2020 Annual Report

Tom Cole

A Message From Our CEO

It certainly goes without saying, 2020 will be a year that no one will forget.   In the past year, we have experienced hardships that no one could have imagined.  Our country and our local communities have suffered through the difficulties of navigating a global pandemic amidst increased challenges of unemployment, political unrest, and in our own backyard, the catastrophic events of a devastating fire. While the adversities have been overwhelming, our staff celebrates the incredible acts of heroism and courage that truly highlight the spirit of what makes the work of Kids Unlimited unique.

More than any other year, 2020 reinforced the power of resiliency. Over the last 23 years, we have seen countless successes of children who have risen above difficulties, but none greater than those compounded by Covid19.  The impact of losing daily access to our children was devastating and combined with the demise of so many important programs, positions, events, and funding streams connected to our work, we felt debilitated.  Suddenly, we recognized the dire need created by the economic impact to our families. The loss of employment for so many, combined with increased isolation and trauma to households already struggling prior to the pandemic, created an urgency for us to respond.  With no blueprint other than the immediate recognition of need, Kids Unlimited responded and never could I have been more proud of the difference we made in the face of what seemed like insurmountable odds.

When asked what makes our service to kids and families unique, we need to look no further than the evolution of services provided after the pandemic.For decades, we have believed that at the core of what we do is an unconditional commitment to a relationship with our kids. Not just a service, we share in both the success and the struggle of our kids.  For us, our kids are family. When our kids and families needed us the most, we were determined to launch services to accommodate those needs. Our ability to be guided by the importance of necessity, without fearing the recognition that our work had to massively shift, is something collectively we embraced.  The responsiveness to evolve our systems to reflect what is needed is at the foundation of who we are. This is a defining quality of the Unlimited.

During the pandemic, the Unlimited meant providing hundreds of thousands of meals, many delivered to homes without transportation, assuring our children would not go hungry.  When learning required online services, the Unlimited serviced hundreds of homes with internet and computers while supporting daily parental resources to families in both English and Spanish to ensure equitable learning.  Knowing what our kids needed, we delivered art and school supplies so that kids could pursue enrichments despite their inability to be on campus.  And to further sustain connections, the Unlimited provided weekly supports to vulnerable families with essential resource assistance and mental health services.

Nothing is more important to us than ensuring all children, regardless of circumstance, have access to opportunity.  Through you, Kids Unlimited could provide hope during the toughest of times.Through you, a confidence was built that together, we could overcome.On behalf of our entire organization, I would like to sincerely thank you for your kindness, love, and generosity. I am both proud and humbled by your incredible investments in our kids.

Tom Cole

Tom Cole President & CEO

Empowerment Through Opportunity

For 23 years, Kids Unlimited has stood as an institution for equity, opportunity, and hope.  Our mission to empower youth through opportunity has provided thousands of young people with the support they need to learn, grow, play, dream and achieve.   The successes of Kids Unlimited have helped to transform the life of our community, creating equity and integration and as we like to say, leveling the playing field.

Today, Kids Unlimited represents an institution dedicated to removing cultural and poverty barriers to always meet the needs of children.  Our programs have grown from grassroots activities to formalized systems designed to empower children and their families with opportunities to be successful.  The core of everything we do begins with relationships.   Today, decades from our beginning, our work is represented in almost every sector of the community, state, and nation.  Our alumni, many who have been the first in their families to graduate from high school are now leaders in health care, business, public service, and education.  They are business owners, entrepreneurs, doctors, nurses, contractors, artists, teachers, parents, and productive members of their community.  Most importantly, they serve as testimonies to what is possible when barriers are removed, and opportunities are accessed.

When the pandemic hit, the challenge of what it meant to maintain a relationship was immediately recognized.  Our kids depend on us daily for learning, to access healthy nutrition and find self-esteem and belonging.  When the barriers of Covid19 became reality, we immediately found ourselves designing new systems to overcome the obstacles.  Not only did we devise innovative learning platforms that were sensitive to both the cultural and economic needs of our kids and families, but we also developed programs to assure kids could still engage with music, arts and even recreation.   We provided daily mental health supports, provided hundreds of thousands of freshly prepared nutritious meals to children who might otherwise go hungry and assisted hundreds of children with critical emergency childcare.

Despite the obstacles, we found ways to creatively celebrate the graduation of all 8th grade KU Academy students, open two pre-schools in Jackson County for vulnerable children and open a second KU Academy charter school in White City.  Together with the generous support of our community, the work of Kids Unlimited could be responsive and impactful.While the need has always guided the vision, the implementation of programs that grew from the challenges further strengthened and enhanced our ability to provide meaningful resources.


“In the face of adversity, hope often comes in the form of a friend who reaches out to us”

- Christopher Reeve

While 2020 provided no shortage of disappointments and challenges, it also will be year remembered for new beginnings. During the last year Kids Unlimited was able to open some of our most important organizational accomplishments. With your help, we can celebrate these new beginnings.

Beautifying The Neighborhood

Over the past year our Kids Unlimited campus has undergone one of the most transformative artistic murals in the region. The piece canvasing thousands of square feet and featuring geometric color patterns designed by nationally acclaimed artist Xavi Panneton.The newly moralized Kids Unlimited has received regional and national attention and featured in acclaimed architectural publications.

The mural has helped to not only share a unified vision for our campus but lift the presence of our neighborhood which has historically been recognized as our region’s most distressed neighborhood. With a combination of vibrant colors, shapes and imagery the mural celebrates diversity and lifts the awareness of our work in one of the most historically distressed neighborhoods in the Southern Oregon region.

Click on the arrows to scroll left or right in the gallery below, or click on an image to enlarge.

Kimmel Family Resource Center

Just before the pandemic paralyzed our operations, we opened our Kimmel Family Resource Center. The building took over a year to remodel and is home to our first pre-school program, Pre KU. Dedicated to providing culturally responsive learning to students often deprived of early learning programs, the center features kinesthetic learning rooms, indoor playgrounds, outdoor gardens and multi-sensory classrooms dedicated to quality learning standards to help students transition into our KU Academy. The center also integrates a parental literacy center supported by the Meyer Memorial Trust providing a multitude of bi-lingual parent education support services to assist holistic family learning. In addition to literacy, education and wrap around services the center also houses empowerment printing our first entrepreneurial project for middle and high school students providing a full-service printing and embroidery company. 

While the opening of this center was incredibly uplifting, it’s unexpected closure was deflating. The energy to bring the building to fruition and it’s connectivity to completing a full campus dedicated to pre-school to college pipeline was a fulfillment of a dream to bridge a history of services together to create a universal system of care for our kids and families. And while the forced closure of the center certainly halted the newly launched services, the center transitioned quickly to an emergency services support center to meet the sudden needs of families unexpectedly impacted by Covid19. The new building became a hub for brokering technology and online education and basic need services for both English and non English speaking families while finding renewed purpose in the fall in hosting our emergency service pre-school.

The Unlimited of 2020

Distance Learning
KU Academy Students Enrolled in Distance Learning or Emergency On-Site Classes
After School Programs
Children Participating in After School & Weekend Programs
Summer Program
Children Enrolled in Our Summer Program 2019/2020
Food Programs
Meals Served to KU Families and Our Community
Literacy Programs
Parents Participating in Our Family Literacy Programs
Pre School
Children Enrolled in Pre-School Services
Transition Programs
Graduates Enrolled in Our Transition Programs

KU Academy White City

With emerging population growth and pressing needs for student achievement, KU Academy opened a second campus in White City.

The school, a partnership with Eagle Point school district opened in the fall of 2020 with dedicated emergency childcare designed to support our first classes of kindergarten as well as a second site for our pre-school Pre KU.

In addition to the newly opened campus, the center has also provided thousands of fresh, daily cooked meals to vulnerable children and families of the upper Rogue communities.

KU Academy Distance Learning Journey

When our students left the KUA campus on March 13, 2020, we never imagined that they wouldn’t return to the classrooms.  We immediately began planning how to support our students academic and socio-emotional needs.  This included determining the best platform to reach students for virtual instruction, ensuring that every student had a computer at home and reliable internet access, training our teachers how to use these new digital technologies, and communicating with parents all of the new changes that were occurring.  Simple things such as how to organize materials to send home and figuring out who needed internet and school supplies became part of our daily routine.

KUA developed the VIBE (Virtual Instruction Brining Equity) Comprehensive Distance Learning program, which includes live instruction via Zoom.  In the spring, we were one of the few schools to offer daily live instruction to our students - and to continue our music, art, PE, ELD (classes for English learners) and other electives classes virtually.  Our parents appreciated the variety of classes and daily interaction with teachers.  Our VIBE Advocacy Team checked in on students who weren’t logging in to classes, provided technical assistance, and delivered materials to their homes if needed.

Moreover, our small group instruction via breakout rooms, interventions with specialists to meet individual learning needs, high quality instruction, hands on virtual garden lessons, and teachers office hours for homework help set us apart from other schools.   

Finally, the VIBES advocacy team was implemented to assist students with socio-emotional supports and behavioral needs.  These efforts were designed to create support services for students who were struggling with any number of adversities experienced during the isolation struggles of covid19 in addition to those who experienced hardships with the Almeda fire.  Our ability to evolve and implement services to meet the individual needs of each of our students represented our commitment to the foundation of our work, a relationship.

Almeda Fire

When the devastating Almeda fire decimated the communities of Phoenix and Talent hundreds of homes were destroyed forever changing the landscape of that community. For 41 members of our Kids Unlimited community it meant, losing everything.   In the immediate wake of the fire, Kids Unlimited and our community of supporters began to mobilize campaigns to not only stabilize the immediate families connected to our organization but also leverage our support systems to assist hundreds of people impacted by the natural disaster.

  • Clothing and Food Drive with Medford Rogue Rotary Club
  • Rogue Valley Essentials and Food Drive: a massive fire relief effort providing thousands of clothing items, basic need toiletries and food items
  • Emergency food access to families in Rogue Valley and Upper Rogue
  • Emergency childcare
  • Emergency lodging provisions
  • Permanent housing for 14 individuals displaced with Kids Unlimited managed housing support

Emergency Childcare

Since the onset of the pandemic, Kids Unlimited recognized that the transition to online learning was hardest on homes with limited English proficiency and those struggling with other barriers created by poverty. Beginning in September, Kids Unlimited provided nearly 350 students a day with on site childcare infused with pod learning to assist vulnerable learners who we recognized were most at risk of falling through the cracks. The emergency childcare provision ran 10 hours a day and was designed to provide small groups with tutoring to assist online learning, access to healthy food and nutrition and quality enrichment programs focusing on raising self esteem and confidence.

Food Distribution

One of the most important programs of this past year has been our food distribution system. The food program became an essential service for thousands of meals to children who would otherwise face food insecurities because of the pandemic. Each day, freshly prepared and cooked from scratch meals were distributed in the thousands. As the pandemic’s toll increased those in isolation and those facing unemployment, the dependency on our food program grew daily. Since March, Kids Unlimited has provided hundreds of thousands of healthy meals to not only children enrolled in our programs but to children throughout some of the of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Southern Oregon including both Medford and White City. The meal distribution has grown to providing families with 7 days of offerings to ensure that during our communities most volatile time, no child would go hungry. To support families isolated without access to transportation, Kids Unlimited hundreds of hours delivering food daily ensuring access to all.

Our Leadership

Kids Unlimited Board: Chuck Martinez
Stephanie Johnson
Rick Hutchins
Jeri Olson
Pat Huycke
Rachael Martin
David Carroll
Greg Jones
Andy Batzer
Rocio Mendoza
KU Academy Medford Board: Michelle Blum
Julia McFadden
Pedro Cabrerra
Paul McClay
Greg Aldridge
Ryan Bernard
Martha Ibarra
Jani Hale
Pat Barry
Lisa Hutchins
KU Academy White City Board: Rocio Mendoza
Larissa Medina
Gonzalo Duran Chapparo
Lindsay Namanny
Nagely Medina
Jani Hale
Stephanie Johnson - Advisory
Jeri Olson - Advisory

Click on a title below to see the great people who make the Unlimited possible:

Tom Cole: Founder and CEO
Cass Weiland: Chief Financial Officer
Sunshine Price: KU Academy Director of Academics
Raco Verhaaren: HR & Business Development Director
Kevin Williams: Print / Media and IT Director
AJ Schultz: KU Academy Director of School Culture
Judy Patterson: KU Programs Director
Crystal Hidde: Early Learning Services Director
Michelle Hull: Admin Services Director
Jason Patterson: Facilities Manager
Maria Gomez: Finance Assistance Manager
Irasema Huerta: KU Academy Admin Assistant
Patrick Sewell: IT Department Manager
Jane McAlvage: Grants Manager
Darian Hardaway: KU Academy Programs Manager
Jordan Jennings: Behavior Systems Coordinator
Susie Garcia: Literacy Center/Volunteer Manager
Zoie Sheng:Program Specialist
Sean O’Connell: Food Services Director
Hilda De Lara Cruz: Head Chef Medford Campus
Gail Alvarez - 1st Grade Teacher
Gina Arellanes - Teacher
Adrienne Baraona - Art Teacher
Halle Brandenburg - Kinder Teacher
Karen Cluff - 5th Grade Teacher
Molly Cullen - 1st Grade Teacher
Jarrett Davidson - ELD/Art Teacher
Orlando De La Cruz - 7th/8th Math Teacher
Shelby Dias - 3rd Grade Teacher
Magnolia Englehart - Kindergarten Teacher
Kathleen Erickson - 3rd Grade Teacher
Dominique Fava - Pre-K Instructor
Megan Foster - 4th Grade Teacher
Whitney Hanlin - 2nd Grade Teacher
Cassidy Herick - 7th/8th Language Arts Teacher
Jennifer Hobbs - Preschool Instructor
Angela Jackson - Preschool Instructor
Brianna Johnson - Music Teacher
Gabrielle Kelly - 5th Grade Teacher
Melinda Koch - Kinder Teacher
Teresa LeMay - 549c Ee
Hannah Mannenbach - Substitute Teacher
Michael McCollom - 7th/8th Social Studies Teacher
Callie McQueen - 549c Ee
Rose Montan - Substitute Teacher
Ashlie Moore - 549c Ee
Andrew Norum - PE Teacher
Ginger Olinghouse - ELD Teacher
Yolanda Rambo de Ortega - ELD Teacher
Jaqueline Rangel - Preschool Instructor
Jacob Rooks - PE Teacher
Tracy Rude - PE Teacher
Jennifer Shields - 2nd Grade Teacher
Maggie Skyler - 6th/7th Science Teacher
Murri Smith - Float Teacher
Lupita Vargas - 8th Science/STEM Coordinator
Elsa Veloz - Pre-K Teacher Assistant
Alexandria Warnke-Crary - Kindergarten Teacher
Emily Warnke-Crary - 6th Language Arts Teacher
Zackary Williams - 6th Math
Karla Alanis - Preschool Teacher Assistant
Roger Allemand - Schoolwide Aide
Danasia Allison - Schoolwide Aide
David Alvarez - Schoolwide Aide
Rose Alvarez - Schoolwide Aide
>Bailey Barnhart - Schoolwide Aide
Michelle Beguin - Schoolwide Aide
Jasmin Borjas - Schoolwide Aide
Alondra Cortes - Schoolwide Aide
Jessica Cempa - Schoolwide Aide
Kerissa D’Arpino - Preschool Aide
Sarah Donovan - Schoolwide Aide<
Lessly Duran - Schoolwide Aide
Tiffany Eggleston - Schoolwide Aide
Lilian Ferguson - Preschool Aide
Justin Fisher - Schoolwide Aide
Angelica Fletes-Perez - Schoolwide Aide
Devon Foster - Schoolwide Aide
Guadalupe Gomez - Schoolwide Aide
Ampelia Gonzalez - Schoolwide Aide
Eduardo Ibarra - Schoolwide Aide
Daniela Ibarra - Title/Schoolwide Aide
Whitney Lee - Preschool Aide
Liliana Lopez - Kindergarten Assistant
Christian Nava - Schoolwide Aide
Leslie Perezchica - Schoolwide Aide
Ricardo Rangel-Botello - Kinder Assistant
Jasmine Reyes - Schoolwide Aide
Juan Sauceda - Schoolwide Aide
Timothy Smith - Schoolwide Aide
Brendon Surgeon - Schoolwide Aide
Brenda Tavarez - Kindergarten Assistant
Valentine Welch - Preschool Aide
Sarah Workman
Yesenia Zepeda
Fabiola Banuelos - Kitchen Assistant
Reynalda Cortes - Custodian
Norberta Cortes Guerra - Kitchen Assistant
Cira Cortes-Guerra - Kitchen Assistant
Stephenie Denham - Custodian - White City
Hillary Ferrell - Kitchen Assistant
>Yuritzi Gomez-Ayala - Translator/Attendance Clerk
Katrina Hanson - Kitchen Assistant
Jenny Hayes - Kitchen Assistant
Jose Jimenez - Receptionist
Norma Jimenez - Kitchen Assistant
Joshua McCann - Temp Kitchen Aide
Angela Medina - Schoolwide Aide
Anahi Mendoza - Preschool Aide
Crisol Meza - Schoolwide Aide
Eugenia Miedecke - Custodian
Wendy Muro - Kitchen Assistant
Karen Perez - Kitchen Assistant
Maria Rosas - Kitchen Aide
Josefina Tellez - Evening Custodian
Kalyn Tresch - Schoolwide Aide
Daniela Vargas - Schoolwide Aide