A Message From Our CEO

For those of us who remember the classic New Year’s song “Auld Lang Syne,” there’s a deeper message in the old Scots motto.

“We’ll take a cup of kindness yet” is the line that sticks with me: kindness and blessings. Those are the words that come to mind when I reflect on Kids Unlimited’s 25th year of serving kids and families — and the years still in store for our work.

Kids Unlimited in 2023 represented the culmination of an outpouring of kindness, love, commitment and hope. I feel so humbled and blessed to have known people who gave their all and left an incredible mark on this organization. Collectively, our work to create educational opportunities and achieve equity for children of poverty transformed community norms in Southern Oregon, as we all dreamed.

A quarter century since Kids Unlimited’s inception as a grassroots afterschool program with 50 participants, our model is revered as undeniable proof of what can happen when kids are empowered with opportunities. Our participants are leaders in their professions, their communities and in their commitment to Kids Unlimited. Theirs are the strongest testaments to our work’s longevity. They are the Unlimited.

The strength of our relationships has always been Kids Unlimited’s greatest strength. And our capacity for building relationships will only become more vital in the coming years.

Family bonds are being tested in this time of digital-age distractions, technology’s constant interruptions and the diversion of traditional adolescent development. Despite the migration of activities and attention spans online, kids and adults alike still yearn for real connections that imbue their everyday experiences with meaning.     

Engaging our families in new ways was a key initiative in 2023. We developed programs and systems to reconnect with our parents and integrate kids and families as shared participants in our mission.

The new parent involvement plan for KU Academy engages families in hands-on monthly school events and educational opportunities. Read more on page 11 about how we incentivize regular family participation and volunteering. 

A highlight of this effort was 2023’s holiday campaign, culminating in our Whoville-themed party, where more than 1,500 kids and parents engaged in activities to make holiday memories, share kindness and love and prioritize quality time together over winter break by utilizing items in gift bags that went home with every family. 

It was just one of several celebrations in commemoration of 25 years. In June, Kids Unlimited hosted our annual fundraising gala with a special look back at our quarter century of youth development. More than 40 people, representing diverse aspects of our organization, shared their experiences for “The Kids Unlimited 25th Anniversary Story.” Several are featured inside this report, and all can be read on our website.    

What do the next 25 years look like? While we can’t predict the future, we can look to the past for a blueprint for what’s made our organization unique: responding, adapting and never being afraid of change. Pivotal changes for our organization emerged in 2023, when we began constructing the framework for programming that will yield new opportunities and move us into the next quarter century.

The qualities of our commitment to children and families must define the next 25 years. We recognized in 1998 that kindness could make the difference for them. It still does today, and it will in the future.

Thank you for your belief in the Unlimited.   

Tom Cole

Tom Cole
President & CEO

The Mission, The Movement, The Institution

Kids Unlimited has spent nearly a quarter of a century assuring access and equity to all children.Our mission to empower through opportunity has provided the support our children have needed to learn, grow, play, dream and achieve.   Adversity is at the heart of the KU origin story and although the pandemic altered many operational programs, our commitment to kids never wavered.

If you know Kids Unlimited, you know our history is one of learning, responding, growing, and achievement.   Our journey tells the story of what can happen when you remove obstacles from kids and surround them with the assets they need to be successful.  Twenty-five years ago, as our first kids grew, so did we.   As an organization, we continue the work of mirroring the actions we hope to foster in our children: listening, learning, and most importantly, doing.  We’ve celebrated successes and suffered together through tragedies; but, every lesson has strengthened our resolve.  Longevity has taught us that believing in a dream is one thing, but achieving that dream requires hard work.  By removing barriers and creating opportunities, we have built an institution where education is prioritized and hard work, accepting responsibility, and showing respect for all, is reinforced daily.

We have witnessed first hand that the Kids Unlimited mission to empower children to better themselves and their communities has perpetuated a responsibility to give back.  Every day in the hallways of our Medford and White City campuses, our children find inspiration and support from faculty who grew up in Kids Unlimited.  Our alumni are teachers, board members, faculty and coaches who not only understand the challenges our kids face, but they offer a road map of how to overcome barriers.  They are living testimonies of the Kids Unlimited mission.   

Decades from our beginnings as a grassroots youth development organization dedicated to youth in poverty, our work today remains embedded, not only in the halls of Kids Unlimited, but in almost every sector of the community, state, and nation.  The contributions of thousands of alumni who grew up in Kids Unlimited validate our mission to “empower through opportunity”.  Today these KU alumni are business entrepreneurs, doctors, nurses, accountants, artists, teachers, parents, and most importantly, invested members of our community.


KU Academy Students Medford = 475

KU Academy Students White City = 104

Kids Unlimited Pre-School Services = 74

Kids Unlimited After School and Summer = 840

Parents Participation = 1,120

Graduates in Transition Program = 316

Clothing Items Distributed = 13,368

Meals Served = 393,122

Our Students at a Glance

97% students of povertyattending KU Academies

85% of students in Pre-K Unlimited ARE students of poverty

100% of students in the after school programs are located at schools of poverty

81% students of Latinx community

62% students of non Englishspeaking households

Community Centered Services

The Kids Unlimited campus provides a home to community classrooms, an art center, a dance studio, kitchen, library, and recreational spaces.  As we grow the Unlimited, our community programs continue to evolve.

The Kids Unlimited campus offers programs that support youth at every age of development.  Beginning with our early learning pre-schools and extending beyond young adulthood, our programs support not only the children, but the ever changing needs of our families.  Within the walls of Kids Unlimited, families can find bilingual support in our community centers where educational activities, literacy programs, family recreation, and parenting programs are offered at no cost, seven days a week.

While 2020 separated us, 2021 brought us back.  This year, with our campus completely remodeled, we reopened programs designed to provide holistic services for children, teens, and parents.

Kimmel Family Resource Center

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Main Medford Campus

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Food For Thought

The value of good health is hard to measure but the cost of poor health is more than evident in our daily health care systems.  In 2021, Kids Unlimited saw continued growth in the number of student meals served at our KU Academies in Medford and White City also expanding to provide nearly 2,500 dinners every week to our eight high poverty elementary school sites.  In total, over 393,000 meals were provided to children and families in 2021.

Meeting the needs of hunger is a huge responsibility, yet even greater is knowing how important the foot print of access to nutrition is for children that rely almost exclusively on our food.  Research reinforces and recognizes the impact of nutrition and healthy food on a generational health trajectory.  The Kids Unlimited food program is committed to providing healthy, cooked from scratch meals daily to assure no child in our program is deprived of nutrition.  By providing three nutritious meals for our children ages 3 to 18, we are influencing not only daily health but instilling positive lifelong habits.

The Royal Treatment

Did you know that our KU Academy mascot is the Royals?  It seemed like the perfect match when locally owned Royal Coffee created a campaign with NFL superstar WR Odell Beckham Jr. to celebrate and support the critical delivery of fresh food to vulnerable children.  The campaign kicked off with a visit from Odell who joined our kids for the afternoon to eat, share, and listen with them.

“Children are our future and the work that a place like Kids Unlimited does for children is critical and I know firsthand how hard it can be for many people to have healthy food.  The campaign to support healthy meals is critical and myself and Royal Coffee are proud to be a part of it.”
Odell Beckham Jr.

Besides supporting our efforts to feed children healthy meals, the partnership is helping to cultivate entrepreneurial and work experiences for our middle and high schools.  Says CEO Jason Hanlin, “we are excited not only by the cause but it’s inspiring to see the creativity that can be cultivated when these young people are given opportunities.”

Click on the video below to watch:

A Commitment to Education: Kids Unlimited Academy Public Charter School

As we continue to grow, so has our KU Academy education models.  With campuses in Medford and White City, our public charter schools have provided over 500 students with a robust model for learning.  At KUA we provide not only a standard based education with ongoing teacher and aide training, but we also provide a 10 hour day of learning beginning at 7:30 a.m. and running until 5:30 p.m.  A high quality breakfast, lunch, and dinner is also cooked from scratch daily.  Students benefit from our year round school model, extended school day, and free after school enrichment.  As our mission statement promises, we are dedicated to ensuring our children are provided more instructional time, enriching programs, and a high expectations, no excuse environment to ensure that high school graduation, college success, and career readiness are reasonable goals for all students regardless of race, gender, economic status, or zip code.

2021 brought many new and unique challenges!  KUA started 2021 where 2020 left off with just over 300 students attending from PreK-8th grade benefiting from emergency childcare.  Students who would otherwise struggle at home with virtual learning benefited from the help of instructional assistants to complete their online work.  They also enjoyed in person benefits of healthy meals, PE, peer interaction, mental health supports, and access to limited in person instruction from teachers.  In late February 2021, we began the transition to return to campus classes for in person learning.   

After returning to in person learning we immediately recognized the significant gap in not only academic performances but also the socio-emotional challenges that were compounded by nearly a year of isolation.  Our board, staff, and families unanimously agreed to respond in the most responsible means we could and that was the adoption of an all year school model.

In August, we launched our first year long school calendar which added nearly three additional weeks of instructional time for students – based on feedback from our families and staff.  This extra learning time is essential to bridging the unfinished learning gaps and is combined with our VIBES behavior team which provides early and sustained interventions for supporting behavior and socio emotional needs of our students.

In December, our full time Garden Educator and Coordinator began working at KU.  This role will support classrooms with garden/nutrition instruction during the school day and during our camps.  The Garden Educator will work with PreK-8th grade students in Medford and White City.

PRE-K Unlimited

We all know, time matters.  We also know that building a solid foundation to learning is critical to future successes.  In 2021, PreK Kids Unlimited was able to open our first full year of operations.  With pre-schools at both our KU Academies in Medford and White city, our early learning program is designed to meet the need of some of our community’s most vulnerable learners.  In 2021, Pre-K Unlimited served 91 early learners.  Our pre-school programs are designed to be culturally competent and dedicated to a diverse and enriching learning environment removing cultural and economic barriers that often prevent access.  Our pre-school programs are also connected to our holistic system of  family wrap around resources and services dedicated to the engagement of the entire family including siblings who are also enrolled in our KU Academy public charter schools.  Pre-K Unlimited offers a wide array of activities dedicated to exposing our three and four year old students to education, motor skill development, art, music, healthy nutrition, and a variety of stimulating play activities.

This year Pre-K Unlimited also celebrated its first ever award as “Southern Oregon’s Best of the Best Preschool and Childcare” by the Mail Tribune of Southern Oregon.

Commitment To Relationships

Heroes We Lost In 2021

Perry HallDay of passing August 12th, 2021
A friend to all.  Perry was one of our most beloved staff.  Perry was involved with Kids Unlimited since 1998.

Jim Lowman Day of passing September 25, 2021
Mentor, friend and KU family.  His belief in kids was unconditional.

Wilder Brooks Day of passing August 15, 2021
One of our first kindergarten students at our White City Kids Unlimited Academy campus. He was a beautiful and kind child with an infectious passion for life.

Empowerprint Unlimited

Since our beginning, Kids Unlimited has always provided youth in our program with warm clothing and school uniforms. While the numbers of children and familes we are serving continue to rise, so does the need for clothing. We believed we could be more impactful if we were able to do our own printing.  This year one of our most successful programs has been the launching of Empowerprint Unlimited grown from our commitment to ensuring clothing is not a barrier for our students.  Since opening in 2021, Empowerprint Unlimited has printed and distributed over 25,000 garments to those in need while teaching and providing work experiences for our middle and high school students. Empowerprint not only increases our capacity but it also provides an entrepreneurial endeavor for our kids to learn design and gain employment skills while learning to run their own business.

Back To Sports

Watching kids return to the gyms and fields was one of the highlights of 2021. After months of isolation, resuming fitness and play was imperative. We celebrated championships, scholarships and the expansion of sports.  In 2021 KU Academy began our first ever volleyball program and boys basketball program.

Research suggests that sadly, 77% of kids who live in households impacted by severe poverty do not play sports.  With over 80% of our children representing families living below the poverty line, we are committed to ensuring that all kids can access sports. This year Kids Unlimited’s sports programs made a historical impact.

Historical Season

Kids Unlimited helped celebrate the success of the South Medford Lady Panther girls basketball team’s undefeated state championship season.  In one of the most bizarre years in sports, girls who grew up playing for well over 10 years at Kids Unlimited watched their dreams come true.  In addition to an undefeated championship season, six of our young ladies earned basketball scholarships.  Over the years, Kids Unlimited’s Olsrud court has been a place kids can play, train, and compete. This year recognized the 26th female student athlete to receive a college basketball scholarship.

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
Greg Aldridge
Ryan Bernard
Martha Ibarra
Jani Hale
Pat Barry
Lisa Hutchins
Ignacio Sanchez>br> Judy Duffy
KU Academy White City Board: Rocio Mendoza
Larissa Medina
Gonzalo Duran Chapparo
Lindsay Namanny
Nagely Medina
Stephanie Johnson - Advisory
Jeri Olson - Advisory

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

Tom Cole – CEO Kids Unlimited
Sunshine Price – Director of Academics
AJ Schultz – Director of School Culture
Ericka Beck-Brattin – Principal – White City
Yuri Gomez Ayala – Office Supervisor/Translator White City
Cass Weiland – Chief Financial Officer
Raco Verhaaren – HR & Business Development Director
Kevin Williams – Print / Media and IT Director
Judy Peterson – Afterschool Program Director
Andrea Gee – KUA Afterschool Site Manager
Jani Hale – Administrative Liaison
Jason Paterson – Director of Facilities
Angie Perez – Executive Administrative Asst.
Michelle Hull – Office Manager
Gabbi Kelly – Instructional Coach
Sean O’Connell – Food Services Director
Jordan Jennings – Behavior Systems Coordinator VIBES Team
Irasema Huerta – VIBES Team Support
Antnio Maya – IT Technition
Devon Foster – VIBES Team Support
Susie Garcia – Literacy Center Manager
Nancy Tovar – Medford School Counselor
Arlene Buscato – La Clinica Nurse
Masi Tunoa – Middle School
Zoie Sheng – Program Specialist
Tiani Bradford – Specialist
Hannah Washington – Specialist

Katherine Bonsall – Pre-K
Jacqueline Rangel – Pre-K
Alex Warnke-Crary – Kindergarten
Tracy Rude – Kindergarten
Rose Alvarez – Kindergarten
Jasmine Alvarez – 1st Grade
Eduardo Ibarra – 1st Grade
Whitney Hanlin – 2nd grade
Jennifer Shields – 2nd Grade
Karen Cluff – 3rd Grade
Murri Royal-Smith – 3rd Grade
Gina Arellanes – 4th Grade
Megan Foster – 4th Grade
Katie Erickson – 5th Grade
David Thygeson – 5th Grade
Jorge Ramirez – Elementary PE
Jacob Rooks – Elementary PE
Callie McQueen – Special Ed
Teresa LeMay – Special Ed
Bri Johnson – K-8 Music
Adrienne Baraona  – K-8 Art
Travis Roundy – ELD
Yolanda Ortega – ELD
Jacqueline Gonzalez – ELD
Ashlie Moore – Title 1
Emily WC – 6th Grade
Madison Gierloff – 6th Grade
Anita Vanessa Ponce – 7th/8th Science
Cassidy Herick – 7th/8th Language Arts
Orlando De La Cruz – 7th/8th Math
Mike McCollom – 7th/8th Social Studies
Matthew Martin – MS PE/Health

Liliana Cordova – Kindergarten
Joanna Gonzalez – Kindergarten
Crystal Sanchez – Kindergarten
Sonia Garay – 1st Grade
Fatima Munoz – 1st Grade
Angela Medina – 2nd Grade
Charlotte Hreha – 2nd Grade
Sandra Gomez – 3rd Grade
Tasmin Hang – 3rd grade
Mercedes Rojas-Cruz – 4th Grade
Monique Kruse – 4th Grade
Yasil Luviano – 5th Grade
Caroline Gritters – Special Ed
Sara Workman – Special Ed
Lisa Towne – Special Ed
Jessica Plascencia – ELD
David Alvarez – Title 1
Daniela Ibarra – Title 1
Madison Richardson – 6th Grade

Jarrett Davidson  – ELD/Art
Betty Goodson – Afterschool Site Manager
Jennifer Hobbs – Pre-K
Jennie Mangin – Pre-K
Sabrina Gonzalez – Kindergarten
Ricardo Rangel-Botello – Kindergarten
Melinda Koch – 1st Grade
Ms. Denise Detienne – 1st Grade

Leslie Perezchica – Prek-K
Chelsea White – Prek-K
Adilene Sisneros – Prek-K
Karla Alanis – Prek-K
Michelle Beguin – Kindergarten
Crisol Meza – Kindergarten
Zaira Alanis – 1st Grade
Lessly Duran – 1st Grade