Kickstart Kids

Character through Karate

Houston, TX   |  www.kickstartkids.org

Mission

We teach character through karate. Kickstart Kids offers high quality martial arts instruction to adolescents navigating the difficult middle school and high school years. At a time when students are developing their identity and faced with significant life choices, the KSK curriculum promotes a sense of community, achievement, healthy lifestyles and the foundation of character – discipline, responsibility, kindness, respect, courage, dedication, honesty, and loyalty.

Ruling year info

1991

Executive Director

Joan Neuhaus

Main address

10222 Westheimer Rd

Houston, TX 77042 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

52-1706526

NTEE code info

Youth Development Programs (O50)

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

Current research on education in America shows a growing need for character development in the classroom. Veteran teachers report students have become significantly more disrespectful, unethical, irresponsible, and show a general lack of interest in learning. Research also shows that character education significantly increases student positivity, honesty, motivation, grades, and graduation rates while lowering discipline problems and suspension rates. Educators look for ways to help students develop character traits that will contribute to life-long success. Kickstart Kids teaches character through karate to empower youth with core values, such as discipline and respect, to achieve their greatest potential. The program is easily accessible to all students at a program school, regardless of any demographic factor, financial hardship, or physical disability, as one of the few prevention programs offered as part of the daily curriculum in the public school system in Texas.

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?

KICKSTART KIDS

Kickstart Kids is a Texas Education Agency recognized, in-school character development program. Kickstart Kids is an ongoing annual program that offers an easily accessible, affordable and inclusive environment to all students at a partner school.

Our vision is to reach every school, so all students have the opportunity to participate. We strive to empower a generation of youth with the character, resiliency and community to survive and thrive, and we remain inspired by the values and commitment of our community, and unwavering belief and optimism in Mr. Norris’s profound mission to build strong character through the martial arts.

This year, approximately 8,000 students are enrolled in 60 public schools across the state of Texas. Since its inception, over 110,000 students have benefitted from our one-of-a-kind, life-changing program. Kickstart Kids strives to create an environment and a world that is more respectful, empathetic, equitable and inclusive. Living the values that are instilled in our curriculum, are empowered to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
At-risk youth
Economically disadvantaged people
Children
Preteens

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 participants engaged in programs

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

Adolescents

Related Program

KICKSTART KIDS

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Total students participating in the Kickstart Kids program.

Number of program sites

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

Adolescents

Related Program

KICKSTART KIDS

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Total number of schools that have partnered with Kickstart Kids to offer the program.

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 Kickstart Kids program has been intentionally developed to combine character-building values curriculum with martial arts training to accomplish our goals to enhance character development, and positively impact school and family connections, to empower students to achieve their greatest potential.

Kickstart Kids provides a supportive community and builds character and resiliency, which our youth need now more than ever. Students are encouraged to develop and practice values-based behaviors, leadership skills, conflict resolution, mental control and emotional awareness, as well as healthy living, all of which contribute positively to current social issues including the need for character development, strong family and school connections, improved student performance, social-emotional well-being, school safety and healthy lifestyles.

Kickstart Kids is a Texas Education Agency recognized, in-school physical education program that teaches character through karate to middle and high school students. Daily classes include martial arts instruction and lessons from our unique values curriculum. The eight core values of honesty, loyalty, courage, discipline, respect, dedication, kindness and responsibility are deliberately layered within the physical training to equip students to make positive choices under pressure so they can be successful in all aspects of life.

Generally, students enroll in Kickstart Kids in sixth grade, and remain in the program for all three years of middle school and often beyond. It is at this impressionable age that our program is able to build a solid foundation for the students we serve before they enter high school. Kickstart Kids is an ongoing annual program. The program is delivered five days per week during the school year through the class rotation schedule, plus optional free after school and summer sessions, which keep students engaged with a healthy peer group and under the positive influence of a strong role model and mentor in their instructor. Classroom requirements include dressing for class daily in the martial arts uniform, keeping a detailed notebook of values and physical related work, passing values and martial arts curriculum-based written and physical tests, participating in group mat chats, and reciting positive affirmations. Our unique multi-year, intensity progressive values curriculum is delivered in the form of videos, stories and group discussion. Kickstart Kids utilizes the standard martial arts belt system to reflect a proven level of competence and proficiency in a belt’s techniques, as well as a stripe system to signify comprehension and engagement of our values curriculum in their lives. Attainment of the values stripe indicates a student has passed values-based written and physical tests as well as received complimentary input from teacher and parent surveys.

In addition to learning martial arts skills, Kickstart Kids classes deliberately and thoughtfully infuse character-building lessons into the daily curriculum to empower students to strive for higher levels of academic and social success and become productive members of our communities. Kickstart Kids gives youth the tools and support to build strong character, avoid self-destructive behaviors, resist negative peer pressure and make responsible decisions leading to a life of self-sufficiency and fulfillment.

Kickstart Kids uses martial arts as a vehicle to teach character. The program is easily accessible to all students, regardless of any demographic factor, financial hardship, or physical disability, as one of the few prevention programs offered as part of the daily curriculum in the public school system in Texas. The daily experience of the Kickstart Kids program, along with the after-school and summer school opportunity, led by the same instructor, provides stability and mentoring consistency for students. Kickstart Kids reaches students at critical ages when behaviors that determine their propensity to graduate will emerge. Student success is due to directly addressing these behaviors and barriers at these young and impressionable ages that otherwise can have detrimental impacts on the probability of school completion. Most students choose to remain in the program for all three middle school years and often longer through our high school opportunities, and Kickstart Kids instructors, unlike virtually all other teachers, are able to maintain their relationship for three plus years. This fosters a strong relationship based on trust and responsibility. Thirty-two of our instructors and staff are former Kickstart Kids students. Their passion is tremendous as they are products of the program and know first-hand how Kickstart Kids changes lives. Finally, by combining our values curriculum with the martial arts training, the central nervous system is stimulated to best develop cognitive and intellectual abilities, providing substantial benefits for learning.

Martial arts world champion, actor, and philanthropist Chuck Norris founded Kickstart Kids in 1990 with the help of President George H. W. Bush. The program was launched in four schools in 1992. This year, more than 8,000 students are enrolled in 60 schools across the state of Texas. Since its inception, more than 110,000 students have benefited from this one-of-a-kind, life-changing program.

Independent studies, conducted by an outside consultant, provide evidence that the program is fulfilling its mission to teach character through karate. Results consistently show that students who participate in the program perform at higher levels than do students who do not participate. It has also been documented that the program enjoys strong school administrator and parent support, and provides critical services for students as they enter and transition through middle school.

The Kickstart Kids program positively impacts not only students, but schools that host the program, participants’ families, and surrounding communities as the program cultivates and encourages positive behaviors and safer environments. Kickstart Kids has been recognized for its role in helping create safer schools and communities. In 2015, Crime Stoppers of Houston awarded Kickstart Kids a Safe School Award and in 2016, Kickstart Kids received the North Texas Crime Commission Safe School Award.

Within every child is the power to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more. Following in the vision of our founder Chuck Norris, we believe that power can be unlocked through the martial arts. Kickstart Kids will continue to change children’s lives by building strong character through the martial arts as long as there are students who will benefit from our program and adequate funding to support it.

Financials

Kickstart Kids
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Operations

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

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Kickstart Kids

Board of directors
as of 9/24/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mrs. Gena Norris

CForce Bottling Co.


Board co-chair

Mr. Chuck Norris

William Hickl

BDO USA, LLP

Chuck Norris

Lloyd Ford

Gena Norris

CForce Bottling Co.

Brenda Love-Jones

Love Advertising

Kevin Mitchell

Showbiz Cinemas

Keith Mosing

Mosing Group

Laura True

Aquaocean Transport, Inc

John Gibson

Flotek Industries

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? No
  • 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? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No