National Recreation Foundation Spotlight

November 1, 2013, Department, by National Recreation and Park Association

The National Recreation Foundation offers grants for recreation programs for at-risk youth. Take a look at some of the most recent recipients.As part of an ongoing series on the National Recreation Foundation (NRF), Parks & Recreation highlights grant recipients for the foundation’s program benefiting at-risk youths. This month features programs from Pennsylvania, Georgia and Illinois.

Byerschool Foundation
Ours for Life College Coach Grant: $45,000
NRF funding has helped to pilot the Ours for Life program, which worked to build the support structures that will ensure students stay on track for college graduation. The Ours for Life program is a product of three years of dialogue and research, and it included the creation of ePortfolios and college plans for every Russell Byers Charter School (RBCS) student. Specifically, NRF funds went toward new positions in the RBCS College Coach team, which led this charge and served as a constant resource for students, alumni and families from the very beginning. By centralizing the academic, extracurricular and developmental history of each student starting at 4 years old, RBCS coaches have been able to effectively work with students, families and teachers to ensure that students progress to the best schools possible to meet their individual needs and talents.

Center for America (CFA)
Grant: $85,000
This project worked with five vocational training and counseling programs that specialize in at-risk youth across America to produce a peer-to-peer communications campaign in which program staff shared with students the personal stories of their success in learning skills to become skilled workers. CFA staff work to use electronic and social media to educate, motivate and empower ordinary Americans to expand vocational skills, entrepreneurship, freedom and prosperity. With this grant, they selected five schools where they will support production work and use video footage to create additional video and audio products. These will be distributed in a national campaign focused on media recommended by the students to reach millions of other at-risk youth who are not aware of similar programs in their communities. The program encouraged students to seek out opportunities that provide attractive pathways to employment, self-respect and independence.

Chicago Project for Violence Prevention
CeaseFire Grant: $90,000
CeaseFire, an initiative of the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention, is a national public health strategy that has been found to reduce shootings and killings. The mission of this organization is to work with community and government partners to reduce violence in all forms, to reduce the rate of killing in the City of Chicago to equal or less than the national rate, and to provide support and guidance to individuals at high risk of involvement in shootings. As such, CeaseFire is well-aligned with the mission of creating opportunities for youth to live and grow in healthier and safer communities by encouraging them to follow a positive lifestyle. The specific population is low-income, at-risk youth and young adults. This is the first year of the NRF grant that supports a Model Site in Chicago’s West Humboldt Park. This program helps work toward CeaseFire’s goals of changing the thinking about violence and how to approach it, and reducing shootings and killings within Chicago.

The National Recreation Foundation and NRPA, along with NRPA’s predecessor organizations, have had a close working relationship since 1919. In addition to NRPA, NRF supports many other not-for-profit organizations and government agencies throughout the United States. In 2011–2012, grants were made to 35 programs for a total of $1.7 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.” 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.