Photo: Jennifer Hernandez
Colgate Smile Fund is committed to supporting healthy and bright futures for children, their families, and communities by investing in nonprofit organizations. Photo: Jennifer Hernandez

Colgate Smile Fund donates $200,000 to City Year to support under-resourced schools and students

Colgate Smile Fund will donate $200,000 to City Year, an organization that focuses on strengthening students from systematically under-resourced schools.


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Today’s youth are expected to choose the difficult assignment to prevail after experiencing school closures during pandemics, safety insecurities, and constant surges of systematic issues that permeate fear and affect their outlook on life. 

These issues were only exacerbated by the widening educational disparities due to lack of support and resources to remote learning that affected low-income families and students with disabilities. 

Underrepresented communities endured a painful blunt during these trying times. Many students developed anxiety, stress, isolation, suicidal ideation — slowly crippling students’ mental health. 

A recent study by Colgate found that 7 in 10 parents of school-aged children (69%) reported that it is more difficult for their kids to be positive about the world now, when compared to two years ago. This information propelled Colgate to launch Colgate Smile Fund: an initiative focused on supporting healthy and bright futures for children, their families, and communities by investing in nonprofit organizations, they help equip young people with the skills needed to thrive in and out of school — as Sarah Sher, Associate Director at Colgate, explains. 

The determinants related to students’ learning performance prior to Covid and after have changed drastically. The socio-emotional development of students’ remains a serious issue and one that Colgate is willing to help address.

“Kids still have the opportunity to shape their long-term outlook and ability to overcome challenges,” Sarah mentions. “And with the right social-emotional resources and training, we can get today’s kids back on track to become more resilient and optimistic people.”

The study further revealed that 3 in 4 parents (75%) said they are concerned about their children’s ability to bounce back from difficulties — nearly half  expressed being extremely concerned. However, what’s more alarming is that 77% of parents are affected by their children’s challenges, with 40% feeling anxious or depressed, and 35% feeling less secure as a parent or guardian — 30% losing sleep over it. This only attests that parents are in desperate need of socio-emotional support as much as their children are. 

The first nonprofit that will be awarded is City Year, founded in 1988 as a national service program, the organization  focuses on strengthening students from systematically under-resourced schools to engage in learning and develop the skills and mindsets to thrive, in and outside of the classroom. 

City Year understands the educational inequities that exist — making under-resourced schools across the country where 90% of students are students of color and English Language Learners, the ones who don’t have the same access to resources and opportunities. The organization is committed to the values of Diversity, Belonging, Inclusion, and Equity (DBIE), with more than 2,500 AmeriCorps members from “diverse backgrounds served last school year as full-time student success coaches.” 

According to City Year’s 2020 survey, 16% of nearly 35,000 Hispanic or Latinx City Year AmeriCorps alumni gained professional experience that helped their future careers.

“That’s why City Year recruits young adults to serve as full-time student success coaches in public schools across the U.S,” Tasha Booker, City Year’s senior Vice President of External Engagement explains. “We intentionally partner with systemically under-resourced schools because we want to level the educational playing field. That’s where our City Year AmeriCorps members come in — they’re tutors and mentors who support students in classrooms every day.” 

City Year wants for staff and AmeriCorps members involved in making education accessible “to feel valued as individuals and for the important collective contributions they make to our work,” Tasha states.

It is by fostering a welcoming environment that promotes quality learning — something City Year hopes its staff and members can utilize to engage with students and the community. The support students receive from AmeriCorps members’ is indispensable, especially for students who are furthest behind academically who benefit from supportive and tenacious mentors who want them to achieve success. 

“Our partnership with City Year will enable a new training module centered around social-emotional learning for City Year AmeriCorps members, whose service last year ultimately impacted 226,000 students across the country,” Sarah Sher, Associate Director at Colgate emphasized. 

Since Colgate believes everyone deserves a ‘future worth smiling’ it will also directly sponsor City Year New York’s Social Emotional Learning Program — serving over 2,000 students from five partner schools in the Bronx, including one-on-one and small group support from City Year Americorps members for up to 631 students. 

Colgate will donate $200,000 to City Year over the course of 2022-2023 fiscal year. 

“This investment will help in the development of social-emotional training resources for City Year AmeriCorps members who serve as full-time student success coaches in public schools across the country,” Tasha Booker, City Year’s senior Vice President of External Engagement explained. “The funds include helping City Year create a six-week training curriculum that will enable AmeriCorps members to hone their own social-emotional skills, benefiting them not only throughout their service during the 2022-2023 school year, but for years to come.”

In focusing on the important building blocks students’ need to succeed, City Year and Colgate are empowering today’s youth, communities, and families to strive and thrive as a unit.

“We all know how important it is to feel a sense of connection, and to have someone who listens to us and offers support,” Tasha Booker, City Year’s senior Vice President of External Engagement emphasizes. “AmeriCorps members are mentors, tutors and trusted allies that students can turn to for help with their classwork and homework, or just to talk. And research backs up the value of AmeriCorps members — schools that partner with City Year are up to two to three times more likely to improve on English and math assessments.”

The efforts to empower students and the community does not end with City Year, as Colgate is committed to serving the Hispanic community by relaunching “Haz La U,” an annual educational grant program in partnership with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. It was designed for Hispanic high school seniors eligible to win 1 out 31 education grants, and  has awarded more than $900,000 to support higher education for Hispanics as of 2022. 

“Our goal with the Colgate Smile Fund and our partnership with City Year is to get today’s kids back on track to becoming more resilient and optimistic people. With social-emotional support, all students can better manage their emotions, set goals for themselves, relate to others, make responsible decisions, and remain resilient in the face of challenges,” Sarah Sher, Associate Director at Colgate reiterated. “When we are able to adopt positive thinking patterns and develop resilience when navigating life’s challenges, we become more optimistic about our future.”



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