Merry Go Round Children's Foundation

The Merry Go Round Children’s Foundation’s (MGR) mission is to help deserving yet financially disadvantaged youth access the technology and tools they need to achieve their academic & social potential. The Foundation supports educators and police officers to deliver programming that establishes healthy relationships and encourages kids to positively impact their community.

Our Impact Why We Exist

Since inception, Merry Go Round Children's Foundation has:

  • Worked with 76 GTA schools
  • Supplied more than 3,500 new computers to kids
  • Provided internet access to 202 students

The Kids, Cops and Computers program has grown by 400% in the past six years:

  • In 2015, 600 new students from 36 GTA schools joined in the program
  • In total, 2,500 students are participating in 2015-2016
  • The majority of schools are located in neighborhood improvement areas
  • More than 80 police officers, educators and others support the KCC program delivery in schools

Participation in Kids, Cops and Computers increases students’ engagement and involvement in their community.  Annual surveys show:

  • 60% of KCC students currently volunteer in their community or at school
  • 78% of KCC graduating youth volunteered above the 40 hours required for graduation
  • 89% of graduating students felt that the KCC program enriched their life
  • 100% of police officers report an increase in community citizenship in KCC students

“Citizenship and volunteering at this age [Grade 7] is important to build empathy and a sense of thinking about others and not just themselves. “ Julie I. Teacher, Beverley Heights

Students participating in Kids, Cops & Computers program are also encouraged to “give back” to their community and take part in the Kids Give Back program, holding events and raising funds to support the classes following them. The initiative allows students to engage and involve their entire school community in supporting their peers.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

  • MGR was founded in 1997 as a response to the growing digital divide which was limiting the ability of deserving low-income youth to keep up with their peers in school.
  • MGR created and launched the Kids Cops & Computers program which was phased in through a number of pilot initiatives to provide computers and internet service (if needed) to financially disadvantaged youth.
  • In the first year, 21 computers were distributed and through the course of its development, MGR solidified and expanded partnerships and a network of supporters.
  • In 2001, the first full year of the Kids, Cops and Computers program rolled out with the distribution of 100 computers to youth in high-risk neighborhoods across Toronto.

Accolades and Accomplishments

  • The Foundation has continued to grow and increase impact year-over-year:
  • Donor support has increased 88% in past 5 years
  • Program expansion continued, doubling in past five years
  • A Certificate of Appreciation was presented to Merry Go Round Children’s Foundation for outstanding participation as a partner of the Toronto District School Board. The award was conferred for the Foundation’s contribution to the success and well-being of TDSB students through supportive, encouraging and inclusive educational experiences (May 25, 2009).

Our Programs How We Do It

The Kids, Cops & Computers program connects financially disadvantaged youth with technology and police mentorship. The goal is to level the playing field for at-risk youth with the provision of laptop computers and comprehensive programming including mentorship, training and guidance support. MGR's innovative Kids, Cops & Computers (KCC) Program bridges Toronto's digital divide by promoting access, equity and opportunity.

A new laptop computer is provided to students entering the program. The laptop is earned based on participation. It is meant to assist students in completing research and school assignments, nurture creativity and support students to be included in social interaction among their peers through the use of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

With the support of program partners, Toronto Police Services and both the Toronto and Toronto Catholic Boards of Education, the program reinforces staying safe on the Internet, preventing cyber-bullying, and practicing good etiquette. The KCC program encourages students to be active contributors to their schools and communities. The intent is to instill hope and confidence ensuring youth can reach their potential.

In 2015, Merry Go Round Children’s Foundation formed a partnership with the RMCP Foundation to pilot the Kids, Cops & Computers program in Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick. The longer term vision is to expand the program to communities across Canada.

Program Overview

Students make a six-year commitment which starts with enrollment in Grade 7. They are encouraged to remain active until high school graduation. Here is a brief overview:

  1. School selection – Selected annually in collaboration with the Safe Schools Superintendents, schools are located in Toronto's NIA’s and include those identified by the "learning opportunity index".
  2. Student Selection - Teachers and Principals nominate grade seven youth based on financial need, demonstrated community citizenship, a passion for learning and a willingness to participate and the need for access to technology.
  3. Program Launch – Students and their parents/guardians attend a “Launch” event which includes a review of the program, expectations and the distribution of laptop computers and internet connections, if required.
  4. Lead & Learn Sessions - Students attend monthly lunchtime Lead & Learn sessions with their Community School Liaison Officer (CSLO) and school educator. The sessions allow students to practice and increase their technology skills and provide invaluable information about safe on-line practices, personal leadership and values.
  5. Assignments - Each student is required to submit an creative assignment completed using their laptop. Topics are based on the subjects covered in Lead & Learn sessions.
  6. Inspiration - On completing year one Junior students attend Inspiration, a full day event filled with fun activities where they meet all of their KCC peers in schools across the city.  Students are recognized for their achievements, officially earn ownership of their laptops and graduate to Senior status.

Program Impact

Annual surveys of all program participants indicate the following:

  • 91% of students say their grades have improved
  • 95% of educators who have knowledge of student grades stated that grades improved
  • 77% of students spend more time doing homework than they did prior to participation
  • 78% of graduating students say the Program helped them to graduate
  • 89% of graduating students felt that the KCC program enriched their life
  • 100% of police officers report an increase in community citizenship in KCC students

Participant Vignette

"I really loved my time with Merry Go Round. It helped to bolster my confidence, helped me make new friends (whom I still am friends with today!), learn many new skills, and has been a great program overall. It helped with my transition from elementary to middle school, and I was able to connect with older students, teachers, and even police officers. Merry Go Round was the first program where I got a taste of all the amazing experiences out in the world to be had, such as meeting new people, and going beyond my comfort zone. Best of all, Merry Go Round provided me with a computer and internet access, allowing me and my family the opportunity to be equal in terms of technology with my  peers. I feel that has contributed greatly to my success in school and homework completion. Having a computer and internet at home provided a sense of security and valuable knowledge. Merry Go Round was the first program that allowed me to become a leader, through speaking at a conference, and eventually I was presented with an award for my commitment to the program. I will always cherish my time with the Merry Go Round Kids Cops and Computers Program, as it was an invaluable experience." - Isha R - Grade 12 Student

What You Can Do

Kids, Cops & Computers

Activities a donation will support

It costs a little over $1,100 to fund a student's participation in Kids, Cops & Computers program. This covers the hardware costs, program support, computer training, internet safety seminars as well as staff administrative time to manage the Program.

Donation impact

Your donation gives students a chance to succeed. Here is what Kids, Cops & Computers graduate Tina Davoudbeiglou had to say.

"I was enrolled in the Kids, Cops & Computers program seven years ago and it changed my life. I have been extremely fortunate to have been part of this program as it has opened many new opportunities for me and tremendously impacted my life. It gave me the confidence to achieve good grades and pursue my education. I am currently enrolled in nursing at Ryerson University and plan to make my career one of helping others."  

Contact

Pati Greenwood, MBA, CFRE
President & CEO
647.559.2750
Charitable Number: 891036899RR0001

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