On October 27, All Our Kin’s co-founders and directors, Jessica Sager and Janna Wagner, were honored as the Grand Prize recipients of the second annual Roslyn S. Jaffe Awards at a ceremony in New York City. Drawing a crowd of over 650 guests, the ceremony shone a spotlight on the transformative impact All Our Kin and two runners-up, Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program and VolunTEEN Nation, have on the lives of women and children.
Emcee Soledad O’Brien opened the event, paying tribute to Roslyn Jaffe and her lifelong philosophy: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Mrs. Jaffe co-founded the first Dressbarn in Stamford, Connecticut during the 1960s, after recognizing a need for working women to have access to affordable, professional attire. Her leadership and skills as an entrepreneur not only led to Dressbarn’s success but also the creation of the Ascena Retail Group, Inc., which is among the leading women’s clothing retailers in the country today.
Since Dressbarn’s beginnings, the Jaffe family has demonstrated a deep and lasting dedication to their employees and communities. Establishing associate recognition programs and investing in the areas surrounding their retail stores, the family has a long track record of local philanthropy. The Roslyn S. Jaffe Awards, launched in 2014, takes the Jaffe family’s giving to the national level. The program expands opportunities for everyday heroes, who are creating change for women and children in the areas of health, education, social reform, and esteem. This year, the Awards Committee considered over 2,000 applications from changemakers across the country.
All Our Kin’s mission to expand child care quality and accessibility in low-income communities gained recognition for its transformative impact on the lives of women and children, earning All Our Kin the Grand Prize. Mrs. Jaffe introduced All Our Kin at the ceremony, describing how the organization embodies the innovative, resilient spirit of the award. Fifteen years ago, co-founders Janna and Jessica recognized a tremendous need for high-quality, affordable child care and turned to a vastly overlooked asset: women in low-income communities who are committed to giving young children high-quality learning experiences in home-based settings. Since then, All Our Kin has invested in these caregivers, equipping them with the training, resources, and support they need to excel as early childhood educators and entrepreneurs. As a result, family child care providers, children, and families build foundations for success.
Following Mrs. Jaffe’s introduction, a video showcasing All Our Kin, created by the Roslyn S. Jaffe Awards program, gave guests a window into All Our Kin’s impact within communities (to view the video, please click here). Mrs. Jaffe then presented the Grand Prize to Jessica and Janna, who explained how the award, a grant of $100,000, will enable All Our Kin to serve an ever greater number of providers, children, and families:
“Now, with your support, All Our Kin can ensure that no mom will have to walk out the door in the morning with the anguish of leaving her child somewhere that’s dirty, that’s unsafe, that’s not teaching them what they need. No child will miss out on the early learning experiences that she needs to be successful. And no caregiver will have to struggle to pay her light bills, while doing some of the most important work in our society. Right now, All Our Kin is reaching about 2,400 children, but we believe that with the support of this award, the Jaffe family, and everyone here today, we’re going to reach 10,000 children by the year 2021.”
Mrs. Jaffe’s daughter Elise Jaffe, Executive Sponsor for Ascena Cares, and granddaughter Laurel Jaffe presented awards to the runners-up. Chicago-based Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program, founded by Kelly Fair, builds low-income, inner-city girls’ confidence and communication skills, laying the foundation for their personal and professional success. VolunTEEN Nation, founded by then adolescent Simone Bernstein, connects young people with local volunteer opportunities, resources, and grants, allowing them to gain new skills and experiences, and create change within their communities.
The ceremony gave Jessica and Janna an extraordinary opportunity to highlight the work of All Our Kin’s family child care providers, and the critical role that they play in helping children and families to succeed. Thank you, Mrs. Jaffe and the Roslyn S. Jaffe Awards Program, for this remarkable honor.
Author: Nicole Allman