MAKING A DIFFERENCE
By Darlene Donloe
About six years ago, Jade Marlin was preparing to start a baseball sports academy foundation for kids, but upon further research, found out kids in kindergarten through sixth grade were failing in reading.
He immediately shifted his plans.
“I said, ‘Let me forget this sports foundation,’” said Marlin, who played minor league baseball for the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2006 to 2009. “It was then I began to create an education program instead. I wanted to give back to the urban community with education. I decided I wanted to help kids read.”
In 2017, Marlin, 36, started Jade Love Kids Foundation because he understood that children needed to be positioned for success.
The Jade Love Kids Foundation, headquartered in Pasadena, with divisions in Sacramento and Pomona, is a nonprofit organization providing children with free educational programs and extracurricular activities to help them “become the greatest versions of themselves.”
“I like it being free,” Marlin said. “I like giving back. If it’s free, everyone can participate because everyone will be accepted.”
The organization’s mission is to help kids and teens, ages 5 to 18, by building the necessary competencies that will help them develop leadership skills, a sense of self worth, and the ability to cooperate with others.
Marlin, the founder, and CEO, said the foundation also works with children with disabilities to improve their skills in overcoming obstacles and believing that they can be successful in life.
He said the same program works for all students, including children with disabilities.
“It’s just a different teaching format,” Marlin said. “We accept all children. Some have cancer. We work with the Shriners for Children Medical Center. Some of the kids are in wheelchairs, some have one arm, or they can have a mental illness. It doesn’t matter to us. We offer the same program. There is just a different structure. What we do is give them extra love.”
The foundation’s programs are designed to help kids succeed in reading, math, art, and African-American history. In 2021, Marlin said the program will expand to include leadership skills. He hopes to also add a college-prep program.
Students are introduced to the world of art with basic art techniques, which are the building blocks that will provide a solid foundation for future art lovers and artists. Students go over age-appropriate vocabulary, guided drawings and storytelling through art. They also explore a variety of artists and materials such as drawing and painting. Art supplies are provided and mailed to the students.
Students participate in classes designed to boost their confidence and skills in math. Assessments are given to identify and address challenges. The student-to-teacher ratio in classes is very low, allowing opportunities for individualized instruction and attention. Students receive homework help and tutoring to ensure they are actively learning and sharpening their skills.
Marlin decided to add African-American history to the program because he found out the kids were not being taught about African-American culture.
The African-American history course introduces students to the concept of analyzing historical issues in African-American history and how Black Americans worked towards creating their own history in America. Emphasis is placed on the African-American experience, the development of African-American community institutions, and African-American participation in, and impact on, American society and global society.
“They don’t teach African-American history the way it should be taught in schools,” said Marlin who grew up in Riverside. “We go deeper. African Americans have a rich history. I wanted to teach them about our great people. This is our country. Kids think white people created all of this stuff. The program is intense. We have awesome teachers and professors.”
Helping kids build the necessary competencies that will help them develop leadership skills, a sense of self worth, and the ability to cooperate with others, is essential according to Marlin.
“You need leadership skills to succeed,” he said. “It motivates the child. It’s about positivity. Show them how to communicate as a leader. We want them to be motivated and to be a creative person. The new leadership program is going to be exciting.”
Two years ago, the Jade Love Kids Foundation became an online program.
“We partnered with Zoom,” Marlin said. “We originally started off in person as a summer program that went from June to August. It started small. Then it grew. In person was not working. We now have 400 kids in the program online.”
The children who participate in the program come from South Los Angeles, Compton, downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena, Ontario, Inglewood and the San Fernando Valley.
The Jade Love Kids Foundation also partners with both the Pomona and the Pasadena school districts.
“One of the main keys is getting the school districts involved,” Marlin said. “That’s vital.”
Registration for the next four-month session starts Jan. 3, with classes running Feb. 8-June 2. The program takes place from 3 to 8 p.m daily.
Since starting Jade Love Kids Foundation, Marlin said he has become inspired and motivated himself.
“It has motivated me to help children even more,” he said. “They are our future. This is like a blessing from God. I say, ‘Thank you Lord’ for allowing me to keep spreading that Jade Love.”
“Making a Difference” is a weekly feature profiling organizations that are serving their communities. To propose a “Making a Difference” profile, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Darlene Donloe is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at email@example.com.