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In 2006, Penn Law alumna &05, Judy Shen, founded CAI, a non-profit organization dedicated to the empowerment of migrant and left-behind youth in China. CAI runs character-building, arts and sports programs for underprivileged and displaced children in and around the Beijing area. Through these programs, CAI hopes to transform disadvantaged youth by instilling in them the soft skills of creative and critical thinking and the core values of confidence, courage, commitment and care.

From Penn to Non-Profit

Judy left Penn in 2005 and was a Fulbright scholar researching intellectual property law in China. While in China, she encountered street children who opened her eyes to the poverty and plight of the many migrant children living on the outskirts of various Chinese cities. Troubled by the struggles that these children faced, Judy was determined to help these children and chose to focus on their limited access to education.

Aiming for empowerment of the children over mere charity, Judy designed programs geared towards the development of not technical abilities but of fundamental life skills and character values. She wanted to teach these children to solve problems and think critically, to take both personal and social responsibility; she hoped that the four C*s of confidence, courage, commitment and care, tenets around which she structured her programs, would help the children navigate smoothly through life*s triumphs and challenges. Arts and sports were selected as the medium of education for their engaging and experiential natures. The first program 每 a two-week long summer camp at two schools for migrant children in Beijing 每 kicked-off in the summer of 2006.

The program, consisting of music, dance, photography, sculpting, drawing, painting and crafts classes, was wildly successful, directly benefiting sixty primary school students and involving thirty volunteers from local and international communities. But as the programs developed and expanded in scope and reach, Judy found it increasingly difficult to juggle her professional career as a corporate attorney in Hong Kong with the rewarding but rigorous responsibilities of directing the programs in Beijing. Eventually, she decided to devote herself full-time to the empowerment of migrant children. The program was scaled up into an actual organization, and CAI, the organization, was born.

About CAI

CAI has since expanded beyond its initial two week program. It is now comprised of three initiatives:

Arts & Sports Programs
※I [was] very touched by the students* desire to learn more about the world and about art.§ 每 Yingxin Sun (CAI School Coordinate at Dongba Experimental School)

※I feel happy learning basketball, and I really want to learn more. Most importantly, I feel that we are a team and we must care about each other.§ 每 excerpt from the class diary of student

Li Xue
CAI runs creative arts, music and sports education programs at various schools scattered around the Beijing area, working to promote the healthy emotional and physical development of migrant children. The Spring 2009 semester saw successful programs at six schools, engaging the hearts and minds of approximately three hundred and sixty children ranging in age from nine to thirteen years old. A two-week camp takes place in the summer.

Teacher Training
Through teacher training programs, CAI hopes to extend the opportunity of healthy and creative education to left-behind children, those left at home in rural areas as their parents migrate to seek a living elsewhere. CAI runs teacher training courses in various cities in China (the last one being Chong Qing in Sichuan Province), recruiting two dozen or so teachers each time to reach out to and impact children in rural schools. Each program session is estimated to bring benefit to about two thousand five hundred rural children.

Promise School
CAI has the long-term vision of establishing the Promise School, a bilingual academy for highly gifted rural students. Focusing on middle to high school students with leadership potential and musical talent, the Promise School will prepare talented children for ascension into top Chinese and international universities. Through the school, CAI wishes to imbue the children with a sense of social responsibility, while giving them the hopes and chances to become China*s future leaders and artists.

CAI*s mission 每 Judy*s mission 每 is a noble but daunting one, and any support offered would be greatly appreciated. CAI is about engaging and fostering community as much as helping migrant children, and would love to involve supporters from all sectors of society. Whether you are a housewife or a professional, have children studying in high school or university, work for a business firm or a community group interested in charitable activities, CAI would love to hear from you.

Volunteer: CAI offers opportunities to volunteer at the office or on location at the schools. Coach sports, teach art or help out at the CAI office if you want a personal experience of working with CAI. We have spaces for you!

Donate: Support CAI by making a donation. Big or small, any demonstration of support is appreciated

Purchase: CAI sells voucher booklets, the proceeds of which are donated towards the benefit of CAI*s arts and athletics programs. Part of the Meals that Matter fundraising campaign, CAI*s voucher booklets offers a hefty collection of discount vouchers, donated by roughly fifty of Beijing*s top dining establishments. They are a steal at only 299 RMB apiece for over 2000 RMB*s worth of discounts, so buy yours today! Also available for sale are t-shirts and greeting cards designed by children engaged in CAI*s Arts Programs.
Please visit www.cai-china.org for more information.

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