Our Grants

2019 Trustee Grants

Current Year Grant Summary

In 2019, the National Recreation Foundation awarded 30 Trustee Grants totaling $645,000.

image of baseball team

Boys & Girls Clubs of America

  • Website: bgca.org
  • Grant amount: $15,000

Native American youth have long experienced greater health disparities and lower life expectancy due to poverty, geographic isolation and cultural marginalization. Through its health and wellness programs, Boys & Girls Clubs work directly with youth living in Indian Country to promote healthy lifestyles with a focus on becoming more physically active, eating well and improving confidence and interpersonal skills. With 2019 NRF support, Boys & Girls Clubs of America provides Native youth with the opportunity to participate in a baseball or softball league. The Fielding Dreams in Indian Country program operates with the goal of promoting healthy lifestyles, positive behavior and positive self-perception among participating Native youth. 

image of people playing foosball

Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington

NRF funding supports the expansion and operation of the Healthy Lifestyles Recreational Program (piloted in 2018 with NRF support) to provide weekly recreational programs and introduce new athletic games and sports to kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington (BGCB). Programs are being expanded to additional Club locations, and BGCB also is implementing two new recreation-focused family engagement and community outreach events. Funding is specifically designated for recreational programs for economically disadvantaged youth and their families. 

image of children watching a sunset

Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston

  • Website: bgcb.org
  • Grant amount: $30,000

Based out of the South Boston Boys & Girls Club, Adventure Club SB is a wellness program that uses recreation and the Club environment as instruments to increase healthy lifestyle choices and habits, develop increased confidence, resiliency and self-awareness. Participating youth engage in activities, such as: hiking, camping, skiing, snow-shoeing canoeing, rock climbing and ice skating, as well as learn important skills like: knots/tarps/tent lessons, first aid, trip planning, fire building/safety, outdoor cooking, navigation, leadership development and team building.

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Breakthrough Urban Ministries

NRF funding supports Breakthrough's Home Court program, a six-week summer basketball and recreation block party in Chicago’s East Garfield Park community. 

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Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center

  • Website: boec.org
  • Grant amount: $15,000

Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC)'s Adaptive Ski and Wilderness Scholarship Fund offers outdoor recreation opportunities to those with disabilities and special needs, many of whom are financially stressed, at the lowest possible fee. BOEC subsidizes the cost of participation at approximately 60% of the actual program fee. The scholarship fund provides additional assistance to those in financial need who cannot afford these subsidized fees. BOEC’s Adaptive Ski Program includes accessible downhill and cross-country skiing and snowboarding based out of Breckenridge and Keystone Ski Resorts. BOEC has adaptive equipment that allows participation for clients with a wide range of disabilities. The Wilderness Program activities include accessible whitewater rafting, canoeing, camping, backpacking, snowshoeing, ropes course, climbing. Courses are based out of BOEC’s 39-acre Breckenridge program site and scenic outdoor areas in Colorado and Utah.

image of kids with a canoe

Camping and Education Foundation

Cincinnati’s poverty rate—over double the national average—has increased over the past decade. Many local children—whether due to financial, family, or medical reasons—have no interaction with the immense natural resources in the region. NRF funding supports the expansion of the Camping and Education Foundation's Urban Wilderness Program. The Program brings Cincinnati youth into Cincinnati’s natural areas, teaching self-reliance, teamwork, and environmental awareness.

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Catamount Institute

Half of local elementary-age students spend three hours per day interfacing with technology. Nature can be an anecdote to the stresses and social/emotional disconnection caused by this sedentary lifestyle. Research also finds environmental education and experiences can offer, particularly low-income youth, positive ways to connect with their education and community. NRF funding supports Young Environmental Stewards (YES) Clubs which engage 4th and 5th graders in a semester-long after-school program to discover nature in their neighborhood and community, identify environmental issues, and leap into outdoor adventures. YES Club lessons get kids outdoors and moving so students experience Colorado's natural world while increasing their academic science skills and become involved in their neighborhoods. Along the way students build confidence, science skills, and become stewards of their health and environment.

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Chicago Parks Golf Alliance

The Chicago Parks Golf Alliance is leading the restoration of the South Shore and Jackson Park golf courses on Chicago's South Side where it is building youth programs and creating the standard for sustainable urban golf. NRF funding supports caddy training, youth golf programs and therapeutic programs for Chicago youth at these iconic South Side golf courses.

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City of Jonesboro

Target Golf is a program developed by the Jonesboro (Arkansas) Parks and Recreation Department to get more youth into the life-long game of golf. Instead of having youth and their parents purchase equipment and pay greens fees, the Parks Department has devised with a way to introduce the game to anyone who wishes to try it at little to no cost. The program provides golf equipment, team attire and a facility for play for youth from low-income communities.

image of teens at the theater

The Classical Theatre of Harlem

The Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH) tells stories through the lens of the African diaspora and works to honor the cultural legacy of the neighborhood in which it was founded. CTH combines original adaptations, music, and dance to present great classics of world literature as well as contemporary works that will stand the test of time. CTH’s Project Classics partnership with DREAM CENTER Harlem provides a free youth six week summer program facilitating and encouraging physical activity, leadership development, and creative arts.

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Detroit Police Athletic League

NRF funding supports the Team Up program, which pairs trained police officers with youth athletic teams. These officers act as mentors/assistant coaches for the teams by attending practices, games, and hosting one mentoring session each week. This program develops mutual respect by changing each group’s perceptions of the other. With the current climate in America, this program is more relevant than ever. Support from NRF allows increased training for officers, expanded opportunities for youth, longer periods of youth engagement, resulting in deeper relationships between police officers and the communities. 

Elevate New York

Elevate New York (ENY) seeks to build long-term, life-changing relationships with urban youth from the South Bronx, equipping them to thrive and contribute to their community. ENY works to improve the quality of life for economically disadvantaged youth through healthy activities that allow young people to experience new opportunities, to develop healthy lifestyle activities and to learn the lessons of perseverance and grit that are so important for success in the future. ENY's effectiveness is attributed to a team of full-time, ethnically similar staff members, who are available to youth year-round as teacher/mentors and life coaches over multiple years. Funding from NRF is strengthening ENY’s existing Adventure Recreation program while allowing for program expansion. 

image of children playing soccer

Forza Sport Academies

Based in Austin, Texas, Forza Sports Academy (FSA) has developed an academy that strives to provide high level soccer training to athletes from diverse backgrounds. Within U.S. youth sports, the continued shift to a "pay to play" system has made it harder and harder for economically challenged families to participate, thus putting these youth further at risk. FSA believes that every child should have equal access to a program that prepares athletes to compete at the highest levels possible. Funding from NRF enables FSA to enroll additional at-risk youth in its training programs, providing equal access to the opportunities that are often only available to economically advantaged youth. 

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Friends of Carroll Park

Carroll Park is a regional park in Southwest Baltimore with underutilized athletic facilities. Most options for physical activity programs in Baltimore are fee-based, require transportation and are competitive, limiting all instructional levels of play. To combat this, the Friends of Carroll Park (FoCP) developed a youth baseball league for all levels of play. This successful program is expanding into surrounding smaller parks, as satellite locations. NRF funding supports the expansion of the program to include more satellite locations at small area parks, as well as a greater diversity of sport options for even deeper community participation.

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Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles

Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles’ (GSGLA) commitment to providing progressive outdoor recreational experiences for economically challenged girls is the foundation to The Great Outdoor Adventure. This program is built on a progression model—stages that introduce girls to new outdoor environments and expand experiences in tandem with her growing self-confidence. The all-girl environment provides a safe space for them to be present, engaged and empowered. Funding from NRF supports the expansion of this program in the South LA and Long Beach communities.

Harlem Grown

NRF funding supports Harlem Grown's summer day camp. This camp is provided free-of-charge to families in-need from Harlem and the Bronx. An immersive experience, camp is designed to inspire youth to lead healthy and ambitious lives through mentorship and hands-on education in urban farming, sustainability, and nutrition. In addition to campers, NRF also supports a leadership training program for teens from the community. The overall goal of the camp experience is to instill healthy habits and empower the children to make healthier choices both on and off the plate.

Image of kids on a soccer team

Heart of Los Angeles

The soccer leagues at Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) are among the most popular Athletics Program offerings for the kids in the surrounding, low-income, urban community. With support from NRF, HOLA is growing the program through the addition of soccer clinics and the formalization of Soccer Leagues as a feeder system for HOLA’s College Access Program. Skill-building clinics give disadvantaged student athletes a unique chance to consider their individual developmental journey separately from the team, building a sense of personal power. Clinics also give kids a chance to interact with new mentors and professionals, enhancing program benefits related to positive role models and exposure to diverse ways of thinking and living. The dynamic created through such an experience provides the perfect backdrop for outreach to student athletes to engage them in college access programming.

image of a child playing soccer

Heart of the City

Many families in Lake County, Illinois face significant socioeconomic challenges to involving their children in organized sports, an activity that could change the trajectory of young lives. Hispanic girls, in particular, must overcome significant obstacles. Culturally, the community views soccer as "a boy's sport," and that girls are not physically strong enough for its challenges. Young Latinas struggle to navigate between their own desire to play, their family's customs and expectations, and the cost of participation. With funding from NRF, Heart of the City (HOTC) is increasing the number of girls participating in recreational soccer in Waukegan, North Chicago and Zion. By increasing HOTC’s capacity to recruit and coordinate high-quality soccer experiences for girls, girls at all levels of play in recreation and travel leagues will become more competitive on the field, successful in the classroom and productive in the community.

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Junior Achievement of Southern California, Inc.

Los Angeles County’s at-risk youth benefit from special programming provided by Junior Achievement of Southern California (JA) that prepares them to move from their current challenging socioeconomic situations towards desired careers and lifestyles. Through the JA Mind & Body Initiative, Los Angeles students participate in a two-week summer camp. Students experience JA Finance Park, an instructional facility, focused on financial literacy, work force readiness and entrepreneurship. During each day of the camp, students participate in two unique physical activity periods. Students emerge with an enhanced sense of financial literacy, budgeting, money management, physical health, and how to position themselves as preferred candidates in the careers they aspire to achieve.

Liberty's Kitchen

Liberty’s Kitchen believes in a community where all young people, no matter their background, can succeed if given the opportunity. NRF funding supports the expansion of Liberty Kitchen's youth development and youth leadership programs in New Orleans, Louisiana. These programs are core to its mission of providing pathways to success, and they seed the talent pipeline for its emerging food access and entrepreneurial work. The Youth Development Program cultivates trainees' culinary and hospitality skills, and trainees complete an externship with a carefully chosen employer partner, often becoming hired in the process. Alumni of that program enroll in the Youth Leadership Program, which focuses on career development and the cultivation of leadership skills.

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Life's Kitchen

Life’s Kitchen in Boise, Idaho is dedicated to transforming the lives of young adults by building self-sufficiency and independence through comprehensive food service and life skills training, placement in the food service industry and continuing education. Funding from NRF supports Life’s Kitchen’s Summer Food Service and Life Skills Training Program. This summer program is  tailored to support trainees who only have the summer months to participate. Participants are young adults from disadvantaged circumstances who are committed to staying in school but seek to build life skills and increase their employability. 

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Miami Valley Christian Academy

NRF funding supports equipment needs for preschool through high school physical education, recreation and athletics at the Miami Valley Christian Academy based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

image of teens with fossils

The Nature Conservancy of Illinois

Owned and managed by the Chicago Park District, the Burnham Wildlife Corridor (BWC) is a 100-acre ribbon of urban wilderness and public green space running along the Chicago’s south lakefront. This area is home to various native habitats and serves as an important pathway for pollinators and migratory birds. Adjacent and located west of this ecological gem are the communities of Bronzeville, Little Village, Bridgeport, Chinatown and other neighborhoods struggling in the face of inequity, discrimination and poverty. In response to these challenges, local leaders and community-based organizations are seeking resources for positive change. Although people living in these communities live within a few miles of the BWC, they feel disconnected from this natural asset. This project addresses this gap. The Nature Conservancy is partnering with multiple youth-focused organizations, including Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab, Project Vision, The Honeycomb Project and University of Illinois at Chicago, to connect youth to the BWC and Palmisano Park through citizen science and small scale native plantings. The aim is to foster a sense of place and community while building ambassadors for native pollinators.

image of children in an orchestra

Philadelphia Youth Orchestra

  • Website: pyos.org
  • Grant amount: $30,000

NRF funding supports Tune Up Philly, an after-school instrumental music instruction for students ages 6-14 in Philadelphia’s most under-resourced communities. Tune Up Philly creates and inspires true community evolution through music and purposeful connection. Through rigorous, high quality, and routine instrumental instruction, public performances, and rehearsal opportunities with peers, Tune Up Philly students learn their own value as individuals, and learn that they can succeed in challenging situations often not presented to their peers from similar backgrounds.

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PlayGrand Adventures

The 12-acre PlayGrand Adventures in Grand Prairie, Texas is the first all-abilities playground of such magnitude in the United States. Funding from NRF will help it overcome one of its primary challenges, which is animating PlayGrand Adventures with extensive and fully inclusive programming. The PlayGrand Adventures program, We Energize, allows it to better identify the potential scope and range of interest in the facility when it opens in 2019. Furthermore, NRF funding will support a recreation therapy intern, instructor training, and free key wellness activities for at-risk youth ages 11-18 from the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area enrolled in the We Energize program.

image of teens jumping on a dock

Pride ROC

NRF funding supports the expansion of Pride ROC's Gang Rescue and Refinement Passages program. Pride ROC views youth as a raw undeveloped resource just spilling their potential in the streets. Passages focuses on young men from the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois who are most likely to shoot or be shot. Those who are trapped within this gang culture cannot see, and therefore do not believe, that there is a way out. They grew up under the weight of decades of oppression and now live with complex developmental trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. As a result, they lack the skills to succeed in life, even if offered a job today. Passages develops resources in participants by creating space for them to learn life skills through physical and recreational activities, ancient healing practices, and trauma-informed therapeutic interventions. After participating in this program, young men are transformed and empowered to make positively change in their lives.

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Sloane Stephens Foundation

NRF funding supports the expansion of Scholar Tennis at Recess (STAR), a program that brings structured tennis play and physical activity to elementary school children in Compton, California during recess two days each week. STAR increases students’ physical activity during recess, improves social interactions between students and provides teachers with a model for continuing the activity on days of the week when the program leaders are not on site.

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Street2Feet (S2F) promotes health in body, mind and spirit with youth, families, and individuals experiencing homelessness. NRF support focuses on increasing youth participation in the program. S2F clients, including youth, suffer higher than average physical and emotional health problems due to financial and emotional stressors they face. S2F removes barriers to healthy lifestyles facing its participants by introducing and practicing accessible, sustaining exercise options. S2F youth experience the fun of being a “regular” kid as they join with peers from around the greater community to share a common goal: to cross the finish line. Enjoying these shared experiences, S2F youths are empowered and encouraged to combat the trauma associated with homelessness. 

image of teens near the water

Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center

Wolf Ridge offers a wide variety of outdoor recreation focused activities and experiences, from rock climbing, high ropes courses, orienteering, canoeing, and kayaking, to natural history and ecology classes that hike through the woods and trails of its 2000 acre campus in Finland, Minnesota. Wolf Ridge believes that learning about and caring for the environment, as well as experiencing personal growth and challenge through outdoor education and recreation, is an important part of everyone’s development and it makes it a high priority to make sure that all of our students have the opportunity to participate in our classes and activities. Funding from NRF allows Wolf Ridge to serve participants with impaired physical ability and to address barriers to participation experienced by low income families and culturally diverse families.

image of people river rafting

Youth Outside

NRF funding supports Youth Outside's Outdoor Educators Institute (OEI)—a 3-month intensive course in outdoor skills and recreation. The core goals of OEI are to empower and advance youth from communities of color in the outdoor recreation field; and to create access to nature for youth that experience barriers including resources, gear or skills training. For most participants, this is their first exposure to outdoor skills like expedition planning, kayaking, natural history and mountaineering. With support from NRF, Youth Outside is growing the OEI program and supporting more youth than ever.