Category Archives: Admin

New Year, New Sustainability Strategy

First, a peaceful, satisfying and productive 2013 to all!

And then: We realize we have been remiss in posting to this blog in recent months, but we have a good reason. It’s rooted in sustainability.

Like many nonprofits, we struggle to raise the funds to continue our work. This is doubly difficult for the Asynchronous Scholars’ Fund because we are a startup organization, and we seek to raise substantial enough funds to permit us to extend our work beyond our PSA and online advocacy to include direct aid to asynchronous kids and their families, starting in California, but eventually a national model. Launching that part of our program requires substantial funds because we need to do outreach to school districts and homeschool groups alike to find the families most struggling to meet the intense needs of their kids, and to do so fairly and transparently.

Many nonprofits start with seed funding. Seed funding is the starting investment, usually from the founder or a single donor, that’s large enough to launch the program and keep it going for a few years until staff can begin development efforts, including ongoing fundraising. Our startup funds were extraordinarily modest, limiting the Fund’s initial program to advocacy alone. The funds our generous donors contributed allowed us to continue that advocacy work for almost two years, and we have reached thousands of people with that advocacy. We cannot thank our donors enough. (Thank you, again!)

But we are nothing if not divergent, like the kids we seek to aid. We started to pursue more serious seed funding, and realized that we would rather generate the source of our own core funding, launch our direct aid program to prove its impact, and then seek more substantial donations based on those successes.

This brings us back to sustainability. One of the most successful nonprofit sustainability strategies is to set aside funds to create an endowment, the income from which provides sufficient income to sustain the core program and operations of the organization. Another strategy includes for-profit endeavors that generate profit that is donated to the charitable arm, including earned income and social enterprises. The Asynchronous Scholars’ Fund holds as a goal the creation of an endowment, but the second strategy is more appealing because if done correctly, it holds the promise of generating enough funding to allow both full program development and the creation of an endowment.

Our target audience includes a great many homeschoolers, because many families with seriously asynchronous children turn to homeschooling out of desperation when they find that the school system really won’t fit their kids, or vice versa. Homeschoolers have long been viewed as a fringe group, but it’s becoming more common than ever (at least since the spread of compulsory education in the United States a century ago), especially among those with asynchronous children. Homeschoolers tend to excel at creating tools to serve their needs, like using Excel to track their kids’ educational progress, or creating templates that other homeschooling families can purchase to do the same. But with respect to those who have created tools this audience can use, many of the tools that exist are too limited. And we think that education-tracking tools that would truly meet the needs of asynchronous homeschoolers, would also have a natural audience in the population at large. We’d like to create those tools.

And thus, in honor of asynchronous homeschoolers, the Fund’s board of directors agreed that the Fund should continue our advocacy activities, but delay our other fundraising efforts while our founder builds a for-profit startup edtech company that creates just that set of tools. A portion of the profits from the startup will be dedicated to funding the Asynchronous Scholars’ Fund.

Building an edtech startup while maintaining a small (but ambitious) charitable organization is no easy task, and we hope you’ll forgive us for letting this blog languish in the process. We expect to return to more frequent, if briefer, posts in the new year. In the meantime, we hope you’re off to an excellent start to the year of the post-Mayan-apocolypse-that-wasn’t. We’d love to continue to hear from you with your own successes and challenges with asynchronous kids, and we promise in turn to continue our advocacy, helping people better understand how challenging it is to be a kid who is many ages at once.

Advertisements

How We Will Change the World in 2012

Inspired (belatedly!) by Craig Newmark’s “How Will You Change the World in 2012″ post on craigconnects, we want to share our plans for changing the world in 2012.

But first, the setting:

With all the progress made in many places over past decades as regards helping children with disabilities, children in need, improving education, and the like, most people would think that there isn’t a group of kids who aren’t being helped. It seems like we’re helping kids more than ever before.

But there is one group of children who don’t. Worse yet, these children are very nearly universally scorned, ignored, and even actively hindered because of their very nature. These kids are intense. They have intense needs. They’re extremely misunderstood.

Because of the way these kids are treated, they don’t learn like they should — not just content, but also good work habits, persistence, and trust. These kids constitute as much as twenty percent of all high-school dropouts. Few, if any, reach their potential.

Emotionally, many end up angry, bewildered, stressed, scared, disillusioned, despondent, even clinically depressed at ages as young as 3 or 4. (Yes, you read that right.) This kind of emotional trauma leads directly to severe physical health problems: blinding headaches, nausea, stomach aches, even ulcers. (Again, yes, you read that right. Stress-generated ulcers in small children.)

Socially, many such children founder, because they’re not placed with peers, and have little to nothing in common with those they are placed with. By adulthood, years or decades of this kind of treatment, lack of support, and even vilification by their very own teachers take severe tolls on health, social adjustment, work performance, and families.

Who are these kids, and why is society persisting in doing this to them?

Before I tell you, i’d like you to take a moment and scan your emotions. Do you feel sympathy for these kids? Now I’ll tell you who they are, and check again… still feel sympathy?

They’re gifted. Highly, exceptionally, and profoundly gifted.

I’m willing to bet you are now kind of annoyed. If they’re gifted, they don’t need help, right?

Wrong.

Here’s how we are going to change the world in 2012:

1. We are going to work to spread awareness of the extremely intense educational, social and emotional needs these children have. To help people understand that what they believe about gifted kids is 99% wrong. (The one thing that’s right? They’re smart! But that’s the source of many problems for these kids, instead of being a source of solutions.)

And we’re going to not call these kids “gifted,” because too many people have the wrong understanding of what that means. We’ll call them a more accurate word: Asynchronous.

2. We will continue to raise funds to launch a program to help asynchronous children in need by providing their families with aid for assessments for identification, advocacy, and educational support; supplies, books, and materials; and tutors, counseling, and the like. Our program is based on the real-life, proven effective approach thousands of families have used across this country for decades. Research on meeting the needs of such asynchronous children unanimously supports our approach, despite public misconceptions (and ironically, the misconceptions of teachers and administrators).

By doing these two things, we expect to help a generation of unusual and exceptional children and families, starting in California but as a model for the rest of the nation. We expect to help them grow up knowing what it is to be educationally challenged; to have good work habits and persistence; to reach their educational (and life) potential; and to have a chance to be as well adjusted socially and emotionally as possible.

These are things we wish for any child. Asynchronous children deserve the same.

Bring it on, 2012!

Proud to be a 501c3 nonprofit

The Fund received confirmation from the Internal Revenue Service today that our tax-exempt, charitable status has been approved. We’re thrilled!

To honor the moment, we thought we’d share a few thoughts about all the work this involved. In the past year or so, here are the major tasks we’ve undertaken:

  • Draft business plan, incl feasibility/competitive analysis. budget, registration timeline, fundraising plan
  • Reserve domain & build website
  • Recruit board members
  • Draft articles of incorporation & bylaws
  • File articles of incorporation with state
  • Prepare registration paperwork (including Statement of Information w/in 90 days of filing articles of incorporation)
  • Set up calendar – file Statement of Information w/ Sec of State of CA every 2 yrs, tax filings, etc.
  • Build advisory board
  • Draft Conflict of Interest policy
  • When Articles of Incorporation are approved, file with Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts
  • Apply for EIN
  • Get a PO box
  • Open bank account
  • File for tax exemption with IRS
Some of this may not be necessary to a new nonprofit, or at least not at these early stages. The PO box, advisory board, website, all could have waited, for example. But we wanted to build the Fund right — as wisely as we could, building on our collective experience in the nonprofit (and business) world. The work was more tedious and tiring than hard. State laws vary, so we had to seek information on California’s specific requirements, and we drew heavily on the advice offered at Citizen Media Law Project (thank you, good folk!) in particular.
We’ve got a great deal more work ahead of us, but we’re proud to have made it this far. Thank you for your interest and support!

Join Us!

We’re excited to be on Facebook (new!) and Twitter. (Like us! Follow us!) We’re also heading into the end of the year with a shiny new “Donate” button.

You can make a difference! Support the creativity, persistence and intellectual well-being of asynchronous scholars in need. By helping us provide in-depth learning resources, assessment, and educational advocacy for these children, you are helping to create a dramatically increased, more diverse pool of innovators, leaders, and non-linear thinkers to work on the world’s most intractable challenges, thanks to equal access to appropriate educational resources and support in childhood. Donate today. And thank you!

Uniquely Promising Learners

Two young children from above, pointing at tidal poolThe Asynchronous Scholars’ Fund is a startup nonprofit organization that will support the creativity, persistence and intellectual well-being of asynchronous scholars in need by providing grants for in-depth learning resources, assessment, and educational advocacy. The Fund will focus its efforts in the state of California.

The Fund is in the process of filing its paperwork to become a nonprofit corporation, and to request 501c3 nonprofit status from the IRS. We seek startup funding for the first year of intensive program design and the program’s launch. Once 501c3 status is approved, all donations to the Fund will be tax-deductible under US law.

Help us create a dramatically increased, more diverse pool of innovators, leaders, and non-linear thinkers. Contact us for more information or to support the Fund through a donation.

This website is under development. Please check back frequently for updates!