About Promise the Children
Promise the Children is a nonprofit 501(c)(3)organization. We work together with families and child advocates to support a strong start for all U.S. children, as well as access to health care and adequate nutrition.
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee initiated Promise the Children in 1997 with an early focus on increasing preschool programs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We hired one part-time organizer and recruited volunteer advocates at Unitarian Universalist churches and events. Today we recruit volunteers of many faiths, or of no faith.
The inspiration for Promise the Children came from The Children’s Defense Fund’s March For Children’s Education held in Washington D.C. in 1996. After 2000, we campaigned for preschool in Massachusetts with other organizations, including Parents United for Child Care in Boston, and the Early Education for All Campaign (Strategies for Children). As a result, there are more subsidized early education spots in our pre-schools, and we have a MA Department of Early Education and Care to promote quality teachers and programming.
In 2006, we became a nationally oriented 501 (c) 3 educational charity called Promise the Children, Inc. Later, we developed a Circle of Protection Campaign addressing the importance of funding for programs that would protect young children living in poverty. More recently we have been informing church members about the number of families with children who live in poverty and who regularly experience homelessness.
In 2014 we narrowed our focus to advocate for better funding for universal early education and child care for all, especially low-income families, and providing information on nutrition and improved access to health care for young children. Today, we are supporting the healthy development of children from birth through 3rd grade. We are working to develop our online marketing and to promote social media strategies to support this goal.
Our Board of Directors
Mary Ann Hayes (Lynn, MA), is a retired teacher with over 30 years of experience with early childhood education. Most recently she is an active member of the Social Justice Ministry Team at the UU Church of Greater Lynn.
Joshua Leach (Cambridge MA) is starting his career in UU ministry. As a ministerial intern for Promise the Children, he developed our presentation on the 50-year legacy for children of the War on Poverty, and on the impact poverty still has on kids in America today. He also spoke to many UU congregations around the Boston area, led a worship service in Salem MA on Promise the Children’s work, and talked about children’s poverty at a breakfast at UU General Assembly in June of 2014.
Donna McLain (Longview, WA) has been working with Promise the Children since the program began. A highlight for her was traveling to Washington D.C. for the “Stand for Children” Rally heldJune 1, 1996. Donna is a Mills College graduate, with an MS in Business from Antioch University (Seattle), and a K-12 Teaching Credential from WSU. She retired from the Boeing Company after 27 years, and currently substitute teaches in Kelso and Longview School Districts. A lifelong UU, she is currently serving on the UUCV Board of Trustees.
Nicole Simonson (Swampscott, MA) Nicole is a social worker, specializing in school social work with elementary and preschool age children. She is a proud mama of two energetic little boys. Her experiences as both a social worker and mother sparked her desire to advocate for and on behalf of children and their wellbeing with a special interest in their social emotional health and that of families as well.
Natasha Megie Maddrey (Lynn, MA) Treasurer. Natasha has engaged in grass routes organizing of parents who are raising their children for many years. She is interested in campaigning for an elected position on the School Board in Lynn MA. She is working to ensure that all children have an excellent education. She supports parents as advocates, for the best education possible.
Rebekah Richardson (Nahant, MA), President. Rebekah actively manages the Promise the Children Website and writes the “News”. She earned her masters degree in Community Organization from Boston College. She was hired by the UU Service Committee to work on a stipend for Promise the Children, but she has worked as a volunteer for the last seventeen years recruiting volunteer advocates and speaking at numerous churches and church events. During this time she has served on the boards of many non-profit organizations that support families living in poverty.
Our staff is almost entirely volunteers, currently headed by Board Member Rebekah Richardson. Please contact me if you would like to help in our mission to support children under 8 years from low-waged US families, or learn more about how you can get involved.
Shannon Falvey (Boston, MA) is our part-time Communications Director. She is a self-employed marketing strategist with clients in Boston and San Francisco. Shannon has a Master’s degree in communication and has designed comprehensive marketing strategies that have resulted in significant growth and the acquisition of her most recent startup. Shannon was raised in Lynn and previously interned for Mayor Thomas M. McGee when he served in the Massachusetts State Senate.
Gabriella Costa is filling in part-time as Communications Director as Shannon welcomes her brand new baby. Gabriella has years of experience in marketing, graphic design, and communications for nonprofits. She also works full-time as Marketing and Communications Director at Jett Foundation, a nonprofit empowering families while fighting Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Prior to her work at Jett Foundation, she worked in a similar capacity at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston. In her free time, she runs a graphic design, stationery, and family photography company, Design by Gabriella.