Meet our Partners: Skjaja Fund
From violin to volleyball, to tap dance and taekwondo, participating in extracurricular activities is critical for children to form healthy behaviors and to achieve long-term academic success. Unfortunately, not all students and their families can afford after-school programs. The SKJAJA Fund helps students who lack the financial resources to participate in extracurricular activities. CommunityWorx and the SKJAJA Fund share the same core value of empowering and enriching the lives of the youth within the local community.
Students who receive grants from SKJAJA can put the funds toward an extracurricular activity of their choice. From music lessons, recreational sports, and camps to field trips and tutoring, the recipient can pursue whatever they’re most passionate about.
“We don’t dictate what the kids want to do. The kids come to us saying what they want to do,” said Charlotte White, one of the founders of the SKJAJA Fund. “Some kids know exactly what they are passionate about, and some kids want to try lots of different things. Sometimes figuring out that you don’t like something is just as important as finding something you are passionate about.”
Paying It Forward
White said that she benefited tremendously from the opportunities she had to take art and dance classes as a child. When her sister-in-law Kim gave her a gift with the intention for her to pass it on to somebody else, White wanted to help provide other children access the same advantages that she had. Together, a group of her family members created the SKJAJA Fund. The pay-it-forward model eventually became a key tenant of the program’s success.
Grant recipients are required to complete community service in order to receive funding for their afterschool activities. Expectations correspond to a participant’s age: an elementary-aged student might make a card for a person in the hospital, while an older student might help elementary students with homework. The first and second graders get excited about volunteering alongside high school students during SKJAJA Saturdays, the organization’s monthly service event.
“It’s not a handout, they worked for it,” said White. “We have kids that sign up for SKJAJA Saturday who needs one to fulfill their requirements, but they ask to come back next month. Engaging kids at the young age of 5 and 6 instill something in them. It’s a neat thing.”
SKJAJA and CommunityWorx
The SKJAJA Fund, alongside Musical Empowerment, were some of the first tenants to join YouthWorx on Main, the nonprofit coworking accelerator run by CommunityWorx. White believes that having an established office gives them functional capabilities and legitimacy as a nonprofit organization. Being able to collaborate in person with other nonprofits on a regular basis has also been a valuable resource to the SKJAJA fund. Furthermore, having a presence in the YouthWorx on Main has also given them a greater sense of visibility within the community.