When Kids Unlimited CEO and founder Tom Cole created Kids Unlimited in 1998 with a grassroots pilot program at a low income elementary school it was to do one thing, empower kids to believe.  The belief that all kids, despite their backgrounds and economic limitations deserved accessibility to opportunities.  Driven by the belief that through education, we could empower children and their families, Kids Unlimited became a conduit to hope and today our mission has become a community norm.



Tom Cole moved to Oregon in 1995 after working for nationally recognized youth efforts in Missouri.  After graduating from Missouri State University with degrees in Sociology and Psychology Tom left his work as a program director of a nationally recognized Boys and Girls Club.  After moving to Oregon to develop the region’s first Boys and Girls Club, Tom realized that the efforts to reach children had to reflect more than a replication of a national model, it had to reflect the challenges of the local Southern Oregon community and in 1998 established Kids Unlimited the first after school program designed to meet the needs of children of poverty with purposeful integration of Latino families.  Today Kids Unlimited programs have been recognized for their ability to produce outcomes that have changed the lives of kids, families and our community.

Tom’s leadership accomplishment:

  • 2000 Rolling Stone Magazine  Do Something National Award Finalist
  • 2002 Governor’s Juvenile Crime Prevention Task Force
  • 2005  Jackson County Imagine Award for Community Peacekeeping Efforts
  • 2007  National Jefferson Award for Community Leadership
  • 2010  Medford Community Hero Award
  • 2012  6A Oregon Coach of the Year
  • 2012  Appointed to Governor Kitzhaber’s OEIB board
  • 2012  Selected as one of Southern Oregon’s Most Influential People by Southern Oregon Magazine



1998 First after school program started with $500 venture grant at Oak Grove elementary
1999 First summer camp created serving 150 kids
1999 After school programs expand to Washington Elementary School
2000 VIBES Main 1 Arts Center opens
2001 Rolling Stone Magazine and MTV receives national recognition for innovative program model
2001 Carpenter Dance Studio opens providing first dance program inside Main 1 Arts Center
2002 First basketball program begins with 15 kids
2003 First Rotary Kids Unlimited basketball Pass to Play program created
2003 Middle School programs operating in Medford and White City
2004 Kids Unlimited opens center at former bowling alley
2007 Kids Unlimited opens commercial kitchen and Olsrud Court expanding program to include community basketball leagues
2008 After school programs expand to 5 Title 1 Elementary schools in Medford and two middle school programs
2009 Kids Unlimited opens first suspension and expulsion program and begins SES tutoring services for turnaround schools in the Medford School District
2011 Tom Cole appointed Governor Kitzhaber’s OEIB development board
2012 Kids Unlimited expands elementary school and summer program youth development model to the community of White City
2013 Kids Unlimited expands elementary school and summer program youth development model to the community of White City
2013 Kids Unlimited opens VIBES public Charter school open to 150 students 1st through 3rd
2014 VIBES public charter school is officially renamed Kids Unlimited Academy and expands to kindergarten through 4th grade with 250 students
2015 Kids Unlimited Academy opens year three of charter school open to grades kindergarten through 5th grade, serving 300 students