Champions for children: Nonprofit supports at-risk families in North Florida

Tom Deison, July 30, 2019

In 1972, the late Budd Bell recognized the need for affordable, high quality early learning programs for families with young children in Tallahassee – and that’s when Kids Incorporated of the Big Bend was born.

What began in the basement of First Presbyterian Church serving 25 families with preschool children has evolved over the past four decades, but one constant remains: to best serve a child, we must serve the family.

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“Imagine that you are a single mom with three kids. Two of those children may be school-aged, but you have one child that is one – and you’ve just lost your job,” explains LaFonda Wilson, Executive Director and CEO. “What do you do at that point?”

Kids Incorporated serves as the only community-based organization supporting and educating families with young children through quality early learning, health and family services. The nonprofit organization, today, serves at-risk families with children ages 0-3, as well as pregnant women in Jefferson, Leon and Madison counties.

Each time a family with an infant or toddler, or a pregnant woman, enrolls in one of the programs, Kids Incorporated begins to help shape the lives of that family.

This past year Kids Incorporated served 266 families in the counties they serve, all with the help of Hancock Whitney.

“We chose Hancock Whitney because they are more than a partner in business – they are a partner in the community,” shared LaFonda.

Beyond financial services they receive to keep the organization running, Hancock Whitney also provides support through community initiatives, including Kidsfest. The annual community engagement event features more than 100 hands-on activities for families to do – together – helping to further advance their mission.

Kids Inc Story

With plans to expand services in Leon County, Hancock Whitney’s role in Kids Incorporated’s future is only just beginning.

“We envision our relationship growing even stronger and that Hancock Whitney will be the partner that will work closely with us to ensure the resources are there to serve our community,” shared LaFonda.

By working together, Kids Incorporated and Hancock Whitney can ensure that all children and families have the opportunity to reach their full potential.