Image courtesy of Russell Byers Charter School

Our Future

We recently asked ourselves this question: "We know that we have changed and that the world around us has changed. What methods of doing business should we consider modifying, if any, so that we operate most effectively in this changed environment?" 

It is our plan to explore a number of new ways of achieving our mission, including the following:

- Employing new philanthropic strategies and models that focus Foundation resources in certain areas, such as childhood obesity, thereby increasing impact.

- Forming new partnerships with other foundations and organizations that share National Recreation Foundation's mission and values.

- Developing clear performance measures that validate the return on investment and inform future grant-making.

- Documenting and publicizing, via this website as well as printed materials, effective and creative models funded by the Foundation that capitalize on the transformative nature of recreation.

- Facilitating a national replication of effective models that the Foundation has funded.

- Creating a learning community with Foundation grantees and partners that will enhance the field, foster collaboration and encourage collective problem solving. 

- Creating a nimble and opportunistic culture with the Foundation that identifies and capitalizes on opportunities that can help advance the Foundation's mission and strategic priorities.

These new initiatives excite us a great deal. A careful examination of and investment in new opportunities, however, will take time. We are focused on making the very best use of our grants. Thus, we envision the next several years as a period of evolution and growth focused on creating greater mission impact.

Sophie Twichell

Perhaps the single most important change we decided to make in answer to the question above and to enable the time-consuming and thoughtful investigation of new opportunities spelled out above was to engage our first full-time Executive Director.  Our new Executive Director, Sophie Twichell, operates out of our new office in Lake Forest, Illinois.

After receiving her BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania, Sophie began her career at The Field Museum in Chicago as a Research Associate and the Coordinator of the Spring Systematics Symposium. She joined the staff of the Lake Michigan Federation (known today as Alliance for the Great Lakes) as Development Associate and moved up to Assistant Director. After graduating with a JD and a certificate in Environmental and Energy Law from Chicago-Kent College of Law, Sophie returned to Field Museum to manage its international conservation programs.  She then joined Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods where she has served as executive director for over ten years. 

Sophie has an authentic appreciation for our mission. She sees a direct connection between her work preserving, protecting and celebrating natural assets and recreation. Furthermore, her work at Brushwood Center has emphasized outreach to communities of color that have not historically enjoyed nature, the outdoors and recreational spaces.  Her creativity and culturally sensitive outreach significantly increased the diversity of people who enjoyed programming at Brushwood Center and area nature preserves. 

We all welcome Sophie to the National Recreation Foundation.


The National Recreation Foundation accepts no unsolicited grant proposals.
Grants are only generated by its Trustees.