Bears Who Care Incorporated
7809 Iceland Gull Street
Winter Garden FL 34787
Contact Information
Address 7809 Iceland Gull Street
Winter Garden, FL 34787
Phone (407) 451-6441
Web and Social Media
Video
Co-Founder, Kari Schmitz, reads to an eager group of children participating in the Head Start program.
Mission
Mission Bears Who Care brings comfort and engages the imaginations of ill and disadvantaged children during times of need through teddy bears and books. We inspire them to read, use their imaginations and create happy memories for years to come.
Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Tad J Schmitz
Board Chair Tad J Schmitz
Board Chair Company Affiliation Universal Orlando Resort
History
IRS Ruling Year 2009
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expense Bar Graph
 
 
Projected Revenue $10,000.00
Projected Expenses $20,000.00
Statements
Mission Bears Who Care brings comfort and engages the imaginations of ill and disadvantaged children during times of need through teddy bears and books. We inspire them to read, use their imaginations and create happy memories for years to come.
Impact
Bears Who Care provides teddy bears and books to children (ages 1-12) who are either ill or disadvantaged. We lift their spirits and encourage reading not only during their time of need, but also in the future when they need comfort or encouragement.  These ongoing efforts also bring support to parents, as reading gives them a way to stay connected to their children.
Since our organization was founded in 2009, we have distributed 9400 teddy bears and books to children, and distributions are our primary focus every year.  Our goal is to double the amount we donate every year, which has been successfully achieved so far.  We have also raised approx. $85,000 (as of 12/31/16) since our organization was founded, which we need to raise annually in order to pay for teddy bears and books.
Independent Research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or program effectiveness? Under Development
Needs

The most pressing monetary need is to secure the funds needed to purchase teddy bears and books to be distributed to the children in need.  It costs approximately $8 to give a teddy bear and book to each child.  We expect to be able to raise $20,000+ every other year (at a minimum), which will help insure that we will distribute a minimum of 5000 teddy bears and books in 2017 and 2018 and move us toward our five year plan and beyond.  In addition to money, any donations of new teddy bears or new books (targeted to children ages 1-14) can be immediately distributed.

Background Bears Who Care helps to address literacy by promoting reading among children and their parents (especially for those young children who are unable to read yet.)  Children are also surrounded in comfort when they need it most – when they are ill or need to feel support.  Through the love and companionship that teddy bears and books bring, the recipients of Bears Who Care can heal faster and feel temporary relief from pain from sickness or a debilitating experience.
CEO Statement

With Bears Who Care, our wish is to establish a powerful connection between reading and caring, which will benefit those in a true time of need and leave a legacy of reading and literacy for future generations.  Although other organizations offer either books or teddy bears, to combine both is a unique way to bring immediate and lasting comfort plus inspire an affinity for reading - a skill that is critical to all people.

The inspiration for Bears Who Care was founded by my wife and me in 2009, and we were motivated to bring a charity to life by some truly memorable family members.

The books are inspired by Kari’s parents, Jon and Nancy Kron, who were dedicated and well-respected teachers with a lifelong passion for reading. Nancy, in particular, was a remedial reading teacher who spent most of her life helping children who had difficulty learning to read.

Ted Schmitz, my grandfather, was a loving and wise man, whose spirit and name is the foundation for the teddy bear.

Tad Schmitz, Co-Founder & CEO
Board Chair Statement

When my husband and I started Bears Who Care, we knew that it would take time to grow our organization and have reasonable goals in mind.  In our first year, we gave 50 teddy bears and books, but since then, we have been able to at least double the distribution amount every year.  Our success is based not only on volunteer support, but also from the amount of teddy bears and books we obtain through retailers and private donors.  Unfortunately, the organizations don’t provide product on a consistent basis, so the goal is to raise enough funds (starting in 2013) to produce a custom teddy bear and purchase books.  Because the children to whom we donate are a variety of ages, several types of books are needed. 

When we started this charity, we didn’t realize that we wouldn’t have much interaction with the children themselves.  Hospitals in particular maintain a sterile environment and protect privacy, so when we have a rare opportunity to meet young patients and their parents, it’s an impactful experience.  Giving them just one teddy bear and one book and seeing the joy on their faces fills your heart in so many ways. 

As we continue to grow and become more visible, more organizations are proactively seeking our support and enabling us to diversify our distributions and the variety of children we reach.  We are excited about the future of Bears Who Care and hope to bring our concept to locations around the U.S. (and beyond).

Kari Kron Schmitz, Co-Founder & President
NTEE Information
Primary Organization Type Education
Primary Organization SubType Educational Services
Secondary Organization Type Human Services
Secondary Organiztion SubType Family Services
Areas Served
Geographic Areas Served
In a specific U.S. city, cities, state(s) and/or region.
Central Florida Area
Goals
HelpWhat is the organization aiming to accomplish? This is the organization's ultimate goal for intended impact.
Bears Who Care is an organization that has unlimited growth potential and is a simple model to expand.  Our ultimate goal is to reach children all over the U.S. and even internationally because there is a universal need for those who are disadvantaged to be uplifted, comforted and most importantly, to be inspired by reading.  Reading aloud to children is the single most important activity for preventing low literacy, and research shows that young children who are exposed to language through books tend to do better in school. 
Although we readily accept the generosity of manufacturers and private donors to provide teddy bears and books (plus cash donations), we do produce an official Bears Who Care teddy bear and purchase an ongoing supply of books for a variety of ages.  We have been producing our own bear since 2014 and plan to introduce an official storybook by the end of 2017.  Those initiatives will be done through fundraising efforts (an annual event or campaign).  Also, our organization will remain as a 100% volunteer operation. 

Our goal is to grow organically and double the amount of items given away each year (at a minimum), which has been achieved every year since Bears Who Care was founded (except 2012). Over the next five years (2016 – 2020), we plan to do the following:

· Write and publish an exclusive Bears Who Care book with a proprietary character for the 1- 8 age group.

· Secure select authors and/or book manufacturers to provide books for the children ages 9 – 16 (at a reduced cost).

· Host a minimum of one signature, annual fundraising event (Complete)

· Build a network of schools to provide children with opportunities to give back and support other children less fortunate. (Complete)

· Establish chapters via designated volunteers throughout Florida and gradually the U.S. and provide turnkey fundraising opportunities.

By establishing processes for obtaining product (books and teddy bears), we can insure that the audiences we serve (children in need and their parents) receive the comfort and inspiration we bring and broaden the impact of our organization’s mission.

 
 
 
 
Strategies
HelpWhat are the organization's strategies for its stated long-term goals?

In order to reach our long-term goals, our key strategies involve:

· Secure vendors to produce quality teddy bears and provide books for all ages in the target audience (children) at a reduced/affordable cost.

· Partner with schools in local markets to determine how those children can get involved and support Bears Who Care.

· Negotiate with local venues and event services to create the theming and logistics for the annual fundraising events.

· Ramp up social media presence and promote Bailey, the official Bears Who Care teddy bear, as an advocate for literacy and caring for others.

· Establish a network of volunteers, including a professional intern.

Resources: Book and teddy bear manufacturers; volunteers to set up additional Bears Who Care chapters;

Capacities: Author and illustrator to write children’s book; event organizer; leadership and management talent;

Connections: Local school administrators and school teachers; organizations that will benefit from Bears Who Care; media relationships to promote Bears Who Care efforts and fundraising events; sponsorships

Capabilities
HelpWhat are the organization’s capabilities for doing this? What resources, capacities, and connections support its progress towards long-term goals?
The success of Bears Who Care comes from the dedicated volunteers and leadership, as well as, key relationships and local connections.  The teddy bears and books are made available through a variety of retail companies and private donors.  There is also a support network in place with volunteers, and there is a growing base of recipient groups to whom the teddy bears and books will be donated.   Organizations that have benefitted from Bears Who Care include:
Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children
Florida Hospital for Children
Head Start
Heart Surgeons for Kids
The Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families
Humanitarian Service Project
Ivey Lane Elementary School
Maxey Elementary School
Tildenville Elementary School
Palmetto Elementary School
Osceola County Libraries 
Indicators
HelpHow will the organization know if it is making progress? What are the key qualitative and quantitative indicators against which the organization assesses its progress toward its intended impact?
Impact on the community is assessed through the amount of teddy bears and books that are distributed to children each year.  The more children we reach in a time of need, the better, as we are impacting their affinity toward reading.  All feedback we get from the children, parents and leaders of the organizations we serve are also measurements of success (and opportunities for improvement).
Our goal is to grow organically and double the amount of items given away each year, which has been achieved every year since Bears Who Care was founded (except 2012).
Currently, we rely on product donations from public and private organizations, but through focused fundraising efforts, began manufacturing Bears Who Care branded teddy bears in 2014.  Books are currently purchased through Scholastic Books and received through private donations.
Progress
HelpWhat has and hasn’t been accomplished so far?
Over the past five years, Bears Who Care has definitely evolved into a more significant charity with dedicated volunteers and established relationships.  In fact, local organizations have reached out to receive teddy bears and books.  By growing modestly and setting realistic goals, our team has been able to bring the organization’s vision to life.  Here are our distribution totals:
2008 - 2012 = 2850 teddy bears and books 
2013 = 850 teddy bears and books
2014 = 1100 teddy bears and books
2015 = 2500 teddy bears and books
2016 = 2800 teddy bears and books 
 
Currently, the greatest risk is not getting enough teddy bears and books, since we rely on manufacturers, who don’t contribute every year.  That issue will be resolved through producing an official Bears Who Care teddy bear and ideally, a children’s book.

When Bears Who Care was founded, leadership determined that our overall program goal was to grow organically and double the amount of items given away each year (at a minimum), which has been achieved every year since Bears Who Care was founded (except 2012). This has been done primarily via donations by teddy bear and book manufacturers. Until 2013, our fundraising profits have also gradually increased, as more and more people have become aware of our organization. Then, starting in 2013, we were the primary benefactors (and organizers) of a significant fundraising event, and now our organization is able to purchase our own teddy bears and buy discounted books from manufacturers. We will continue to raise enough money to double the amount of teddy bears and books that is distributed annually and achieve the five year plan we have set forth.

In 2016, we distributed a record 2800 teddy bears and plan to increase that number to 5000 by 2017. 
 
Programs
Description Bears Who Care distributes teddy bears and books to various organizations that serve disadvantaged and ill children.  Our goal is to give away a minimum of 5000 teddy bears and books to these children each year through a variety of sources (hospitals, churches, children-focused charities, etc.)  We actively seek to obtain the necessary products through donations as much as possible, but our organization is producing our own teddy bears and purchasing discounted/discontinued books through willing manufacturers.
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Adults
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.

In the short-term, the success of the program is determined by the number of teddy bears and books distributed and positive feedback from the recipients.

Through the Bears Who Care distributions, 100% of the children reached will have experienced temporary relief from their hardship (physical, financial, emotional) and be inspired to read and thus, strengthen their reading skills.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.

Long term, success is measured by doubling the number of orders annually (based on the prior year) and more importantly, how the donations of those items affects the people we serve:

  • Increasing the literacy rate in Florida for children (and ultimately adults) by a minimum of 1%.  According to the Florida Literacy Coalition, an average of 38% of grade school children read at a below average level and adult literacy rates in Florida indicate that 2.6 million adults in Florida— or 20 percent of those 16 and older — lack basic reading skills.
  • Increasing the number of parents who read with their children.  The U.S. Department of Education states that: at the beginning of kindergarten, children from a “literacy-rich” home environment (i.e., those who are read to, sung to and told stories to more frequently and those who have more children’s books, music/cds in the home) demonstrated higher reading knowledge and skills than other children.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.
  • Children literacy rates
  • Feedback from recipient organization representatives and parents/guardians of the children who receive Bears Who Care donations
Examples of SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.
Aside from the immediate gratitude from the children to whom we are able to personally give the teddy bears and books, parents have told us specifically how their children have been immediately impacted.  At Florida Hospital for Children, for example, at two different product distributions, 2-3 parents specifically told us how their children started to read their books (with the parents) and held onto their teddy bears for comfort.  We also received a package of hand-written thank you notes from the Ivey Lane Elementary School students.
 
In 2017, we will be providing Bears Who Care-branded bracelets and teddy bears to $25 minimum donations to increase them by a minimum of 10%.
Comments
CEO Comments

The distribution/outreach programs we have in place to distribute teddy bears and books varies by the organizations we serve. Here are a few examples:

· Hospitals allow us to deliver teddy bears and books, but contact with the children is restricted, due to sanitary concerns,

· Schools and churches permit us to hand the books and teddy bears to the children directly.

· Whenever possible, we (and our volunteers) read to the children ourselves, either in large groups or through one-on-one interactions.

Board Chair
Board Chair Tad J Schmitz
Company Affiliation Universal Orlando Resort
Term Jan 2015 to Dec 2025
Board Co-Chair
Board Co-Chair Kari K Schmitz
Company Affiliation Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
Term Start Jan 2015 Dec 2025
Board
Board Members
NameCompany AffiliationsStatusCertificate*
Tad J Schmitz No AffiliationVoting
Kari K Schmitz No AffiliationVoting
Joseph B Schmitz Operation St. NickVoting
*This individual has been awarded a Certificate in Orientation to Board Service by the Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership at Rollins College ebi.rollins.edu,
Board Term Lengths 10
Board Term Limits 0
Board Ethnicity
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 3
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Policies
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Written Conflict of Interest Policy No
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 65%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
CEO/Executive Director
CEO/Executive Director Tad J Schmitz
Term Start June 2009
Email tad@bearswhocare.org
Experience Tad Schmitz has held a variety of strategic marketing, advertising, internet development and promotions positions over the past 18 years, working for prestigious companies like The Walt Disney Company, Universal Orlando Resort and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.  He also championed new business development initiatives for leading creative organizations and implemented some of the most successful intellectual properties partnerships with McDonald’s, United Airlines and Target Stores.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication from Eastern Illinois University.
CEO Salary Range N/A
Co-CEO
Co-CEO Kari K Schmitz
Term Start June 2009
Email kari@bearswhocare.org
Staff
Number of Full Time Staff 0
Number of Part Time Staff 0
Number of Volunteers 5
Number of Contract Staff 0
Other
Collaborations I
State Registration Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Expiration Month Apr
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Expiration Year 2018
Fiscal Year
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2017
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocations
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$33,398$16,923$375
Administration Expense$999$1,333$10,439
Fundraising Expense$0$0$18,585
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.390.151.43
Program Expense/Total Expenses97%93%1%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%0%44%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$0$0$0
Current Assets$0$0$0
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$0$0$0
Total Net Assets$0$0$0
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountSpecial Events $30,591Foundations, Corporations and Individuals $2,656Special Events $33,959
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountFoundations, Corporations and Individuals $16,910 --Individuals $8,051
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountInterest $175 -- --
Solvency
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets------
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes
Comments
CEO Comments
Foundation Comments Financial figures taken from income and expense statements provided by the organization. Insufficient information provided for the top three funding sources chart.
Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
Notes Programs listed here are those that are only activated during a disaster. Some organizations have unified budgeting and do not budget by program. Because of this, some budget fields may be blank or represent an approximation. Organization describes previous experience during the immediate response, recovery or rebuilding phases following a disaster.
Nonprofit Bears Who Care Incorporated
Address 7809 Iceland Gull Street
Winter Garden, FL 34787
Primary Phone (407) 451-6441
Contact Email info@bearswhocare.org
CEO/Executive Director Tad J Schmitz
Board Chair Tad J Schmitz
Board Chair Company Affiliation Universal Orlando Resort
Year of Incorporation 2009