Friday, December 18, 2009

Reasons to Give: Your support makes a difference

Have you ever heard the story about the boy and his grandfather who were strolling on the beach when the tide was out? They discovered a multitude of starfish drying out in the sun. The Grandfather started throwing starfish back into the sea. The boy protested, "Grandpa! What are you doing? Do you see how many starfish are on the beach? You can't make a dent in the number even if you stood here all day. What your doing doesn't make a difference."

The Grandpa looked at the starfish in his hand and said to the boy, "It makes a difference to this one."

It really can feel that our efforts don't make a difference when we consider the broad list of needs and causes in our world today. So when we give to something we really want to know that it makes a difference for the people the organization serves. We want to know, at least, if the ones we are supporting are getting back into the water, so to speak.

So we want to let you know that DinoMights does make a difference. We can't measure every intangible that makes "Hockey in the Hood" really great, but there are a few important things we can point to as indicators of success.

The mission of DinoMights is to equip our urban youth to develop Physical, Academic, Social and Spiritual Excellence. So let's take a look at each area to see how DinoMights is making a difference.


Playing ice hockey teaches kids many things, and it also helps them to be physically healthy. 32% of US children and teens are overweight or obese. That is a staggering statistic. Meanwhile, there are currently no parks with recreational ice hockey rinks in Phillips, Powderhorn, and Central neighborhoods. Moreover, we hear quite often from parents that they don't feel completely safe about their kids going to the park to play. So DinoMights is providing the opportunity to stay active during the winter for kids in South Minneapolis.

We can point to the success of this effort in several ways. First we do a hockey skills test at the beginning and end of each season. Roughly 90-92% of DinoMights improve their skills on a yearly basis. This shows that participants are getting stronger and improving as athletes. They are bucking the trend of obesity by staying active throughout the winter.

Also, quite a few of our students have been able to play at higher levels. Over 30 DinoMights have participated in High School hockey, which is very competitive in the State of Minnesota. Many more have participated in other high school sports such as Track and Field, Football, and Cross Country.


The high school graduation rate for DinoMights is 85%. That is significantly higher than the Minnesota Department of Education report in 2005 that stated the rate for Minneapolis Public Schools is 55%. Again, that is staggering. A 30% difference is a significant statement in favor of DinoMights' academic success.

We provide tutoring mainly to our youngest students with the intention of getting them to read on grade level by the end of 3rd Grade. Reading on Grade level by the end of 3rd grade is a major predictor of future academic success. We perform yearly reading assessments on the tutoring students both to provide them with level appropriate materials and to see their improvement. Each year in the last decade, 100% of tutoring students have improved one reading grade level or more. In other words, 0% of DinoMights tutoring students have fallen further behind in reading for over 10 years.

Phillips, Central and Powderhorn are on the news far too often for violent acts of crime. In order to stay out of the news urban youth need positive places for peer interaction. One of the most common things students say on their yearly evaluations is that DinoMights helped them make friends.

Recently, one of the original DinoMights got married and he had another original DinoMight as his best man. Our intern Kelsey grew up in DinoMights and it is amazing to hear her perspective on how DinoMights influenced her childhood peer group. She is a junior in college and still spends time with her DinoMights teammates.

In addition, the youth growing up in the program learn the value of service. Each year DinoMights engages in the Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate Program. Our coaches and students teach the first graders at Green Central Elementary and Andersen Elementary how to ice skate. It is a major self-esteem booster for the first graders. Our kids see that and it makes them want to serve more.

15% of our volunteers are former students. Many grown DinoMights have served on the Park Ave. Church Summer Staff. Many more are involved in service careers and service with their churches.

It can be hard to measure spiritual impact. However, the students that have gotten the most out of DinoMights over the years are the ones that have learned that the Gospel, or Good News, to urban kids is a team sport that helps them stay physically healthy, academic support in the face of low performing schools, a great place to make friends, and the knowledge that Jesus loves them.

We don't force any of our students to become Christian. We also don't tell them what church to go to, how to be baptized, or how to take communion. We do however follow the command of God to love thy neighbor as thyself. We also take heed to Jesus' words that the Kingdom belongs to the children.

Many of the students value this part of DinoMights very much. One student put it this way on his yearly evaluation in response to what he values most about DinoMights, "That we beat the stereotype that all hockey players are white and that we do it through Jesus Christ."

In conclusion, your support makes a difference. It allows DinoMights to equip urban youth to develop Physical, Academic, Social and Spiritual Excellence. When you look into the sea of needs and feel that your efforts don't matter, think of the DinoMights youth and know that it matters for these ones.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reasons to Give: There is a lot of need

Jose and Cornelius enjoy a fun moment at Picture Day 2009

One good reason to give to DinoMights is that DinoMights is filling gaps in places where there is a lot of need.

Phillips, Central and Powderhorn are some of the poorest neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. The median household income for Phillips Neighborhood is right about $20,000 There are about 37,000 people combined in the three South Minneapolis, MN neighborhoods served by DinoMights. Almost half of those are children and youth. 70% of the households in our neighborhoods have kids.

Unfortunately, that means that for the kids there is a deficit in resources compared to their greater metro area neighbors. Just think in terms of the opportunity to play a team sport like hockey. For a family to get started they first need to purchase equipment. For just one kid a family could spend anywhere from $500 to $1000 on equipment. By the way if you've learned the secret of a new full set of hockey for only $500 please share with the public.

Donated skates lined up for Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate. Learn 2 Skate will serve 220 inner city youth in 2010.

Imagine you were spending 5% of your income on equipment for just one child. That has not even accounted for the ice time yet, which may be anywhere from $400 to $1200 per child.

So the cost of hockey for much of the Twin Cities metro area could represent 10% of the income for the typical Phillips Neighborhood family!

So we are helping to provide that opportunity at an affordable cost to local families. Hockey is great. Kids can learn a lot from playing on a hockey team. However, as great as hockey is, hockey is just one way that kids can get what need.

There is a lot of need that comes along with poverty, and not all of it is financial. The Search Institute defines developmental assets that kids need in order to succeed. DinoMights is helping to provide many of the assets that low income families in an urban setting have difficulty providing. A few examples include Other Caring Adults, Service to others, Safety, Positive Peer Influence, High Expectations. There are many other assets that DinoMights helps to give youth. Take a look at the whole list for 8-12 year olds here.

Without these needs met kids are likely to perpetuate the cycle of poverty. They are likely to drop out (about 45% of MPS students drop out). They are likely to come to believe that this world doesn't care about them. And the world is likely to miss out on the joy and beauty they can actually contribute.

So please consider supporting DinoMights financially this year end, because there is a lot of need. DinoMights is helping to meet those needs so that kids can succeed as adults and share their gifts with the world.

If you would like to give to DinoMights please use the widget on the right side of the screen or visit our online donation page.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reasons to Give

I once heard in a fundraising seminar that the number one reason people give to a non-profit organization is because they are asked. I guess that makes sense. In order to give to something you at least need to know that something or someone needs your help. So for the next few days I'll be writing about Reasons to give to DinoMights this Holiday Season.

Up front, if the number one reason people give is because they are asked, then I would like to humbly ask for your support of Hockey in the Hood. Now, I know that money is a sensitive topic, and things are tight for many Americans right now. However, DinoMights is a reputable 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit Organization and we do rely on the kindness of financial givers in order to continue the work we do on the South side of Minneapolis.

We do need your help. Our budget for 2009 is $158,000. What a bargain! We served about 250 kids in 2009 from low income neighborhoods with Ice Hockey, Summer Camps, Tutoring, Community Service, Technology classes, Learn 2 Skate Programs, and Faith Based Love at a budgeted cost of about $158,000.

The funds to support DinoMights come from a variety of sources, which can be put into three main categories: Individual Givers, Grants, and Corporate Giving. Individual givers are everyday people that believe in what DinoMights stands for and believes that DinoMights is doing a good job. Grants come from foundations and major corporations that have set aside funds to give to causes they believe in. Typically grants require an application process and sometimes a site visit, because the Foundations want to make sure that they are giving to worthy causes. We're pleased to be supported by some wonderful foundations that truly hold us accountable for the work we're doing. The list includes The National Hockey League, The McKnight Foundation and The General Mills Foundation among others. Visit our partners page to see more. Finally, corporate giving includes free will gifts from business as well as sponsorship of our annual fundraising event.

Right now we are about $20,000 from our year end financial goal. It may sound like a lot, but most of our individual giving happens in December. Of course, $20,000 is nothing to sneeze at. However, if people who see the need decide to give their support this is a very achievable goal.
If you would like to give to DinoMights this holiday season you can do so by clicking on the widget on the right of the screen. You may also visit our online giving page by clicking the link. All gifts are tax-deductible.

If you are in a position to make a major donation in the amount of $10,000, $5,000, or $2,500, and you think this is a worthy cause we would love your support! If you would like to contact me with any questions at all, please feel free.

If you want to make sure that you have Good Reasons to Give, stay tuned this week. I'll be writing about a variety of Good Reasons to support DinoMights in 2009!

Monday, December 14, 2009


A student and tutor prepare for graduation: 2018

“Why are you doing this? I’m gonna be in so much trouble.”

Those are the words of a DinoMights high school student when confronted with the reality of a meeting between his school counselor, his parents and DinoMights staff/tutors. I thought, but didn’t say out loud (mainly because I wasn’t the one on the phone at the time), “You’re already in trouble. In fact, you need to get in trouble right now. What’s going to happen if you don’t get in trouble right now?”

He’s not doing well in school, but he is rather intelligent. Thus, it is easy for him to rationalize away the work and gain the trust of adults so that they believe it is really a minor problem. But, it’s not a minor problem.

Over the fifteen-year history of DinoMights, 85% of our participants have graduated from high school. That’s a big number compared to the 55% of Minneapolis Public School students that graduate according to the Minnesota Department of Education (2005). Now consider the lifetime economic realities for non-high school graduates. According to a recent Minneapolis Star Tribune Article, “Mixed reviews for state’s graduation rates”, by James Walsh (June 12, 2007) less than 10% of non-high school graduates earn more than $35,672 annually and most of those are concentrated in the lowest earning bracket with a median income of just $12,638. That is not a living wage for the 58% of African American and 36% of Asian students that do not graduate high school in Minnesota. Talk about trouble.

Here’s a quote regarding another teen from history with whom many of us are familiar, “Mary was greatly troubled by his words . . .” The quote comes from the Bible in the book of Luke. This is how the Christmas story starts . . . with trouble. Mary, the future mother of Jesus, is faced with the prospect of being an unwed teen mother in a culture where she could be disowned by her family or thrown down a well for being pregnant. Talk about trouble.

Let’s face it, many of us are in trouble right now. Someone reading this letter is out of a job, losing money on their home, or dipping into retirement funds to get by. We have a supporter who is having housing problems, a board member with health problems, and a volunteer who has had several adoptions fall through. Is it going to be like this forever? Is Christmas really for those of us in trouble?

The boy didn’t want to be in that meeting, but he had to be there. He had to hear that this trouble was for his benefit. He had to hear that this trouble was for the benefit of his family and friends as well. For if he is able to overcome this moment then he will be able to share his talents and gifts with the world. His dad said to him, “you may be upset now, but one day you will look back on this moment and thank God.”

The girl, Mary, too had to face this trouble, and she embraced it as the Lord’s servant. For the trouble of Christmas resulted in a Savior to the world. We all needed for her to have that trouble at just that time, because Christmas really is for those in trouble.

This Christmas season please help DinoMights to continue sharing both the lives of those in trouble as well as celebrating with so many who have overcome trouble. Please consider making a year-end gift to help DinoMights achieve its year-end goals. Although times are tough we still have hope that we can raise $20,000 this December. Gifts of all shapes and sizes are welcome to help this effort from the smallest to the largest. We are certain we can make this goal if in addition to the many generous gifts we receive, there are 4 givers able to make a gift of $2,500, 2 at $5,000, or 1 at $10,000 or more. You may give by using the widget on the right side of this blog or by visiting our online giving page on Finally, we are certain that troubled times won’t last forever, for the one who is Savior forever has overcome much trouble.