Update from our Fall Board Meeting

Last month we had our annual, in-person board meeting. This is a time for our executive board to come together, review our progress, discuss top priorities, and make sure the organization continues to head in the right direction. One of the things that came out of this meeting was a desire to be more communicative about our top priorities and the work we’re doing– hence my writing to you today!

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From left to right: Jason Toff (chair), Brenna O’Sullivan, Kyle Stolarz (VP, Treasurer), Julia Cassisi, Dr. Antoine Yver, Emesha Jackson, Jenni Ross, Lily Ross, Tim Shriver, Soeren Palumbo (secretary), Stephen Green. Not pictured: Briana Hall, Conor Hawes, Craig Snider, Jessica Trief, & Meredith Vieira

So, in the spirit of full transparency, here are a few things going on behind the scenes:

What’s going well

1. Parent & counselor satisfaction

One of the metrics we watch closely as a marker for how well we’re doing is the average overall score from counselors and parents. This summer, we scored 4.77 for counselors and 4.92 for campers (out of 5). We are happy to see such high numbers given our continued growth. Here’s how the scores have trended over the years:

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2. Sustainability

We now have an amazing staff of full-time employees and have a system that enables 10 summer camps to happen annually as well as year-round Adventures and the distribution of hundreds of Congratulations Project letters around the world. And while there’s plenty to improve, we’ve refined our programming year after year to make the most out of every minute and every cent.  Sustainability has been a huge focus for the Board these last few years and we are happy with how far we’ve come.

Where we want to focus more

1. Demographics

Last year we launched our first-ever demographic survey. In the next few months Julia, our Family Coordinator, will be releasing the details we’ve been collecting. PALS’ mission is to create immersive experiences where young adults with Down syndrome and their peers have fun, grow as individuals, and build transformative friendships. This mission applies to everyone and we want to make sure our programs provide a place of acceptance for anyone interested.

2. New initiatives

When PALS started, it was a single summer camp in Philadelphia. We grew year after year as fast as we could before expanding to two sites, then three sites, and (fast forward a few years) to ten sites. Somewhere along the way we added The Congratulations Project, and later Adventures. Given our financial security and improvements to sustainability, we’d like to continue to pursue new initiatives. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please send them our way.

Of course this isn’t a complete list of what’s working or not, but hopefully it gives you an idea of some of the notable topics. If there are particular topics you’re interested in, or if you have feedback on any of the above, please feel free to reach out.

Jason Toff

Chair, PALS Board