National Recreation Foundation Spotlight

June 1, 2012, Department, by NRPA

As part of an ongoing series on the National Recreation Foundation, Parks & Recreation highlights grant recipients for the foundation’s program benefitting at-risk youths. This month features programs from Pennsylvania, Texas, and California.  

Russell Byers Charter School
ABC Leadership Program Grant – $77,295

The ABC Leadership Program provides innovate opportunities for Russell Byers Charter School’s predominantly low-income third through sixth grade students in the Philadelphia area. Through this program, RBCS aims to use recreation as a positive force, promoting students’ physical, mental, and social health. Components of the ABC program are Adventure, Bound for college, and Competition. Using a low ropes challenge course, the program nurtures self-confidence, leadership, and trust (Adventure); encourages students to aspire to lofty goals by visiting local colleges in order to expand horizons for urban youth (Bound for college); and facilitates a chess team, ballroom dancing, and debate for opportunities to engage in healthy competition and good sportsmanship (Competition).

TCU Institute of Child Development Grant – $100,000 

The Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, strives to help children suffering the effects of early trauma, abuse, or neglect by conducting research to deepen the understanding about the complex needs of these children and how and why these harmful experiences can impair development and lead to social, behavioral, and emotional problems. The grant is in its third year of funding and goes to support the implementation of a comprehensive training program for children’s residential care centers, community agencies, and other professionals who support at-risk youth. The training program teaches others how to replicate TCU Institute of Child Development’s successful, research-based methods of supporting and empowering vulnerable children throughout the country. Funds from NRF have helped organize and launch the training program, which offers hope to families and their communities.

Latino Theater Company
Summer Conservatory for Dance Grant – $75,000

The mission at the Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC) is to provide a world-class arts center for those pursuing artistic excellence; a laboratory where both tradition and innovation are honored and honed; and a place where the convergence of people, cultures, and ideas contribute to the future. The LATC Summer Conservancy for Dance program aims to address the needs of low-income, minority students in the Los Angeles community who are interested in pursuing dance. It was developed under the leadership of Latino Theater Company Artistic Director and UCLA Professor Jose LuisValenzuela to create an opportunity for high school students from under-served communities to experience and train in a conservatory setting. The program will provide high school students with college preparatory skills as well as training in dance. Furthermore, it will offer at-risk youth with recreational opportunities to develop their sense of creativity, physical capabilities, and ability to be proactive in their own personal development.

The National Recreation Foundation 

The National Recreation Foundation and NRPA, along with its predecessor organizations, have had a close working relationship since 1919. The foundation has supported many programs and activities through NRPA for all of those years, including the National Recreation School, the World Leisure and Recreation Association, and many other programs of the former National Recreation Association and NRPA. In more recent years the foundation’s endowment portfolio has grown significantly, which has made possible the funding of more than $10 million of NRPA programs and activities. In addition to NRPA, the NRF supports many other not-for-profit organizations and government agencies throughout the United States.  In 2010-2011 grants were made to 36 programs for a total of just under $2 million. 

The mission is “to be a life-enhancing force on the youth of the nation by investing strategically in recreation with a special focus on programs for those who are economically, physically, or mentally disadvantaged.” The NRF gives funding priority to organizations working to coordinate efforts among local, state, and national agencies that address this mission, as well as to programs focusing on outcomes leading to significant social change. The foundation views recreation and the leisure services as a broad and holistic perspective that assists youth-at-risk by encouraging healthy lifestyles for all.