National Recreation Foundation Spotlight

May 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 Texas.

Camp For All Grant—$30,605. The grant is in its third year of funding in order to enhance Houston-based Camp For All’s ropes challenge course, which remains the only universally designed challenge course in the country. Camp For all is a unique, barrier-free camp working in partnership with other nonprofits to enrich the lives of children and adults with challenging illnesses or special needs, as well as their families throughout the year. It includes a fully accessible camping and retreat facility that has been serving children and adults with disabilities and chronic illnesses since 1938 while continuing to provide approximately 68 percent of the cost for each camper to attend. The success of the enhancement of the ropes course will both directly benefit the participants as well as serving as a model which other institutions in the special needs camping industry can replicate.

Colorado UpLift/Model Replication Training Center Grant—$50,000. Colorado UpLift has been serving the Denver metropolitan area since 1982, working to build long-term, life-changing relationships with urban youth. The program teaches youth character values, life skills, enhances their own leadership abilities, and provides them with an opportunity to develop their teamwork skills. Youth who are involved three or more years in the program have achieved a 90 percent rate of high school graduation. The successes of UpLift have been documented leading to replication models launching in four U.S. cities (Orlando, Phoenix, New York, and Portland). To continue extending the program, the NRF is helping provide seed funding to transition the UpLift Model Replication Training Center (UMRTC) from a “virtual” organizations supported by Colorado UpLift resources, to a formal and independent 501c3 organization that will help interested parties nationwide address the complex needs of urban youth to ensure their success. This grant helps secure that the model will be repeated in other areas and continue to support urban youth.

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School/Healthy Lifestyles Grant—$47,092. This is the third year of funding for the Healthy Lifestyles Program at Chicago-based Cristo Rey Jesuit Schools. Cristo Rey consists of 24 college preparatory high schools that serve low-income urban youth across 17 states and the District of Columbia. Healthy Lifestyles is a pilot program that encompasses nutrition, physical activity, and team-building activities in order to help students develop healthy habits that they can then model for their families and communities. Successful programs are replicated to reach all students and their families in many parts of the country.

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 that 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.