An Interview With Madeline Kerner, National Director of Outreach and Development, Peer Health Exchange
As the curriculum in many public high schools becomes more focused, it drives some subjects to the periphery. In 2003, Peer Health Exchange formed to help some schools reintroduce health education to the classroom.
Now based in San Francisco and working with a 2010-2011 annual operating budget of more than $3.4 million, the organization's efforts help educate thousands of high-school students.
Madeline Kerner, PHE's national director of outreach and development, explains more about what the 26 employees — two of whom are strictly devoted to raising funds — enable the organization to accomplish.
FundRaising Success: What's your mission?
Madeline Kerner: Peer Health Exchange gives teenagers the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy decisions. We do this by training college students to teach a comprehensive health curriculum in public high schools that lack health education.
FS: Please tell us a little about the organization's history.
MK: In 1999, six Yale undergraduates began teaching health workshops in New Haven [Conn.] public schools in order to fill the gap left by an underfunded, understaffed district health program. In 2003, the founding members of the group established Peer Health Exchange to replicate this successful program in other communities with unmet health education needs. Since then, approximately 2,500 trained PHE volunteers have taught PHE's health curriculum to more than 25,000 low-income ninth graders in NYC, Boston, Chicago, the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
FS: How do you fund your mission?
MK: We currently raise support for our mission through local and national private funders. The majority of that support is from foundations, with the rest coming primarily from individuals. Corporations make up a relatively small but growing portion of our funding. We are continuing to identify new sources of funding as we plan organizational growth over the next three [to] five years. Our primary focus for the immediate future is on major individual donors. Given our experience raising support from that group to date, we anticipate it being an area of strength for the future.