Strategic Community Partners
Operation Warm identifies strategic community partners that represent leadership and high impact thus improving the lives of children and families living in need. Our strategy is to build strong partnerships and collaborations with national, regional and local community organizations that serve children in need and their families.
- A partner organization will have the capacity to identify the children most in need and fulfill the distribution of the coats to its constituency without charge.
- A partner organization will complete a year-end evaluation to determine the value of the partnership and what a new winter coat means to the organization’s children. This evaluation will be a condition to future partnership with Operation Warm.
- A partner organization will have a procedure that creates value for a coat received. Operation Warm will not dictate what that method shall be but will provide illustrative ideas/examples to our partners.
- Most importantly, there must be a willingness to collaborate with Operation Warm on all of the above mentioned criteria with the goal of generating impact and affecting positive social change.
In establishing these criteria our goal is to grow and to serve more children as economically and efficiently as possible. It is Operation Warm's belief that the stronger the partnerships established, the more children we will positively affect and the greater contribution we will ultimately make. We greatly value each of our strategic partnerships and strive to make them as effective as possible.
In Boston, Operation Warm partners with over 25 designated funder organizations, including BELL, a nonprofit that provides educational summer and after-school programs to thousands of children in Boston, New York City and Baltimore. BELL's mission is to “increase the academic achievements, self-esteem and life opportunities for children living in low-income, urban communities." Bell donated Operation Warm coats to students enrolled in their programs who maintained better than 80% attendance rates. That is just one example of how Operation Warm partners with an organization to get a better result by combining what we do to produce a better outcome and extend assistance to low income children.
In Chicago, Operation Warm has entered into a private public partnership with the the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), and the Chicago Department of Human Services (CDHS) to distribute new coats to families living in public housing and shelters. Since we began in 2008, The CHA has distributed over 34,000 coats to residents in a city-wide Impact Beyond Warmth distribution event which includes a resource fair. So these low income families, averaging less than $13,000 in annual income and support payments, not only receive the warmth and cheer of new winter coats for their children, they are connected with valuable social resources.
Operation Warm has a long history of working with organizations in Delaware. One of those programs is the Early Intervention Program of The Department of Services for Children and their Families. The program is school-based and is designed to reach out to children and families and try to eliminate the need for state intervention. Family crisis therapists work with 51 schools to support families and identify the resources needed.
In each school that participated therapists were able to set up a coat closet. The therapists used the coats as incentives for families in their caseloads by encouraging parents to attend their children’s parent-teacher conference and obtain a coat. As a result, school faculties were able to engage parents in a meaningful and positive manner.
In Pennsylvania, where Operation Warm was founded over a decade ago, a wide range of organizations work to better the lives of children in the state. The Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth and Family Services (PCCYFS) is a statewide organization of private agencies that work to improve the quality of the lives of Pennsylvania‘s children and families.
In 2008, PCCYFS and the Colonial Oaks Foundation spread the gift of giving through their “Play it Forward, Pass it On” theme. Inside the pocket of each coat was a note, which indicated the coat was an act of kindness just for them and asked each child to do something for someone else. They were also asked to take care of the coat so they could pass it on once they outgrew it. As a result, Operation Warm received hundreds of postcards sharing what the children did; they helped neighbors carry groceries, cleaned up their school classrooms for teachers, and many other such acts of kindness.
For the last seven years, Councilwomen Blondell Reynolds Brown of the Philadelphia City Council has collected and distributed hats, gloves, scarves and mittens to children living in Philadelphia’s shelter system. With the help of the Office of Supportive Housing, Operation Warm, and Councilwoman Reynolds Brown teamed up and provided 3,000 coats to go with the hats, gloves and scarves to homeless children in Philadelphia.
In New York, Operation Warm works with The Harlem Children’s Zone, a nationally-recognized organization that is dedicated to “breaking the cycle of generational poverty for the thousands of children and families it serves.” It does that by providing a “holistic system of education, social-service and community-building programs aimed at helping children in families in a 97 block area of Central Harlem.” The New York Times has called HCZ, “one of the most ambitious social-services of our time.”
Since 2006, Operation Warm, in partnership with HCZ, has distributed over 10,000 coats to children in Harlem.
“Children in poor communities such as Harlem face a variety of problems, any of which can be an obstacle to achievement,” said HCZ President and CEO Geoffrey Canada. Canada continues, “We are thrilled that we can give these kids coats so they can be warm and more likely to go to school on a freezing day and stay healthy throughout the winter.”