By OICA CEO Joe Dorman
Over the past week, I had the pleasure of spending time in Baltimore with one of the foundations which supports the mission of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. The Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) is a philanthropic organization focused on improving the well-being of American children. The foundation's goals are to build better futures for disadvantaged children and their families in the United States. They currently work throughout the U.S. to collect data regarding child well-being through sixteen categories within education, health, economic well-being and family and community indicators.
To understand AECF, you must go back more than 100 years ago. Annie E. Casey was a widow raising her four children near Seattle. Her sacrifice and struggles deeply affected her eldest child, Jim Casey. In 1907, the same year our state was formed, Jim started a messenger service to help support his mother and siblings. This service later became United Parcel Service of America, or UPS.
From those successful beginnings, Jim and his siblings established the Annie E. Casey Foundation in 1948 to honor their mother. They started by supporting a camp for disadvantaged kids near their Seattle home. Jim dedicated his life to creating an enduring legacy of service to children and families in America and his legacy continues today.
Before his death in 1983 at the age of 95, he said: “What is needed is a renewed determination to think creatively, to learn from what has succeeded and what has failed, and, perhaps most important, to foster a sense of common commitment among all those concerned with the welfare of children.”
In 1990, the very first KIDS COUNT Data Book was published, showing the overall wellbeing of children across the United States. OICA is proud to be the local partner for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, helping AECF collect and disseminate date in our state, allowing us to see how we fare against national and regional trends regarding the treatment of children. As Jim Casey said, we must "learn from what has succeeded and what has failed," and that requires hard data and serious analysis, which the KIDS COUNT project is providing.
In addition to its data collection and analysis work, AECF helps each state partner maximize their potential. I was honored to spend three days this past week going through trainings on how to make our nonprofit organization more effective. Jim Casey made his fortune by ensuring UPS maintained the highest level of efficiency and quality with their work product, and that legacy has also been passed on to AECF. That same high quality and commitment to results has made them a tremendous force for good in the non-profit world.
I also had the chance to interact with other newly hired leaders from across the nation and learn ways to improve our message delivery, improve staff productivity and increase our fundraising base by working with other foundations and individual donors. Through this training, I fully expect to improve our work product for the children of Oklahoma in our advocacy mission, as well as getting more people involved with developing our annual policy goals. I want to thank AECF for investing time in OICA, in me and in others to help us champion the mission around the nation to ensure that all children in the United States have a bright future.
The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens, to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk.
Our mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action and changing policy to improve the health, safety and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.“