PLATINUM2023

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 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 (Sokatch, 2017). Concurrently, school principals in K-8 schools say their top concern is the rising numbers of students with emotional problems and mental health needs (Balow, 2018). A September 2020 study by Mental Health America found half of students surveyed between the ages 11 to 17 reported thinking frequently of suicide. Kickstart Kids uses martial arts as a vehicle to teach character and social emotional learning to give students the tools to grow personally, avoid self-destructive behaviors, resist negative peer pressure, improve mental health, and make responsible decisions.

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, character development program offered during the school day that teaches character through karate to middle and high school students. The program is offered five days per week during the school day, plus free after-school and summer sessions, and the opportunity to participate in Demonstration Teams and weekend tournaments, which keep students engaged with a healthy peer group and under the positive influence of a strong role model and mentor in their instructor. Kickstart Kids reaches adolescents at a critical time in their lives, and through the discipline of the martial arts, instills character, resilience, life skills, self-esteem and social-emotional well-being, improving the likelihood of high school graduation and success in adulthood.

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 that students will develop and practice values-related behavior and resilience, create stronger school and family connections, achieve higher levels of academic and social success, and become productive members of our community.

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 on the front lines and able to make a profound difference in the lives of students, by engaging them in activities that build character and positively affect health, functioning and quality of life.

• Fosters personal growth and achievement: Students are encouraged to develop and practice values-based behaviors, resilience, leadership skills, conflict resolution, emotional awareness, as well as healthy living. Programs that emphasize respect, discipline and structure can have long-term positive benefits, especially for students whose upbringing lacks this guidance and support.

• Instills social emotional well-being: Through the intrinsic nature of the martial arts to train mind, body and spirit, the KSK curriculum functions as a highly-effective means of delivering social emotional learning, which is one of the most proactive initiatives for mental health illness prevention.

• Improves physical health and academic performance: According to Harvard Medical School Professor John J. Ratey, MD, exercise provides substantial benefits for learning. It improves attention, increases motivation, heightens the senses, and decreases stress. Kickstart Kids’ layered methodology, which combines character building values curriculum with martial arts training, is designed to encourage cross-lateral movement, which is particularly impactful on a student’s academic growth.

• Provides out-of-school activities: In addition to the in-school program, Kickstart Kids offers free after-school and summer sessions, and the opportunity to participate in Demonstration Teams and weekend tournaments, which keep students engaged with a healthy peer group and under the positive influence of their instructor.

• Develops community and connections: Kickstart Kids gives youth a chance to be a part of a team with other like-minded, goal-oriented students, and a place to belong, which is critical to motivation.

• Prevents dropouts: Kickstart Kids reaches students at critical ages when behaviors that determine their propensity to graduate will emerge. Declining student motivation leads to higher numbers of high school dropouts, and research indicates that participation in arts education and sports is positively correlated with overall better academic performance. Education must place value on what matters to the child to inspire them (Robinson and Lou, 2016). Koga (2012) called the high rates of student dropouts a public crisis. Considering “68% of the nation’s prison population are high school dropouts,” the cost to taxpayers is high (Koga, 2012).

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 as one of the few prevention programs offered as part of the daily curriculum in the public school system in Texas. The daily experience, along with the after-school and summer school opportunity, led by the same instructor, provides constant stability and mentoring consistency for students. Students generally enroll in Kickstart Kids in 6th grade. 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 reaches students at critical ages when behaviors that determine their propensity to graduate will emerge. Most students choose to remain in the program for all three middle school years and often longer through our high school opportunities. KSK instructors, unlike virtually all other teachers, are able to maintain their relationship for three plus years. This level of consistency and reliability fosters a strong relationship based on trust and responsibility. KSK instructors serve as role models for character-driven behavior and leadership; build authentic, caring relationships with students; and collaborate with parents and teachers to ensure student success. Thirty-two of our instructors and staff are former KSK students. Their passion is tremendous as they are products of the program and know first-hand how Kickstart Kids changes lives. Through the intrinsic nature of the martial arts to train mind, body and spirit, the Kickstart Kids curriculum functions as a highly-effective means of delivering social emotional learning, which is one of the most proactive initiatives for mental health illness prevention. Research indicates that this kind of learning can help reduce anxiety, suicide, substance abuse, depression and impulsive behavior in kids, while increasing test scores, attendance, and prosocial behavior, like kindness, personal awareness, and empathy. Comprehensive programs that are consistently implemented and sustained are critical to youth mental and emotional health because they help youth develop positive skills and coping mechanisms. Through Kickstart Kids’ layered methodology, combining our values curriculum with martial arts training, the central nervous system is stimulated to best develop cognitive and intellectual abilities, providing substantial benefits for academic learning.

Martial arts world champion, actor, and philanthropist Chuck Norris founded Kickstart Kids in 1990, and the first programs were delivered in 1992. Since its inception, more than 110,000 students have benefitted from this one-of-a-kind, life-changing program.

Kickstart Kids collects annual student data in every school to track and monitor the success of each program, and administers beginning and end of year surveys to measure the impact of KSK on a student's character development, resiliency, leadership, family and peer relationships, and goal setting. Surveys measure the impact of the KSK program on life skills and behaviors during the course of one year, as well as how responses change year to year. Results are compared to previous studies to build a comprehensive story of program impact. Independent studies have consistently proven the success of the program to teach important life skills.

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.

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 using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

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

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We share the feedback we received with the people we serve, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time

Financials

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

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Kickstart Kids

Board of directors
as of 06/20/2023
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

Gena Norris

CForce Bottling Co.

Brenda Love Jones

Love Advertising

Kevin Mitchell

Mitchell Interests

Keith Mosing

Mosing Group

Laura True King

Aquaocean Transport, Inc

John Gibson

Flotek Industries

Charles Dupre

Texas Association of School Administrators

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? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 6/19/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Gender identity
Female

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 06/20/2023

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

Data
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • 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.