As this year draws to a close, I’d like to take a few minutes to reflect on what we have accomplished during these difficult times. Through it all, I have a deep sense of gratitude for the myriad ways CASA/GAL staff and volunteers have demonstrated resilience, creativity and determination to continue the important work of serving children and families. It bears repeating that you all have risen to the challenge with each and every new obstacle, and I cannot thank you enough. You have made a heavy year lighter for the thousands of children and families being served by CASA/GAL volunteers. Though we have had many challenges this year, it’s important to pause and reflect on some of our accomplishments:
National CASA/GAL provided guidance and support by offering member programs the opportunity to apply for financial support and emergency grants in response to the immediate impact COVID-19 had on the network’s in-person training, meetings and program operations. We distributed more than $300,000 in funding to the CASA/GAL network through emergency grants, personal protective equipment (PPE) grants and technology grants.
An adjustment to our pre-service volunteer training, combined with webinar trainings for the CASA/GAL network, led to 3,694 staff and 5,246 volunteers receiving training during the pandemic.
This summer, we launched a network-wide book club in which staff and volunteers engage in facilitated dialogue on a series of readings. The first series of the book club focusing on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), led to thoughtful small group dialogues and virtual discussions with renowned authors, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and Richard Rothstein.
National CASA/GAL successfully hosted our first virtual conference in October. The event had record attendance, with 2,374 CASA/GAL staff and volunteers joining our plenary and learning sessions, “Reconnect & Recharge” workshops and Awards of Excellence Ceremony. Though we would have preferred to see you all in person, the virtual experience allowed participants to connect and engage, many attending our conference for the first time.
The 2020 Standards for Local CASA/GAL Programs were completed and approved. Through this collaborative effort, engaging our six Leadership Councils and members of the network at large, feedback that strengthened and improved the draft was incorporated into the standards. Thanks to all of you who gave your time and leadership on revising these standards.
National CASA/GAL provided more than 250 pass-through grants, totaling over $4.8 million to state organizations and local programs in 44 states and the District of Columbia. These grants were awarded in several categories, including growth, development, mentoring, state branding and professional development.
We continued to build relationships and corporate sponsorship opportunities to enhance our ability to reach more volunteers, more children and more communities than ever before.
Our Change a Child’s Story™ marketing campaign continued to increase public awareness of our mission and build the reputation of the brand, with state organizations receiving branding grants to implement the campaign locally.
CASA and GAL programs gained national media attention by being featured in The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s 2020 Holiday Impact Prize guide, encouraging individuals to volunteer with a local CASA/GAL program.
Thank you for working alongside us to carry out these initiatives and for engaging with us in these activities. The year ahead still holds some uncertainty, but it also brings a sense of hope for good things to come. It will be critical for us to continue to be nimble in our planning as we adapt to changing circumstances, and to remain focused on our mission. As we continue with our strategic planning process in the year ahead, I look forward to continued network engagement, and to hearing your perspectives about opportunities and issues facing the CASA/GAL network. The strength of our national network benefits us all, and I am grateful for the role you play in pursuing our collective goals.
I hope you are having a wonderful and safe holiday season. Thank you again for working together this year to positively impact the lives of children and families.
Tara Lisa Perry
Chief Executive Officer