Mikaylas Voice

Inspiring kids of all abilities to share the message of inclusion.

NAZARETH, PA   |  www.mikaylasvoice.org

Mission

Challenging kids to create a kinder world, where everyone has a friend.

Ruling year info

2010

Executive Director

Rita Cheskiewicz

Main address

PO BOX 232

NAZARETH, PA 18064 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

01-0958973

NTEE code info

Public, Society Benefit - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (W99)

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Everyone needs to be included. Inclusion and diversity are often and widely discussed today, with almost every organization and company developing a policy to support them. Yet, as we are seeing greater progress for all races and genders, people with disabilities are not enjoying the same opportunities. While other groups are able to campaign for equal rights, many people with disabilities struggle to have a voice. Their unique voice needs to be heard in order to change the prevailing prejudices about people with disabilities.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Wheels of Friendship

In this unique program developed and coordinated by Mikayla’s Voice, children paint not with brushes, but the wheels of a wheelchair and the paws and tail of a service dog. Their paintings are a beautiful reminder that it’s always possible to find a way to include everyone.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Mikayla’s Voice Tri for Inclusion is much more than a race. It is a priceless opportunity for all kids and young adults, and an important message for our entire community.

Every year, on the last Saturday in June no one in the Lehigh Valley is left on the sidelines. Kids of all abilities compete side-by-side and together in something they had likely not dreamed possible or ever planned to do and show our entire community that there is always a way to include everyone in everything.

Children and young adults with disabilities are welcome and encouraged to compete in the swim, bike, and run ~ or just one event (with assistance if necessary) as the captain of a relay team. Other kids may or register as assistants or relay team members for these inclusive teams or “try a tri!” (compete all three events)

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Mikayla’s Voice is proud to have published three books written and illustrated by children for other kids about having a friend with a disability. Kids are sometime the best teachers because they know what will be most meaningful to other children. Simply explained by these young authors, “All kids are different… so kids with disabilities are really no different than us.”

While Brady is challenged by autism, Mikayla was born with a brain injury and Jeffrey has Down syndrome, these books are about much more than their main characters or their disabilities. They are about friendship. And kindness.

Invaluable messages for kids of all ages and abilities. Valuable books for every home and classroom. All proceeds benefit Mikayla’s Voice.

Originally designed for elementary schools and in response to requests for both older and younger audiences, Mikayla’s Voice Inclusion Assemblies have evolved into presentations equally successful for children (and adults!) of all ages.

Mikayla and her mom, Kimberly Resh, have given presentations at elementary, middle, and high schools as well as preschools, colleges and places of employment. After sharing their own personal story, they facilitate valuable discussion about the meaning and importance of inclusion for all.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work

Awards

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of works published from new writers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

Children's Books and Assemblies on Inclusion

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Our first three books were written and illustrated by kids for kids about having a friend with a disability. The next book, due out in 2022, is about the ladybug with a yellow spot in our logo.

Number of books distributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

Children's Books and Assemblies on Inclusion

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

When published each book was donated to every public elementary school in the state where it was written (PA or NJ). Smaller donations are now also made to build diverse home libraries.

Total number of audience members

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

Children's Books and Assemblies on Inclusion

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

These numbers do not yet include 2021-2022 school year.

Number of participants attending course/session/workshop

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, Young adults

Related Program

Wheels of Friendship

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

These are only school-based project numbers. We have worked with hundreds more at community events.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

We seek to inspire and empower children to be the voice of inclusion for everyone and show our world a better way. Our organization is unique, and we are proud of our differences. Mikayla’s Voice is the only local non-profit organization in our area, and one of a just a handful in Pennsylvania, focused on inclusion for people with disabilities. Other state and national groups are primarily centered on inclusion in education and/or employment, while we focus on inclusion in all aspects of life. But what really sets us apart is our commitment to empower children and young adults to lead our efforts toward a culture of greater inclusion.

Mikayla was brain injured at birth resulting in profound physical and intellectual disabilities, including her inability to speak. Despite the severity of Mikayla’s disabilities, her family always strived to give her as normal a life as possible and requested that Mikayla be included in regular education classes at the same school her younger sister would later attend. Her attendance was the most important factor in her ability, and the ability of her family, to move forward, and ultimately benefitted everyone. She matriculated through the Nazareth Area School District, remaining fully included at the intermediate, middle and high schools. She graduated with her class in 2014, but not before having silently taught her friends some most valuable life lessons. According to former Superintendent, Victor Lesky, “The Nazareth Area School District was so lucky to share Mikayla’s life during her journey through school. She provided so much love and inspiration, much more than we could ever return to her.”

Children have always been the most accepting of Mikayla’s disabilities and this generation has an important message to share. For too many years, people with disabilities have been excluded from social, educational and employment opportunities. Most adults remember when all children with disabilities were placed in separate classrooms or schools. Through increased inclusive practices in our schools and communities, our children have been blessed with greater appreciation for and friendships with children with disabilities. Mikayla’s Voice was founded on the belief that children are in the best position to teach our community about the importance of inclusion. Our children are our future and we are proud to let them lead by example, teaching others to celebrate diversity, embrace individuals of all abilities., and show kindness to all. This builds their self-confidence, empowers them to stand up for what they believe and encourages their growth into adults who to continue to advocate for inclusion.

Children are our future, Mikayla’s Voice was founded to let them lead by example today: teaching others to celebrate diversity, embrace individuals of all abilities, and show kindness to all.

They are Mikayla’s Voice.

Mikayla’s Voice has developed and coordinates three inclusive programming initiatives: one each in the arts, education, and sports and recreation. All are well established, have enjoyed significant growth, and are positioned for even greater success. Each allows kids of all abilities to enjoy and demonstrate successful inclusion as they work and play together. Fear can be the biggest barrier to inclusion so we talk openly about differences, providing honest answers to any and all questions the children may have. As they become comfortable together, develop strategies to include everyone, and establish genuine friendships, they teach others to do the same. Our unique and innovative programming gives children the opportunity to educate their communities and create cultural change as they prove inclusion is possible in all aspects of life.

We have published four books written and illustrated by children for other kids about having a friend with a disability. Brady is challenged by autism, Mikayla was born with a brain injury, Jeffrey has Down syndrome, and Dot has a yellow spot, but these books are about much more than their main characters or their disabilities. They are about friendship. And kindness. Invaluable messages for kids of all ages and abilities.

Our Inclusion Assemblies introduce valuable dialogue that can be continued, demonstrating children’s capacity for understanding, acceptance and compassion. Facilitated with the help of a child or young adult with a disability, these assemblies begin by sharing the book Our Friend Mikayla to provide background knowledge about having a disability. After sharing their own stories and photos, the hosts’ field questions about Mikayla’s and their own personal experiences. All questions are welcome and encouraged to ease any remaining apprehension and foster greater inclusion, kindness, and friendship. Each assembly concludes with an invitation for all students to serve as Mikayla’s “Voice.”

Children paint not with brushes, but with the wheels of a wheelchair (or walker) and the paws (and tail) of a service dog in our unique art program. Wheels of Friendship® has expanded to represent and include those with deafness or hearing impairment, by adding sign language with cutout handprints. We have also featured braille and diverse textures made by, appreciated by, and symbolizing people with blindness or visual impairment. Finished paintings are unveiled at school-wide presentations and remain on permanent display in the schools where they were created.

Tri for Inclusion is our inclusive youth triathlon but is much more than a race. It is a priceless opportunity for all kids and young adults, and an important message for our entire community. Kids of all abilities compete side-by-side and together in something they had likely not dreamed possible or ever planned to do and show our entire community that there is always a way to include everyone in everything.

Mikayla's Voice has hired an experienced non-profit Executive Director with a proven track record of developing inclusive programs, scaling them up and increasing revenue and market share.

Mikayla's Voice Founder and Director of Innovation and Fun continues to develop unique programs and services not currently available in the non profit organization space.

Our organization has taken advantage of the pandemic shutdown and created equally engaging virtual inclusion assemblies. This platform has no geographic boundaries and can reach even wider audiences. We have developed a second Wheels of Friendship collaborative art project that can be delivered in school or at home.

Assembly co-presenters are youth with disabilities who share their messages of inclusion. Mikayla's Voice has made the commitment to pay the co-presenters a prevailing wage for their services.

Mikayla's Voice board and Executive staff has completed a DEI policy and has recruited additional board members with diverse backgrounds, bringing an even bigger inclusive focus to our efforts.

We are proud of our programs, their ingenuity, quality, and the integrity with which they are delivered. Our inclusive programming is always unique and innovative ~ never a duplication of services. And, in keeping with the importance and value we place on our message and children, we never sacrifice quality. We publish our children’s books as hard cover library bound editions not only to ensure a durable product for schools, but to underscore the importance of the authors’ message. Likewise, we purchase quality supplies for their artwork, and substantial medals for all triathletes. Quality matters. It sends a message. All kids deserve the very best. And will get nothing less from Mikayla’s Voice. We give every child our attention, honesty, patience, and respect. Always.

Accordingly, Mikayla’s Voice has enjoyed much success including:
• Three completely innovative first-of-their-kind before programs
• Delivery of 206 inclusion assemblies to over 65,000 students.
• Inclusive art projects conducted with 2647 student artists in 55 schools.
• Four books written and illustrated by kids for kids.
• Over 6200 books donated to school and classrooms.
• Over 600 athletes have participated in our truly inclusive sports event.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    University led program outcomes,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board, Our funders,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

Mikaylas Voice
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Mikaylas Voice

Board of directors
as of 04/07/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Rose Allshouse

Retired Elementary Principal

Term: 2022 - 2024

Jen Miller

Director / Easter Seals

Heather Joseph

Treasurer / Retired Pension Administrator

Jared Brown

Director / Sign Language Interpretor, Self Advocate

Maria Fidelibus

Director / QuickChek

Logan Houptley

Secretary / Alvernia University

Wendy Houptley

Director / Pat's Brake Service and Lynn's Garage

Katelyn Wilder

Director / Klunk & Millan Advertising

Nathan Schriver

Director / Entreprenuer

Lauren Resh

Vice Chair / Nursing Student

Alex Blackston

Director / Spark Orthodontics

Timika McAdams

Director / Retired

Ken West

Director / Crayola

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/25/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 02/25/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.