JDC Client Spotlight: Kids In Nutrition

JDC Client Spotlight: Kids In Nutrition

The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) recently partnered with a pro bono client, the nonprofit Kids In Nutrition (KIN). Through the Community Organization Representation Project (CORP), KIN has been able to work with volunteer attorneys on a variety of legal matters.
To learn a bit more about KIN, JDC reached out to CEO Michelle Nicolet. Nicolet described KIN as a “passion project that turned into a career.” She co-founded the program in 2014 as a sophomore at UC Santa Barbara with her friend Angela Shields. Unable to find nutrition-related initiatives in their community, they strove to create an organization that would promote the idea of nutrition being tied to physical and mental wellness and wanted to address the education gap that they identified in our educational system.

Their organization focuses on disadvantaged children in first and second grade and consists of a seven-week program where graduate and undergraduate students partner with classrooms to teach interactive nutrition curriculum covering a variety of topics. Students form ‘KIN groups’ with their instructors, and get the opportunity to, as Nicolet explained, “form healthy habits at a young age so that they can carry those into adulthood and have an understanding of what healthy eating looks like.” The nonprofit currently has several chapters throughout California and has a presence in Massachusetts and Indiana. “It’s really grown into a university student LED movement,” Nicolet stated.

KIN originally found CORP through a web search. They applied through the CORP webpage and were soon in contact with the CORP paralegal at the time, who worked with supervising attorney Nicola Wood to place them with attorneys capable of addressing their legal issues. Over the past few years, Kids In Nutrition has worked with three different firms to address trademark issues, review the necessary waivers and contracts involved with working in elementary schools, and generate an employee handbook for the program. Nicolet also attended one of CORP’s Nonprofit Health Check-ins, where nonprofits are paired with attorneys to review their legal compliance. This allowed her to ask questions and gain a greater understanding of nonprofit needs and requirements. Nicolet found it very helpful and plans to attend another compliance clinic in the future once the program begins to have employees.

Nicolet has a strong opinion on the accessibility of pro bono services to non-profits. “It was such a weight off my shoulders to have this assistance,” she explained. “I’ve been learning along the way, and then to have this whole separate legal world…it was just overwhelming and not really feasible to do while running the program. Having this help was priceless.” Nicolet appreciated the detailed nature of the firms she worked with, and their efforts to make sure she understood as much as she could about the process. “I’m very grateful for the CORP Program,” she concluded.

KIN is currently establishing a charter at UCLA, but their focus is on establishing capacity through creating volunteer training models, establishing full employment for Nicolet, and strengthening the foundation of the organization before expanding.

If you would like to get involved with our Community Organization Representation Project and help projects like the one above, please email us at probono@sfbar.org.

Want to learn more about KIN? Visit www.kidsinnutrition.org or email info@kidsinnutrition.org.