Illustration by Bela Messex

Local non-profit organization Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International received a $90,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation.

Based in Santa Cruz, Kidpower serves thousands of children internationally by teaching what it calls “people safety.” On the Kidpower website, executive director Irene van der Zande explains that the goal of the workshops is to relay “what individuals can do to keep themselves and others emotionally and physically safe.”

Since receiving the grant, Kidpower has been conducting a thorough needs assessment project to determine where the funds would be best used. Van der Zande said the money is beginning to have an effect on the organization’s programming, both in the community and online.

“We received the grant a couple of months ago, but we’re just starting to implement it,” she said. “We serve hundreds of people every year in the city of Santa Cruz. We provide a lot of online services for people all over the world.”

General funding for the organization is collected from a combination of class fees, personal donations and gifts from businesses and companies.

Van der Zande said no one is turned down for a lack of funds. Families are expected to give what they can and Kidpower secures grants and donations to supplement the costs.

In an economy where potential donors are facing financial turmoil, the grant will provide vital support to domestic violence prevention programming and for outreach materials.

While money is a serious need for outreach organizations like Kidpower, it is also important to have a passionate team to create change through programming.

“I want the UCSC community to know we are always looking for people to work with as volunteers and instructors,” van der Zande said.

Watsonville chief of police Manny Solano has been on the Kidpower advisory board for 15 years. He said the department’s partnership with the organization has had a positive effect on the community he serves.

Solano “was instrumental in receiving the grant,” van der Zande said.

The Watsonville Police Department is routinely called upon to give a number of presentations in the community, many of which have to do with child safety or how to prevent abduction or sexual assault.

The crime rate in Watsonville has been on the decline. However, violence between partners and family members in the city is a growing problem, Solano said.

“Even though we had the lowest crime rate in Watsonville in 30 years last year, what still seems to be a serious issue is the rise in domestic violence cases,” he said.

Solano said collaboration with Kidpower has improved the effectiveness of the department’s outreach materials.

“A Kidpower trainer brought to my attention that the information that we were not giving out was not the most up-to-date and relevant information,” Solano said. “They wanted to help us. That’s how I became involved — because I wanted to make sure the information we were giving out was good, modern and tested information.”