By Roger Clark
November 28, 2023
Getting a good night of sleep is something every child needs to thrive. And Pajama Program, a city nonprofit, has been promoting equitable access to healthy sleep for more than two decades.
“We just think this is so critical — that kids are set up to have a good night’s sleep consistently, night after night,” said Jahna Orzano, the chief program officer for Pajama Program.
The philosophy of the nonprofit is that children will perform better in school and other activities with better sleep.
Marketing executive Genevieve Piturro founded the organization in 2001. She was reading to children in city homeless shelters, and encountered many who did not have pajamas.
Since then, the nonprofit has delivered nearly 8 million pairs of pajamas and just over 3 million books to children and teenagers.
In recent years, the organization has put an extra emphasis on sleep health education, working not only with kids, but parents and teachers too.
“It’s great to make sure kids have the physical materials for a good night’s sleep, but we are really interested in making sure kids get the quality and quantity of sleep that they need, and that goes beyond just pajamas and books,” Orzano said.
Pajama Program currently partners with more than 25 schools across the five boroughs, and provides pajamas and books to just over 100 shelters, foster care agencies and community organizations around town.
Across all of their programs, Pajama Program says it reaches about 300,000 students and hopes to get to even more.
“We don’t want to charge the communities for this service, but we have lot of costs as a nonprofit, so if we are able to get donations, the donations go a really long way for us to be able to reach families directly,” Orzano said.