Exhale Chapter 1: Yoga Foster and COVID-19

Exhale is my new series at Yoga Foster on navigating the landscape of education and wellness as a nonprofit during COVID-19. In this week’s recap, I’m sharing how we extended our runway and created an entire new product in just a matter of weeks. Thanks for reading and supporting our community! This was originally sent to our entire email list.

How you can help

Subscribe to our YouTube, which is our new studio to support parents and teachers.

Help us raise $5,000 to offset this month’s expenses.

Exhale Chapter 1: Letting Go

COVID-19 came at a precarious time for us. We recently invested in a whole new brand identity (which you’ll see across our website and videos), so our staff costs increased Q1. We also brought on an accounting team to organize our books.

Although we have runway from FY 2019, we were counting on revenue from Q2 2020 to carry us until our holiday fundraising initiatives. Spring usually brings in fresh funding from program sales from schools. Each spring, schools usually invest in resources they want to bring to classrooms in the coming fall. But for obvious reasons, plans there have changed.

We also generate funding from fundraisers we host with yoga studios. Our fundraiser with CorePower Yoga last June raised over $20,000 — more than a month of runway. With yoga studios closed and staff laid off, there’s no roadmap for future fundraisers like these.

Projected Revenue, March 2020: $14,000
Actual Revenue, March 2020: $851.40

School districts have had a chaotic past few weeks — shifting everyone to remote learning from home. There’s a lot of barriers that make this difficult:

  • Many students don’t have adequate internet or technology to work from home.
  • Many more may have a laptop or computer, but because multiple family members are at home, children and parents are sharing one device.
  • Teachers, don’t always have the infrastructure to teach from home
  • Parents are now required to play a more active role in education. Many are still working, which means they can’t be as available

Practices like yoga and mindfulness are usually seen as non-essential in schools. It’s why we’ve committed our work to changing that. Now that schedules are limited and teachers are trying to get the most essential educational content to their students efficiently, it means they have even less time and energy to integrate this content on thier own.

However, students, parents and educators all agree that’s it’s needed more than ever. Students are feeling the stress and anxiety of long days behind screens. Parents are strained to act as teachers. And teachers are overwhelmed with the new burdens of leading remotely. And we are all trying to survive through a global pandemic.

We’ve taken on the work for educators and created dozens of yoga classes and mindfulness practices that teachers can send home.

We created a YouTube channel 30 days ago with yoga and meditations in English and Spanish. Each resource includes a lesson plan with discussion questions and take-home assignments. Our content has received over 6,000 views. Over half the traffic comes from Google Classroom or ClassDojo, two tools that teachers rely on most for remote learning.

Here’s an example of a three-minute guided meditation we’ve created for anger management. The visualization was designed in After Effects by Nicole. The audio was recorded by Brandon, a kids mindfulness teacher who volunteered to record this from home. The content was put together via iMovie with free music from a creator based in Portland. The entire time to create this is roughly three hours.

We’ve uploaded over 50 resources to our YouTube in the past 30 days.

We also launched Yoga Foster at Home, a subscription service for parents, that’s growing slowly.

This allows parents with the means to afford it to subscribe for more content curated for practicing kids yoga and mindfulness at home. It’s a good opportunity for people that enjoy our YouTube content to dive deeper. So far, we’ve generated a few subscribers, but not enough to act as a comprehensive revenue source.

Learn more >

We’ve done all this on 50% capacity while applying for endless stimulus and grants. No luck yet.

Staff Changes

We let go of a staff member and decreased salaries to maximize our cash. We also cut subscriptions to platforms we use regularly. As a founder, it’s heartbreaking to let people go — especially during these tumultuous times. And we need twice as much support to meet demands from schools.

Federal Stimulus

We immediately applied for the economic disaster loan, and have yet to hear a response. We applied for the Payroll Protection Program the day it became available through our bank partner, Chase, but also have not heard a status update.

Grants

We’ve applied for several grant opportunities for nonprofits, nonprofits based in NYC, women-led businesses, women of color led businesses, etc. No grants have been confirmed.

We still have three month’s runway, and we’re not going anywhere.

We’re confident that we’ll weather the storm, and be a stronger, more consistent partner with the schools we’re supporting. In the meantime, we could use your help to get there.

Subscribe to our YouTube, which is our new studio to support parents and teachers.

Help us raise $5,000 to offset this month’s expenses.

Contact me (nicole@yogafoster.org) to make a larger gift towards operations this year.

Over the past three years we’ve been working towards our 2020 Vision: 10,000 classrooms supported by 10,000 donors. In next week’s email, we’ll review how that shifts in this landscape.

Executive Director of Yoga Foster, founder of Reclamation Ventures. Passionate about making wellness accessible for all. Follow me on IG @nicoleacardoza.

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