The Felix Organization - Adoptees for Children

Making dreams come true for children in foster care since 2006.

aka The Felix Organization   |   Locust Valley, NY   |  www.thefelixorganization.org

Mission

The Felix Organization provides inspiring opportunities and new experiences to enrich the lives of children who are growing up in the foster care system.

Ruling year info

2006

Co-Founder

Ms. Sheila Jaffe

Co-Founder

Mr. Darryl "DMC" McDaniels

Main address

43 Oyster Bay Rd

Locust Valley, NY 11560 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

20-4413828

NTEE code info

Foster Care (P32)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

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

There are roughly 400,000 children in the US in foster care. Approximately 12,000 live in NYC and 19,000 in LA.

Foster children fare poorly in our society. Most of them have witnessed abuse or were themselves abused or neglected. They ended up in foster care through no fault of their own, yet they are burdened with higher rates of mental and physical illnesses, more learning disabilities, and a disproportionate number of teen pregnancies. As adults they fail to complete high school, they must frequently depend on welfare and social services, and often end up in jail. The statistics are clear- we are not doing enough as a society to help foster children succeed.

Studies have shown that for youth who age out of the foster care system with no permanent family, approximately:
• 20% struggled with homelessness
• 50% did not complete high school
• 40% are unemployed
• 36% are arrested
• 22% are incarcerated
• 50% of girls are pregnant 12-18 months after leaving foster care

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?

Camp Felix

For four weeks each summer, approximately 150 children in the NYC foster care system, ages eight to thirteen, from the City’s most impoverished communities are given the chance to leave behind their difficult circumstances to explore the natural world, gain independence and make new friends at our campus in Putnam Valley, NY, approximately one hour north of NYC. Camp Felix allows these children, so many of whom work with social workers, therapists, special educators and lawyers throughout the year, to simply be children. From swim instruction to art and theater, to climbing, nature exploration and dance, the children we serve are able to overcome fears, try new activities, and form bonds with dedicated staff members and campers who share a similar background. As one camper said, "at Camp Felix I feel like I can do anything”.

Camp Felix operates according to the RESPECT Values Program, a philosophy that guides the activities and culture of our camp. It consists of:
Respect for self and others
Engage in positive decision-making
Support each other at camp
Peaceful conflict resolution
Experience something new
Care for your environment
Tolerance for others despite differences

In 2009, Camp Felix initiated a Counselor-In-Training (CIT) program to accommodate the campers who still wanted to be a part of Camp Felix but were aging out. In this capacity, CITs are trained to become counselors, helping them to build job experience, expand their leadership skills, and learn on-the-job skills that will help them begin their professional careers. To date, nearly 30 campers have become CITs, five campers have become volunteers on their way to becoming paid staff, and two former campers have become Camp Felix employees.

In 2011, Felix replicated its model and Camp Felix West was launched in Los Angeles in partnership with The Harold Robinson Foundation, benefiting the children of United Friends of The Children, a Los Angeles based foster care agency.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth
Children and youth

In 2012, Felix developed Beyond Camp, a mini-grants program that grants funding to NYC youth in foster care for extracurricular activities throughout the year. This program is one of our most encouraging and inspiring as it creates opportunities for self-sufficiency. In 2013, Felix distributed $5,800 via Beyond Camp for acting and singing lessons, textbooks for college, cameras and kickboxing lessons. In 2014, we will distribute $20,000.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth
Children and youth

This volunteer-run program provides experiences for teens living in foster care in NYC, including theater tickets, dining out, film screenings and sporting events. In 2013, Felix sent over 100 children to "Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark" on Broadway.The children were treated to a post-show meet-and-greet with Spider-Man. Modell's Sporting Goods sponsored 50 youth to attend a Mets game with the chance to meet some of the players.In addition, Felix served 50 foster children at the Thanksgiving Feast-i-val. Lastly, Vincent Pastore invited 25 children to see the play "Wild Children".

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth
Children and youth

This is a gift-giving initiative that provides holiday cheer to older youth in foster care from New York City who are often overlooked this time of year. With the support of actress Lorraine Bracco, in 2013, Secret Santa disbursed over $16,000 worth of gift cards to youth from The New York Foundling and Good Shepherd Services, two NY- based agencies.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth
Children and youth

In August 2017, The Felix Organization began a pilot program in partnership with Good Shepherds Services, one of New York City’s largest social services agencies, sending 12 teen girls in foster care to adventure camp in Kent, Connecticut. In August 2018, the program expanded to two week-long sessions, and 25 young women from the New York City foster care system each spent a week in the Berkshire Mountains participating in an assortment of enriching camp activities.

These young women reside in a diagnostic treatment center, a temporary residential facility. As such, these girls are part of an extremely at-risk population, as they are unlikely to be adopted, and most will be aging out of the foster care system in a few short years without the support of a permanent guardian. Most of their counterparts in the general community continue to receive the emotional and financial support of a parent, guardian or family member past the age of 18. These young women will not have this safety net.

Due to the instability of life in foster care, these teens are unlikely to have ever been given an opportunity to go to camp. Camp Felix Teen Girls Getaway provides this unique opportunity, and with it, a chance to focus on social/emotional growth and skill building as well as exercise and self-care.

Camp Felix Teen Girls Getaway is a partnership with Good Shepherds Services, a large New York City-based social services agency, which provides the campers and the social work staff to accompany and supervise them during the camp session. The program also includes a partnership with Club Getaway, the site where the camp takes place. Club Getaway provides the food, lodging, activity staff, and physical infrastructure during the camp week.

The recreational activities at Club Getaway include unique activities like zip-lining, rock climbing, a treetop obstacle course, canoeing, kayaking, and so much more, giving the girls an opportunity to expand their horizons and participate in activities they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. When the girls first arrive, many of them express that they can’t see themselves doing some of the activities. By the end of the week, most are fearless experts, climbing up the hill to zip line again and again!

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Women and girls

In August 2018, we launched a new pilot program for teen boys called Bryan’s Camp Felix, in partnership with the New York Foundling and the Bryan Jacobson Foundation.

19 young men from the New York City Foster Care system spent 5 days at Club Getaway in Kent, CT for a life-changing experience.The boys were accompanied by New York Foundling staff and former Camp Felix Putnam Valley Assistant Director, Travis Welcome, who served as the Bryan’s Camp Felix Director.

In addition to adventure sports like zip-lining and rock climbing, the boys enjoyed special activities with guests visitors, including a discussion with Felix co-founder, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, and workshops with animation teacher, Kyle Warren.

Bryan’s Camp Felix gave the boys the opportunity to leave behind the daily struggles they face at home, and participate in personal-growth activities, make new friends, and take a breath of fresh air in nature.

At the end of the week, each camper filled out a survey about their camp experience and here’s what they had to say:

-100% of campers said they tried a new activity at Camp Felix.
-100% of campers said, "my counselors encouraged me and helped me succeed at Camp Felix."
-94% of campers said that Camp Felix helped them learn to overcome challenges.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Men and boys

Where we work

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 youth who demonstrate leadership skills (e.g., organizing others, taking initiative, team-building)

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Camp Felix

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

On the annual Camp Felix survey that the children fill out at the end of the camp season, our campers report that they are better leaders at Camp Felix and are confident about succeeding in school.

Number of youth who demonstrate that they are aware of their interests and abilities

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

Children and youth

Related Program

Beyond Camp

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our campers report that they learned something, tried new activities, and improved their recreational skills, and developed solid career and educational goals through our Beyond Camp program.

Number of youth who demonstrate that they have developed positive values

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

Children and youth

Related Program

Camp Felix

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

On the annual Camp Felix survey the children fill out at the end of the camp season, our campers report that they get along better with other kids and feel prepared to handle life's challenges.

Number of youth who demonstrate that they have developed skills and attitudes to make physical activity a habit

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

Children and youth

Related Program

Camp Felix

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

On the annual Camp Felix survey the children fill out at the end of the camp season, our campers report that they enjoy exercising, playing sports, and being active more than before going to Camp.

Number of youth who demonstrate that they have developed social skills (e.g., interpersonal communication, conflict resolution)

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

Children and youth

Related Program

Camp Felix

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our campers report that they made a lot of new friends, learned to get along better with others, learned how to walk away from fights, and developed more respect for others at Camp Felix.

Number of youth who demonstrate motivation to learn

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

Children and youth

Related Program

Camp Felix

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our campers report that they tried new activities, learned something new, and feel that they are currently working toward their educational goals.

Number of youth who demonstrate that they have developed positive relationships

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

Adolescents

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

On the survey that the 24-26 children from the Camp Felix teen camps filled out at the end of the camp season, our campers report they formed at least one meaningful relationship at Camp Felix.

Number of youth who demonstrate the ability to overcome challenges.

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

Adolescents

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

On the survey that the 24-26 children from the Camp Felix teen camps filled out at the end of the camp season, our campers report that Camp Felix helped them learn to overcome challenges.

Number of people within the organization's service area accessing food aid

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

Children, Preteens, People of Latin American descent, People of African descent, Multiracial people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

In March 2020, we established the Emergency Relief Fund to provide children and families in our immediate foster care community with funds for urgent necessities due to the COVID-19 crisis.

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.

The Felix Organization aims for all of our youth participants to leave Camp Felix with the following competencies:

1.Improved physical and cognitive skills

2.Improved awareness about healthy living

3.Improved self-esteem and sense of belonging

4.Heightened self-confidence including respect for self

5.Improved social skills including respect for others

6.Improved level of positive decision-making and leadership skills

The Felix Organization uses the following strategies to achieve our goals at Camp Felix, our signature program:

1. Children will participate in physical activities including swimming, team sports, and climbing wall. Children will participate in cognitive and problem-based activities such as project adventure and scavenger hunt.

2. Children will eat three healthy meals and a snack daily and learn about good nutrition from our Food Service staff who implement a weekly nutrition orientation and cooking classes.

3. Children will participate in various group team-building activities.

4. Children will have the opportunity to overcome fears and experience success by participating in various physical and social activities and living independently from their families.

5. Through participation in various group and team building activities, children will have an opportunity to build social skills and respect for others.

6. Through their participation in various group and team-building activities, children will hone and develop positive decision-making and leadership skills.

For more than 25 years, Felix co-founder Darryl “DMC" McDaniels has had an influence on popular culture. The first rap group to grace the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine and the first to appear on MTV, Run DMC changed music and made history. Thirty million record sales later, DMC continues to create, inspire and motivate.

DMC was born in Harlem, put up for adoption and grew up in Hollis, Queens. After discovering, as an adult, this part of his history, DMC began his journey down another life path in search of his birth mother. While his struggle was captured in the 2007 Emmy-winning VH-1 documentary, “DMC: My Adoption Journey", the process gave DMC tremendous insight and purpose, prompting him to become an advocate for adoption and children in foster care.

He was invited to the White House by President Obama to address youth groups on responsibility and has appeared before Congress and State Legislatures in support of this cause. DMC has been the recipient of various awards including Hard Rock's Love All Serve All Award for his numerous philanthropic endeavors. DMC also sits on the board of directors of Children's Rights.

Felix co-founder, Sheila Jaffe was born in Manhattan and grew up in the Bronx. At eleven years of age, she found out she was adopted. Today, she is an Emmy Award-winning casting director whose body of work includes the HBO hit series, The Sopranos, and Entourage. Her feature film resume includes: The Fighter, Rocky Balboa, and Ted. Although casting is her profession, Sheila's true passion is helping children. She started out with a simple idea to sponsor inner-city boys and girls to experience their first Broadway play. As co-founder of The Felix Organization, Sheila is starring in her most rewarding and vital role. As she sees it: “Felix is like my child and watching Felix grow in its reach to help these children has been an indescribable blessing." Sheila currently sits on the board of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation and the Advisory Board of the Savannah Film Festival. In 2013, she was honored at The Children's Rights Gala for her work with children in foster care.

Amanda Simonetta, Felix's Executive Director, began her work with foster children when she was a Grant-Writer for an orphanage in Cusco, Peru. As a former School Counselor with a Masters Degree in Education, Amanda has worked with hundreds of children in need. As Director of Institutional Giving at The New York Foundling, one of New York City's largest social services agencies, she managed a grant portfolio of over $3 million, supporting programs to help disadvantaged youth. Amanda became Camp Felix's on-site Camp Director and Program Administrator for its first five years.

Our seasonal camp staff includes certified social workers and medical professionals who are highly trained to work with this population. Our medical team is certified to administer medications so that no child misses the opportunity to attend Camp Felix.

In the past year, in 2018, Felix accomplished the following:

• Sent over 500 children to camp through our 5 Camp Felix programs on the East and West Coast, including two camps for teen boys and girls: Bryan's Camp Felix and Camp Felix Teen Girls Getaway.
• Distributed $15,000 worth of Beyond Camp mini-grants to allow children in foster care to follow their dreams. We distributed funds for guitar lessons, swimming lessons at the Y, sports leagues, tutoring, laptops for school, and more.
• Sent 30 youth in the foster care system on a trip to Six Flags.
• Served a delicious Thanksgiving meal to 100 children during our annual feast-i-val where children decorated chalkboard t-shirts, sang and danced at Hill Country Barbecue restaurant in NYC.
• Sent 100 youth in the foster care system to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
• Distributed over $33,000 in gift cards to over 600 children during the holiday season for teens in foster care, who often get overlooked this time of year.

The impact of Felix's programs is life-long. To date:

• 74 Camp Felix campers have become Counselors In Training
• 12 campers have become camp volunteer staff
• 10 former campers have moved into the role of Camp Felix employee.

These opportunities help our youth build job experience, enhance their leadership skills, and expand their resumes to prepare them for their professional careers.

We hope that in future summers our Camp Felix administrative positions, such as Camp Director and Assistant Director, among others, will be filled by former Camp Felix campers. We feel strongly that youth who have gone through the program will make the best role models for new youth who understand that these staff members were once in their position. We feel confident that, as our former campers continue to fill Counselor roles, they will move up the ranks to fill these higher positions. This will help those youth to obtain full-time year-round positions and support them in leading healthy and positive lifestyles.

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 demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
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.), Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

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

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We believe that our youth must be the agents of their own change, in order for real growth to be possible. As such, in 2019, we officially launched The Camp Felix Youth Board. This program inspires our youth to become more involved with our mission while building the skills and abilities to create a positive impact in their community. At our first meeting with the youth board members, they requested opportunities to volunteer and workshops for personal development. In the past 6 months, our youth were recruited to volunteer at several events including our annual Thanksgiving Feast-i-val and our first ever Youth Jam event where they helped us set up the venue, welcome our guests, and also distribute goody bags. We have also been mindful of connecting with leaders who can meet our kids.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board,

  • 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

The Felix Organization - Adoptees for Children
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Operations

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

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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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.

The Felix Organization - Adoptees for Children

Board of directors
as of 3/18/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Ms. Sheila Jaffe

Sheila Jaffe Casting

Term: 2006 -


Board co-chair

Mr. Darryl McDaniels

Self-Employed

Term: 2006 -

Conny Baris

Baris Financial Management, Ltd

Doug Herman

Titan Advisors

Michael Lang

Woodstock Ventures and The Michael Lang Organization

Laurie Parise

Youth Represent

Laura Tufariello

Design and Source Productions, Inc.

Larry Ryckman

AfterMaster Audio Labs

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 ? No
  • 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? No
  • 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? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 03/23/2020

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
Decline to state

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American/African
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

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