THE HISTORY OF KIDS MATTER INTERNATIONAL:
In 2005, six men from the North Tarrant County area were asked to help raise funds for a charity called Houses of Hope International. That year, they were invited to visit an orphanage in Zacapa, Guatemala which was supported by Houses of Hope International. In 2006 they visited another Houses of Hope facility in Honduras, focused on housing female children who suffered abuse. The vision was to expand the facility into a live-in school for these children and help break the cycle of abuse.
A local chapter located in Southlake, Texas was formed in 2006 and the founding members formed the Board of Directors. The main focus was to raise funds to support the housing facility in Honduras and the orphanage in Guatemala. The new chapter, called Houses of Hope Texas, also expanded their support of a new orphanage in Andhra Pradesh, India.
In December 2006, Houses of Hope Texas was approached by a local church to help children in need through a clothing program. Kohl's in Valley Ranch was asked to partner with the charity and discount clothes for the event.
The founding members and volunteers shopped with 50 kids and eventually adopted the program as a core initiative. The program now known as "Around-The-Block" was expanded to include clothing, shoes, backpacks and books. On average over 1,500 children are helped each year through the Around-the-Block program.
In 2007, Houses of Hope Texas became Kids Matter International -- a separate, standalone, nonprofit organization to raise funds for the orphanages and to begin development of programs to serve the needs of disadvantaged children in the local community. The Board of Directors was formed and 'Whether Around the World, or Around-the-Block. Kids Matter" became the tagline.
The first annual fundraising event was held in 2007. "Fruit of the Vine" Charity Ball featured premium wines and other items that were auctioned to raise funds. In 2015, the event was renamed Kids Matter Charity Ball and continues to be the main fundraising event held by Kids Matter. The community support and sponsorships by various corporations and individuals raises several hundred thousand dollars to support the programs.
In 2012, the Buckner Foundation took over the operation and funding of the orphanages in Honduras and Guatemala due to growing costs to operate the facilities. Kids Matter continued to fund the orphanage in Andhra Pradesh, India until 2018. It was the only international program supported by Kids Matter until January 2018, when the board voted to discontinue support and search for another international charity that could provide annual financial statements detailing how the funds were distributed.
The Around-the-Block program continued to grow over the years. Funding to support the growth came from revenue generated through the annual Kids Matter Charity Ball and was expanded to two locations, Southlake and Arlington. Each child was given a $100 shopping voucher, and with the help of volunteers, selected new clothes and shoes. For a majority of these children this was the first time they were able to shop for new clothes versus hand-me-downs. The shopping event was held during the month of November, just in time to have warm clothes for the winter months.
In 2016, the McCarty Family Trust granted Kids Matter $75,000 which enabled Kids Matter to serve 500 additional children. In 2017, the McCarty Family Trust requested that an event be held in Austin, where the Director of the Trust resided. The program expanded to serve 1,500 in Southlake, Arlington and Austin, respectively. In 2018, the McCarty Family Trust granted a request for $100,000 to continue Around-the-Block in Austin and to purchase books to support the Ramp Up Reading program. In 2019, 1,800 children received new clothing, shoes, backpacks and books, A request for an additional $100,000 has been submitted to the McCarty Family Trust to continue funding the Austin event for the third year and to purchase books to support the Ramp Up Reading Literacy Program.
In June 2016, Kids Matter celebrated 10 years of growth and success. The 10th Diamond Anniversary Kids Matter Charity Ball celebrated a decade of caring for children in need in November 2017. The partnership with Kohl's continued to flourish and through the visionary leadership of Tim McLarty, Senior Vice President, Kids Matter became the sole benefactor of the employee volunteer program focused on literacy among school age children. For every 5 employees who volunteered three consecutive hours, $500 was awarded to Kids Matter. This resulted in an annual donation of over $100,000. Funds from the Family Trust enables Kids Matter to hold an annual Around-the-Block program in Austin, TX every November.
In 2017, Kids Matter launched the Homework Buddy Program in partnership with VAST (Valuable After School Time). On average 35 elementary age children participate in the after-school program which is held at the Grapevine Community Outreach Center during the school year. Volunteers help kids with homework. reading, and math from Monday - Thursday, 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm. Note: Grapevine children comprise the highest number of participants in the Around-the-Block program.
In calendar year 2017, Kids Matter International was awarded a Platinum level rating from GuideStar, a nonprofit organization which tracks the transparency and financial accountability of over 50,000 charities in the United States. On average, only 5,000 charities per year qualify at Platinum level which is the highest rating awarded by GuideStar. Annually. a non-profit must re-submit detailed data, financial information, and accountability matrix in order to maintain its Platinum status. Kids Matter received a Platinum rating again in 2018, 2019, and 2020.
In FY 2018, the Board of Directors voted to support two international charities for one year; and to continue support of Victory Christian Center in Tanzania as a pass-through donation from 3rd party donors to that charity.
Over 2,000 children were clothed at the annual Around-the-Block program and 20,000 books were distributed to promote literacy among school-age children. The Board of Directors approved a $5,000 grant to Girl Meets World, 501c3 charity that works with middle schools to teach girls life skills that instill confidence. A $5,000 grant was awarded to Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a non-profit organization that enlists volunteers to build bunk beds for families in need. The beds are delivered and set up in the home.
Thanks to the generous in-kind donation by Twisted X shoe company located in Decatur, Texas 2,000 children in need received a pair of brand new, high quality shoes. Twisted X is recognized nationally for producing shoes and boots from a variety of sustainable products. In addition, for the fifth year in a row, a generous grant from the McCarty Family Trust in Austin enabled Kids Matter to clothe children in need at KOHL'S Sunset Valley store in November.
Like many charities, Kids Matter has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The families we serve are single moms taking care of 2-4 children with a household income below $25,000 a year. Due to COVID-19, many have been laid off or have been forced to quit their jobs to care for children who are being schooled virtually. Planned fundraising events were canceled. As a result, your support is needed even more now.
Where We Are Now
For every dollar raised, 87 cents is spent to support the programs and services offered by Kids Matter International.