Krystal Simon’s career trajectory was transformed as an intern at The Great Game of Business Inc. A senior studying public relations at Drury University, Simon expected she’d find a career in corporate communications.
After meeting Great Game founder Jack Stack and learning about his “heart for philanthropy and giving back,” she realized she could do what she loves for causes she loves.
Over her career, Simon has set record after record fundraising.
In the early 2000s, she served on the board for American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. The group raised the third-largest amount in the nation, surpassing $700,000. While working as development director and operations officer for Camp Barnabas, Simon quadrupled donations to $2.2 million in less than a year and improved the nonprofit’s cash position to $1 million from a negative $500,000 in eight months. She oversaw its $4.5 million budget.
But Simon says her greatest challenge is ahead of her. Installed as CEO of Care to Learn in July 2021, Simon hopes to help the organization grow to a nationwide charity.
Care to Learn, founded in 2008 by Springfield businessman Doug Pitt, provides immediate funding to meet children’s needs in the areas of health, hunger and hygiene so they have their best possible chance at learning and succeeding.
“It’s just the simple things kids need, and we can make an immediate impact. There’s no red tape. No form. We see something and we respond,” Simon says.
Simon says she was all in after lengthy conversations with Pitt and his wife Lisa about where Care to Learn is headed.
“I can’t think of a better place for me to be, to impact millions of kids’ lives,” Simon says.
She says the next two or three years will be spent laying a healthy financial foundation for existing chapters. Simon wants to ensure those 38 chapters across the state have the fundraising in place to take care of their needs.
The next step toward taking the nonprofit national is creating the infrastructure for scalability. She says every community is different, but there is an understanding for what an ideal chapter looks like.
“There is a model that we have our most success in, and we want to stick to that model,” she says.
Care to Learn has met the needs of nearly 2 million children since inception, and Simon expects to hit that milestone in early 2022.
“I know on average it costs $7.32 to meet the need of a child. That’s not even lunch,” she says of the comparative cost. “That’s my motivation. That’s why I said yes to Care to Learn.”
A career pivot for a former human resources professional resulted in Bosky’s Vegan Grill; Neverending Game Store LLC made its second move in as many years; and Mercy Springfield Communities added a second Queen City clinic focused on sports rehabilitation and performance improvement.