Since the early 90’s, Tempe-based Future for KIDS has provided free out-of-school, mentor-driven programs and camps that focus on academics, athletics and ethics activities for youth who face adversity. Here, Executive Director Madonna Bistany discusses Future for KIDS’ plan to launch a Tucson chapter, the importance of mentors in a kid’s life and the nonprofit’s upcoming fundraising events.
What prompted the start of Future for KIDS? In 1991, Rod Smith, a former NFL player, had a vision to provide at-risk kids the opportunity to attend camps that inspired them to stay on track for a bright future.
What is the greatest reward in being involved with Future for KIDS? The greatest reward being involved with Future for KIDS is working with dedicated community members all with a common vision to support kids and their families through life’s challenges.
What role does a mentor play within Future for KIDS? Why are they so important? Future for KIDS invests in recruiting and training volunteer mentors who commit to two hours a week for 26 weeks. These dedicated mentors work directly with our community’s most vulnerable youth in a structured program run by a Program Leader. Consistent mentors working with kids in a 1:4 ratio provides the ultimate opportunity to maximize the mentor/youth bond, providing strong and consistent support. Mentors are very important for kids struggling with stress and trauma. School and difficult family situations are difficult for kids to navigate and having consistent support is essential.
Has the mission of Future for KIDS evolved since it was founded? Future for KIDS mission has been strategically evolving since 1991. From running football camps in the early years, our organization knew it was important to create a strong and impactful program that served all children with results that could be measured. In 2004, Discover Your Future launched, and we have worked to ensure that each year we are improving impact for the kids we serve. Specific strategies have been developed for mentor recruitment, and training is a priority in our new Mentor Training Facility donated by the Phoenix Suns who also believe that well-trained mentors are important for kids. In keeping with tradition, we still run three large-scale sports and fitness camps in partnership with ASU and GCU.
What are your goals for 2021? Future for KIDS will be starting a Tucson chapter. Our organization will be running 12 program locations–with 50 youth at each location–up from four during COVID. We will be deepening our reach with parents through classes held during program hours. Get back to running three youth sports and fitness camps after a two-year hiatus due to COVID.
How can readers help?
-Future for KIDS needs volunteer mentors who can dedicate two hours each week to supporting kids.
-Make a tax credit donation to Future for KIDS or a general donation.
-Serve on our Board or Associate Board.
-Give us a call to get involved.