MedRisk President Appointed President of Injured Worker-Focused Nonprofit

Ken Martino discusses his new role with national nonprofit Kids’ Chance of America (KCOA), how the organization supports injured workers’ families, and the importance of sustaining this cause during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ask anyone who works at MedRisk, from patient advocates to clinicians, and they’ll tell you that when a worker gets injured on the job, the effects can be wide-reaching.

MedRisk specializes in helping patients physically recover from an injury, but there’s often another challenge injured workers face following disability: getting back on their feet financially.

This is why MedRisk supports Kids’ Chance of America (KCOA), a national nonprofit supporting state organizations that provide scholarships to children of workers who have been seriously or fatally injured on the job.

The cause has been particularly close to the heart of MedRisk President and longtime KCOA board member Ken Martino, who was recently named KCOA president.

“An injured worker’s medical benefits and wage replacement can go a long way, but if their child wants to go to college, it’s not necessarily going to be enough,” Martino said. “At MedRisk, it’s our mission to do whatever we can to support injured workers, and this is one more way to do that.”

Initially following its founding in 1988, KCOA’s primary focus was developing and expanding its national footprint. In Martino’s time with the nonprofit, he’s seen KCOA’s state organizations nearly triple in size from organizations in 16 states to having a presence in 47 states and counting. In that time, the role of KCOA and its leadership team has also transformed to focus on helping the state organizations be as successful as possible – a responsibility that will require some ingenuity while navigating the coronavirus pandemic.

“KCOA and state organizations are going to have to blaze some new trails, even more so than in the past,” Martino said. “A lot of states use fundraisers like golf tournaments, bowl-a-thons or other group activities that will not be available for a while. We are going to have to think of new ways to fundraise. Technology can be a big help here. For example, we moved our KCOA Annual Meeting to a virtual platform and will hold board meetings and the Council of State Organizations meetings virtually.”

Martino is confident that the organization will adapt to meet the challenge, thanks to the dedicated individuals who commit their time and resources to the cause. KCOA’s national partners and sponsoring organizations like MedRisk are not only donors but also important referral sources for scholarship recipients. And in addition to those who sit on the board of the national organization, each state is managed by a board of directors that organizes, fundraises, and allocates and awards scholarships within their state. Like Martino, these individuals tend to stick around.

“I have followed some great leaders at Kids’ Chance – many of whom who are still involved at the organization. I talk to past presidents on a regular basis to discuss where we’re headed and to tap into their wisdom and expertise. I hope to pass on that same vibrant leadership myself,” he said.

Martino is already spearheading the development of nomination materials for KCOA’s first endowed scholarship fund and previously assisted in the development of an emergency grant program. Moving forward in his role as president, his goal is to continue supporting and engaging the organizations’ many contributors while also expanding KCOA’s reach – an objective that takes on new importance in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We need the support of the workers’ comp community to help the kids who have not only been impacted by the hardship of a parent’s work-related injury but also a weakened economy,” Martino said. “We have all seen the impact [the pandemic] is having on everyone across the country, but even more so for our Kids. Many of them have part-time jobs to help make ends meet, which are no longer available due to current restrictions. Now more than ever, they are going to need our help if they are going to achieve their educational aspirations.”

To make a donation to Kids’ Chance of America, visit kidschance.org/donate. If you’d like to become a partner, visit www.kidschance.org/partner.