Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Rosie's For All Kids Foundation

By Caryn Yarnot

Graduate Student, Ferris State University - Grand Rapids Campus


Rosie O’Donnell’s For All Kids Foundation is a publicly-funded organization which provides non-profit organizations funding for at-risk children, parents, care-givers and teachers.  Rosie O’Donnell established this foundation to give each and every child an equal start in life and in their educational journey.  She believes that “every child deserves a bright beginning and a chance to make his or her own dreams come true”  (For All Kids Foundation). 

The foundation’s mission statement states “every child is a gift, strengthening our community, our humanity, and our hope for the future”  (ibid.).  The foundation awards grants to aide disadvantaged children at the beginning of their educational journey through quality child care and early childhood education programs.   Children, like trees, need a firm foundation to build upon through the years, and with an early quality education, disadvantaged children are then, equipped with the firm educational background they will need to expand their knowledge in future schooling. 


Historical Roots

The All Kids Foundation, although started in February, 1997, has made a significant difference for thousands of children around our country.   Since its founding the foundation has awarded more than 20 million dollars in grants to over 1,100 non-profit organizations in all fifty states and the District of Columbia (For All Kids Foundation).  Both corporations and individuals have provided funding to make these grants possible.  In an effort to give back to the community, the board of directors are not salaried and the advisory committee works on a volunteer basis allowing for the funding to go toward the children’s education instead of toward the foundation itself.

Rosie O’Donnell’s love of children and her passion for making children’s lives better prompted her to start the foundation.  Her need to assist children in making their dreams come true is evident in the organization, and providing an equal start in education became her main focus.  All children need to be provided with a stable, loving and safe environment before any educational studies can be learned.  Basic needs have to be met, and once met, optimal learning can take place. 


The importance the All Kids Foundation, is to help the children, our future, have equal opportunities in their early education.  With the aide of this foundation, at-risk children are provided funding to begin their educational journey in quality center-based programs.  In 2004, non-profit child care and early childhood programs accounted for 90 percent of grants awarded (For All Kids Foundation).  These grants allowed at-risk children attend quality educational programs that would not have been attainable without the financial aide of this foundation. 

After the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, All Kids Foundation raised $2.2 million for the children of the New York Fire Fighters, New York Police Department and the Port Authority for New York and New Jersey (Pierpoint 2001). It was a one time gift as a result of an extreme circumstance of need (All Kids Foundation).


Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

Since  the All Kids Foundation’s beginning, funds have been raised through a variety of fundraisers and products such as Rosie O’Doll, Kids are Punny and Kids are Punny 2 books, the Rosie O’Donnell—Friend of Barbie Doll, and the Rosie O’Donnell holiday CD’s  (Dempsey, 2002).  When Rosie was hosting the Rosie O’Donnell show, she would also raise funding for the All Kids Foundation through agreements with sponsors by providing them with free publicity.  The money raised was able to provide thousands of dollars to children who otherwise would not have been able to afford the quality care and education of more advantaged children. 

According to Foundation Directory Online, the All Kids Foundation is considered a public charity with the following purpose and activities:  “awards grants to help support the intellectual, social, and cultural development of disadvantaged children throughout the United States. It seeks to develop long-term relationships with donors and grant recipients based on a shared vision that recognizes nonprofit organizations as vital agents in the communities they serve. Grants are awarded to charitable programs without regard to race, nationality, religion, or political affiliation. The foundation primarily funds direct service providers offering programs to underserved children in the form of center-based child care, after school, literacy, health, and well-being programs” (Foundation Directory Online).

The foundation’s field of interest is children, day care and the economically disadvantaged.   It joins 6,837 foundation with a focus on children.  With assets in 2004 totaling $35 million, the foundation joins 1,298 other foundations with assets or an  between $25 and $35 million (ibid.).

The foundation welcomes the about 2,000 unsolicited proposals it receives each year. Applicants submit letter of intent and then the Grant Review Committee invites selected organizations to formally apply. Applicants submit the following information: population served, brief history of organization and description of its mission, detailed description of project and amount of funding requested, and one copy of proposal.  The board meets quarterly and funding notification occurs in March and October (ibid.).

Key Related Ideas

The White Rose Gala is an annual event “hosted each November by Rosie O’Donnell to recognize extraordinary individuals for their dedication to children’s causes and to raise funds for at-risk children across the country” (For All Kids Foundation). 

Quality Early Childhood Programs are considered, by most, to use a child centered approach to educating young children.  The expectation of the program is to provide a safe environment with loving adults to facilitate the children’s learning.  Children are able to explore, create and examine different learning styles to reach optimal learning. 

Disadvantaged Children are young children from birth to school age who are at-risk, come from low income families or come from single parent families.  These children, most likely, also are in disadvantaged communities which do not provide adequate child care or early childhood programs that the parent or parents can afford to send their children to for equal educational opportunities.

Important People Related to the Topic

Bill Gates (1955-):  Gates was recognized at the White Rose Gala for his allegiance to disadvantaged children’s causes.   He has donated generously to the foundation to aide early childhood education.

Mary Tyler Moore (1936-): Moore has been dedicated to children’s causes for many years.  She has been recognized at the White Rose Gala awards for her ongoing commitment to children.

Rosie O’Donnell  (1962-):  O’Donnell is the Founder and President of the All Kids Foundation for this organization.  She was born in Commack, Long Island.  Her mother died when she was 10 leaving behind five siblings and “an emotionally distant father.”  She was the star and creator of her own hit talk show and magazine, and has been in 17 films (Tribute.ca). 

Michael E. Smith:  Smith is the Executive Director of the All Kids Foundation.  He writes the annual reports for the foundation, and speaks publicly on their financial income, as well as their awarded grants. 

Related Nonprofit Organizations

  • Boys Hope Girls Hope provides disadvantaged children with a safe home life, quality education and adequate support to reach their full potential in their lives. 
    It also provides after-care services to youth who can not return to their biological families (http://www.boyshopegirlshope.org).

  • Grants to Alleviate Poverty is a Jewish fund to improve issues effecting low income people through public education and advocacy programs (http://www.jfjustice.org).

  • I Am Your Child Foundation was founded by Rob Reiner to educate parents on the importance of school readiness and early childhood development.  This foundation strives to make parents aware of the importance of a child’s cognitive, emotional, and social readiness before they go to school (http://iamyourchild.org).

  • Reach Out and Read is an organization of pediatricians are working to encourage a love of reading within young children by having children grow up with books in their households.  The doctors are engaging parents in reading with their children, and giving them the books to take action at home (http://www.reachoutandread.org).

Related Web Sites

The America Reads Challenge Web site, at http://www.ed.gov/inits/americareads/index.html, contains information on encouraging children to read at home, as well as, at school.  It also gives children a challenge of reading thirty minutes a day and explains to both children and parents what to do after your child has read. 

The Early Childhood Web site, at www.earlychildhood.com, provides articles that support early childhood education.  It gives family sites to encourage education at home, and also provides activities for parents to do with children at home to promote learning. 

The National Association of Education for Young Children Website, at www.NAEYC.org,  contains numerous articles to support the educational efforts of early childhood teachers.  The articles give new ideas and supply information to continue appropriate practices in early childhood learning. 

Bibliography and Internet Sources

Dempsey, Susan Carey.  “Rosie’s For All Kids Foundation”.  On Philanthropy,
 July 24, 2002.   http://www.onphilanthropy.com/articles/default.aspx.

For All Kids Foundation.  For All Kids Foundation.  Accessed 2004.

Foundation Directory Online. Accessed 2004. http://www.fconline.fdncenter.org.

Pierpoint, Mary.  “Celebrity helps little people.”  Administration for Children
  and Families, December 24, 2001.

Tribute.ca.  Celebrity Bios: Rosie O’Donnel. Accessed 2004. http://www.tribute.ca/bio.asp?id=3026.