In order to combat the negative effects poverty has on child development, Kids First Project’s mission is to promote HOPE - Health, Opportunity, Play, Education.
There is a lack of funding going towards disadvantaged children which is why we are providing the resources necessary for children experiencing homelessness to reach their full potential, freeing up time for parents to get training on job skills and ultimately breaking the generational cycle of poverty.
The Kids First Project model is unique in the way that we are a traveling organization. By bringing our programs to already existing organizations and shelters, we are maximizing the benefits of participating organizations while also serving more children compared to sticking to one location. Furthermore, by giving youth programs a platform, we are empowering youth through engaging them in service-learning by allowing them to share their passions with the less fortunate. We currently have a mentoring program created by a Portland State University student as well as Poeteen, a poetry course created by an IB art student in high school, implemented within our program.
To date, Kids First Project volunteers have served a total of 90 hours to children experiencing homelessness through our program nights. We have taken children on field trips to the zoo, provided them with back to school supplies and Christmas gifts, hosted holiday activities and parties, and provided our many recreational and educational programs. In the past three years, Hope For Homeless Club, a chapter of Kids First Project, has served over 800 individuals and donated $1000 worth of service through monetary donations, civic and government classes, drives, and providing entire meals. In the future, we hope to expand our impact by reaching out to the global community and helping children living in poverty all around the world through our services.
Because we are a traveling organization, our organization does not require much money to remain sustainable. In fact, as little as $6 dollars will provide a child with a mentor and necessary materials from LEAD and INSPIRE. See our donation page to learn more!
Most of our funding comes from grants provided by our sponsors, including Vital Voices, ANN Inc., Youth Service America, and Three Dot Dash. We have received a total of nearly $4000 from our sponsors, using much of it for program materials, marketing merchandise, and organization maintenance, like our website. Outside of funding, we rely on in-kind and monetary donations from our community as well as fundraising to provide the children we serve with necessities like school supplies and clothing.
Our founder, Alisha, is currently a junior at Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon. When she was fourteen years old, Alisha began volunteering at a local family homeless shelter. The families she met and befriended became her inspiration to establish the Hope For Homeless Club in 2013. With her passion for community service, she also volunteers her time through chairing Portland’s Chain Reaction council for March of Dimes, serving on Mission Citizen’s community outreach committee, and interning at Portland Homeless Family Solutions.
To recognize her passion and dedication to human rights and service, Alisha was nominated by the mayor to be the first youth in history to serve on Portland’s Human Rights Commission. Within the commission, she works with fourteen other activists in discussing and issuing recommendations related to human rights issues in their community to the mayor and city council.
In 2015, Alisha traveled to Washington D.C. as an ANNpower Fellow and NCAM Youth Ambassador, immersing her in a network of likeminded youth and national leaders. Later in the year, she attended the Trust Women Conference in London as an ANNpower Global Delegate for her work with human trafficking and women’s economic empowerment. Through receiving national leadership training, engaging in international human rights experiences, and committing to years of volunteering in her community, Alisha realized that empowering youth experiencing homelessness in all aspects of their lives was the key to breaking the generational cycle of poverty.
Utilizing national grants and the support of her community at large, Alisha founded the nonprofit Kids First Project, which brings educational and recreational programs to youth experiencing homelessness in her community. She serves as a voice for youth living in poverty, bringing awareness to the many issues poverty entails. Her activism includes speaking as a panelist for the United Nations Human Rights Day event and other community events, as well as meeting with nonprofits, government and school officials, and human rights activists. She has been recognized for her work through PHFS’ Dr. Arnold Rustin Award, City Club of Portland’s Civic Award, and multiple media outlets.
In her free time, Alisha enjoys channeling her desire for adventure and knowledge through traveling, playing lacrosse, hiking, reading, and cooking up her own concoctions. Alisha aspires to double major in political science and international relations with the ultimate dream of working for the United Nations, pursuing human rights on a global scale.