During the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, Paula Phillips was threatened by a young teen. Instead of running away from such a shocking and devastating experience, Paula saw the pain and cry for help in that child’s eyes, heart, and soul, and immediately dedicated her life to making a difference in children’s lives. Within weeks, she founded The Dream Fund Outreach (renamed Right Road Kids in 2010), and the important work began.
The Dream Fund Outreach (TDFO) grew quickly, as initial word of our very real, grass-roots self-esteem, character, and educational enrichment work spread via a song Paula wrote and recorded in light of her encounter during the Riots. “I Have A Dream” aired on radio stations around the country and became an anthem for uplifting kids — and TDFO’s programs and reach continued to expand.
In TDFO’s “early years,” we simply began helping kids wherever and however possible. We provided funding for after-school enrichment programs, books for children and school libraries, art projects and supplies, musical equipment and lessons, holiday programs for children in need, and the list goes on and on! Immediately Paula had an undeniable bond with youth. She wore her heart on her sleeve and had an amazing talent for inspiring kids through music, stories, educational projects, and everything she undertook. Very quickly, teachers began to ask her to visit their classrooms and inspire their students. We started in South Central Los Angeles and soon were asked to visit Fresno, Bakersfield, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Fort Wayne, Plainfield, Seattle, Estes Park, Oshkosh, Ossippee, and again, the list goes on!
Over the years, Paula began developing a standards-based “whole child” self-esteem/character/educational enrichment curriculum based on her “Cool Right Road Rules.” When asked in 2007 by the cream of the crop teachers and educators from California’s Ventura and Los Angeles Counties to turn her curriculum into DVDs that could reach their students and children around the country on a daily basis, the DVD series RIGHT ROAD FOR KIDS!™ was born! The “dream” Paula and TDFO had for kids everywhere — to feel loved and special and each be uplifted to live their best life and travel their Right Roads — had indeed become a wonderful reality. That is when it became clear that to best reflect our vital mission and work, TDFO would officially be renamed Right Road Kids!
Our wonderful Right Road Kids support base and Volunteer Network continued to grow over the years as well — allowing us to continue to cultivate and expand our program offerings. Through our award-winning classroom programs, assemblies, educational and creative resources, teacher appreciation programs, grants and scholarships, kids-helping-kids projects, school enrichment and enhancement projects, and other successful follow-up programs, children learn that they are special and to believe in themselves. They learn creative skills and find talents they never knew they had. Kids learn to care for each other and the world and give 110% in everything they do. Schools develop a sense of community and caring spirit that is palpable as one walks onto the campus. Teachers, who may feel underpaid and underappreciated, are uplifted in their work. Kids who would not have otherwise, go to college. They learn that their dreams are important and attainable with hard work and dedication, that people care, and that all things are possible! Through Right Road Kids, children’s lives are uplifted and changed.
Since 1992, Right Road Kids has worked directly with nearly 200,000 children in 13 states, in over 150 cities, and in hundreds of schools, churches, and youth organizations. Currently, 90% of our work is with children in public schools, the majority in at-risk neighborhoods. The success of our work is measured through the direct interaction with the kids, through actually seeing the light bulb go on inside of them, through the thousands of heartfelt letters of thanks we receive from children, parents, and teachers each year, through the hugs and smiles. Every day we are blessed to see the benefits of our programs in ways that many share they are not able to see or experience in their lifetimes. And our work has only begun!
In 2013, we officially expanded our mission to provide inspirational and empowering Right Road programs for teachers, parents, and all others who also work so hard daily to uplift kids on the Right Road — because uplifted teachers and parents in turn uplift kids! Our Right Road “Simple Acts of Kindness for Teachers,” “Teacher Wish List,” “Right Road Kindness,” and other outreach and giveaway programs now help, support, uplift, and empower children, teachers, and schools around the country. Coupled with our positive, proactive social media programs and our global “On the Right Road!” radio show hosted by Paula (launched in January 2015), we now reach and impact thousands upon thousands of kids, teachers, schools, and families every week. And, the Right Road scope and reach continue to expand… We will be launching the Right Road “Take 5!” video series of Right Road lessons in the fall of 2015!
We have a vision and are on a mission to see children around the country and throughout the world traveling their Right Roads and succeeding in life, secure in knowing they are each special, loved, talented, and amazing!