Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis

Abilities redefined, possibilities reimagined

aka Variety St. Louis   |   St. Louis, MO   |  www.varietystl.org

Mission

Variety empowers children with special needs by providing access to medical equipment, therapy, and innovative programs.

Ruling year info

1968

Executive Director

Mr. Brian Roy

Main address

11840 Westline Industrial Dr Suite 220

St. Louis, MO 63146 USA

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Formerly known as

Variety Club of St. Louis

EIN

43-6078016

NTEE code info

Health Support Services (E60)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (A01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Children with disabilities and their families face significant challenges each and every day, and Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis strives to meet their needs to improve the quality of life of the entire family. We offer a comprehensive and dynamic breadth of services for children with special needs, at no charge, with a specific focus on the needs of low-to-middle income families in Greater St. Louis, by providing them with physician-prescribed durable medical equipment and therapy as well as recreational, educational, and cultural opportunities. To many children, Variety helps them realize a more fulfilling life, create closer connections to their families, participate in experiences they never thought possible, make friends, and even inspire future life and career goals.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Durable Medical Equipment

Variety St. Louis provides vital, physician-prescribed medical equipment to hundreds of children with disabilities from low-to-moderate income families who live in the St. Louis metropolitan area, spanning 30 counties in Missouri and Illinois. This equipment includes manual and power wheelchairs, walkers, communication devices, leg braces, hearing aids, prostheses, van lifts, safety beds, and more.

For a family to receive assistance, they must demonstrate financial hardship in providing the necessary equipment for their child. Variety ensures each child receives a proper initial equipment evaluation to achieve a custom fit. Once the equipment is delivered, Variety is available to work with the vendor to make any adjustments to the equipment until satisfactory.

Once an eligible child is enrolled with Variety, he or she will continue to receive new equipment and/or repairs as they grow or their needs change until the age of 21, resulting in no out-of-pocket expense for the family.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
People with disabilities
Low-income people

TherHappy Kids provides families of children with physical and developmental disabilities with financial assistance to access therapy services.

Therapy is a critical component of the health and well-being of a child with a disability. At times, Variety Kids may need more consistency and increased frequency of therapy visits to adequately address their needs. Variety Families are often unable to meet that need as it may not be covered by private or public insurance. To help close the gap, Variety provides access to medically prescribed physical, occupational, equine, aquatic, and speech therapy. Variety enables children to receive therapy necessary for their growth when they need it.

Consistent therapy services are integral to a child's progress in strengthening, range of motion, functional mobility, and independence. With Variety's assistance, area children with disabilities are provided with uninterrupted access to these vital services.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
People with disabilities
Low-income people

Variety's Recreation program features Adventure Camp, a day camp held for multiple weeks in the summer and a few days over winter break. Adventure Camp is free and open to children ages 4 through 16 with physical and developmental disabilities. The focus of this program is to increase socialization and develop confidence. Campers receive one-on-one assistance from staff as they take on new challenges, such as rock climbing, sports, cooking, music, ice skating, fishing, and more. For older youth, ages 14 – 20, Variety offers free Teen Camp sessions which include all of the above activities, with the addition of leadership development.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, summer camp was moved online in 2020 and 2021, featuring familiar counselors and engaging activities.

Variety also hosts two family events per year that provide opportunities for networking and socializing. Recently, online social groups have offered opportunities for Variety Kids and Teens to socialize with their peers.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
People with disabilities

Variety's inclusive Performing Arts program includes Variety Theatre, Variety Children's Chorus, and Variety Dance.

Variety Theatre provides children of all abilities the opportunity to perform in a professional musical theatre production. Participants gain knowledge and experience in all aspects of theatre craft. Variety Theatre's first professional production was Tom Sawyer in 2009 and it has continued to grow each year, with shows now reaching audiences of 10,000.

Since 2000, the Variety Children's Chorus, a fully inclusive vocal group, has been showcasing the incredible talents of children with special needs throughout the St. Louis region. Chorus has grown in recent years to 50+ performers who learn to read music and take direction, as well as gain confidence.

Variety Dance gives kids of all abilities a chance to learn and practice basic musical theatre-style choreography in an inclusive environment. Teachers from local dance companies teach this class of 20+ kids.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
People with disabilities

Where we work

Accreditations

Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance 2008

Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance 2015

Charity Navigator 2015

Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity 2021

Awards

William R. Forman Silver Heart Award: This annual award recognizes the top Variety tents (chapters) from around the world. St. Louis Variety won the award for its dynamic fundraising effort and extraordinary record of services to children with disabilities. 2008

Variety International

Television Partnership Award to KMOV-TV (St. Louis CBS Affiliate) and St. Louis Variety 2007

National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation

William R. Forman Bronze Heart Award: This annual award recognizes the top Variety tents (chapters) from around the world. St. Louis Variety won the award for its dynamic fundraising effort and extraordinary record of services to children with disabilities. 2010

Variety International

Special Award for a Body of Work 2018

St. Louis Theatre Circle

Gold Heart Award 2013

Variety International

Torch Award 2015

Better Business Bureau

Affiliations & memberships

Community Health Charities 2008

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

As a leading local charity with expertise in serving more than 100 types of disabilities, Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis is making a difference in the life of a child, every hour of every day, as a result of its focus on continuous service each time a child needs our support.

Built on the model of providing access to critical services and support through durable medical equipment and therapy, and providing opportunities for recreation, socialization, and artistic expression through Variety Performing Arts, this organization improves the quality of life for Variety children by focusing on their abilities, not their disabilities.

Through our unique model, these children build the skills they need to engage and experience their world as fully as possible and demonstrate belief in themselves, their abilities, and their contributions to society. They can then gain and maintain independence at home, in school, and in the community.

For many children, it all begins with durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, braces, communication devices combined with various types of therapy to fully utilize it. This is the bedrock of our approach.

From there, Variety children make valuable progress through our recreation and performing arts programs. Each program is specifically adapted to afford these children maximum growth in skills, self-esteem, socialization, and independence.

These programs help Variety children reach benchmarks and milestones that, before, were never thought possible. At the same time, each program fosters the opportunity for each participant to just be a kid. Each child's advancement is integrated throughout all of our programs to provide a holistic approach to his or her services. This is the key to reaching profound growth.

Variety empowers children with physical and developmental disabilities, also referred to as children with special needs, and improves their quality of life. Our programs highlight ability rather than disability. This holistic approach gives access to critical medical equipment and therapies, along with innovative Camp and Performing Arts programs, which provide opportunities for recreation, socialization, and artistic expression. Children gain or maintain independence, boost socialization among their friends and family, demonstrate belief in themselves, and increase skills they need to engage their world as fully as possible

Recent accomplishments include the development of a uniform program assessment tool to track satisfaction and outcomes against the core competencies of skills, socialization, self-esteem, independence. Other accomplishments include transitioning Variety completely to a direct service provider, continuing to increase awareness by engaging and partnering with key community partners and recruiting two key leadership positions.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Variety St. Louis serves children with disabilities and strives to ensure these kids are engaged, included members of their community. Efforts continue to reach underserved communities – both urban and rural – to help expand and include as many children as possible. To better understand the perspective of the family, Variety has formed the Family Council in recent years. This group of families meets regularly to offer feedback about Variety programs and articulate firsthand the challenges they face. The Family Council has been an invaluable asset as the organization works to maximize the impact for families. Additionally, Variety aims to recruit and retain staff, board members, and volunteers that reflect the makeup of the community.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, events,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Variety Families have regularly voiced that their child with special needs has limited friendships and socialization opportunities with peers outside of their family. In response to this need, Variety has developed 'Social Groups' in the past year to create a space for children and teens with special needs to socialize, nurture friendships, and have fun together. Social Groups activities remain online for now and include karaoke, crafts, dancing, games, and more.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Variety programs have always been a response to feedback coming from families with children with special needs. The organization's transition from a granting agency to a direct service provider was based largely on feedback from families calling attention to the most prominent gaps in services available for their children: equipment, therapy, recreation, and performing arts. That spirit continues today as Variety actively solicits feedback from service recipients in pursuit of program improvements that maximize the impact for families. Variety Families truly guide the direction of the organization because they have the deepest understanding of what their children need to grow and thrive.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback,

Financials

Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis

Board of directors
as of 10/08/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Lawrence Otto

US Bank, St. Louis Market President (retired)

Term: 2018 - 2021

Steve Crimmins

Nestle Purina Pet Foods (retired)

Marilyn Fox

Community Volunteer

Thelma Steward

Community Volunteer

Steven Gross

Gross Financial Group

Leslie Wilson

BKD LLP

Warner Baxter

Ameren

Amy Best

US Trust, Bank of America

Ian Caso

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Joseph Castellano

Anheuser-Busch AB-InBev

Laura Ellenhorn

Edward Jones

Donald Ferguson

Land Dynamics Inc.

Sean Fleming

Distribution Management

Mary Kaye Fort

Community Volunteer

Cheryl Fromm

Community Volunteer

Raymond Gruender

US Court of Appeals

David Hogan

Hogan Transports Inc.

Christopher Kerckhoff

Plancorp

Lee Kling

The Kling Family Foundation

Nancy Kranzberg

Community Volunteer

Davida Lichtenstein

David B. Lichtenstein Foundation

Michael Lefton

Metal Exchange Corporation

Daniel Ludeman

Concordance Academy

Robert O'Loughlin

Lodging Hospitality Management Corporation

Terri Owen

Fleishman-Hillard

Erin Prange

The Big Muddy Dance Company

Lucia Rosenbloom

Community Volunteer

William Schock

Schock Law

Paul Shaughnessy

BSI Constructors, Inc

Kimberly Springer

Attorney-At-Law

Michael Staenberg

TSG Properties

David Steward

World Wide Technology

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 9/30/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 07/15/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.