Say hello to Yoga Foster. Yoga Foster empowers teachers to bring yoga and mindfulness into their classroom through virtual programs. The work is powered by a community of donors to provide subsidized and free programming to schools that need it most.
Over the past three and a half years, Yoga Foster has grown into a national movement by elevating the wellness community to make meaningful impact for schools. Across the U.S. including 48 states 512 schools, and 1,400 teachers, educators are practicing yoga with Yoga Foster programs as the foundation.
Below is a Q&A with Nicole Cardoza, founder of Yoga Foster.
What inspired you to start Yoga Foster?
I was a yoga instructor in schools and had the opportunity of movement and mindfulness on students first-hand. The teachers at my school were interested in getting started, but weren’t sure how. I thought a simple, digital training to provide the fundamentals would help teachers familiarize themselves and effectively lead simple flows in their classroom. As mindfulness and yoga grows both within schools and the broader community, it’s important to me that we foster this work as a whole, which is why our non-profit focuses on community engagement as a source of growth and sustainability.
Can you give us an idea of how the system works and how teachers are able to become adequate instructors?
Our platform consists of an interactive digital training designed for educators, curriculum to implement short and long-form yoga classes designed for specific grade levels and small classroom spaces, and gently-used yoga mats donated by our partners.
How has the response been by parents and teachers when they become aware that yoga is coming to their schools?
Teachers are excited for the opportunity to start or enhance this practice in their classrooms, and parents are too – especially when they’re thoughtfully informed by their child’s teacher with our resources.
What data have you received that proves yoga has a positive affect in the classroom ?
Our studies have proven that this practice has an overwhelmingly positive impact on students physical, mental and emotional health in classrooms across the U.S.
Yoga Foster is now in 512 schools, which is an amazing accomplishment, did you ever envision the program to have this much success?
I did. I built this organization with the intent to reach every school in the U.S. As we achieve greater scale, it is rewarding to see the vision begin to realize itself.
If you could give a quick bit of advice to someone starting a nonprofit in their community what would it be?
Start with your strengths, not your limitations. Starting a nonprofit comes with its challenges, particularly as a women, or a founder of color (or both). Bring your impact audience into the development process of your organization. Encourage your funders to be as responsive and diligent as you are. And be patient with the practice of growing a company, instead of obsessed with the outcomes.