Community Foundation to distribute Wilson Foundation child care grants

Rochester Area Community Foundation has been awarded a $384,000 grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation to support small, home-based child care providers through its Small Grants for Small Children program.

RACF will work with the Child Care Council Inc. and Community Action of Orleans and Genesee Inc. to distribute grants of up to $2,000 each to nearly 200 home-based child care providers in Monroe, Genesee and Orleans counties beginning this month, officials said.

Child care providers will be able to use the funds any way they see fit, including helping them reopen or remain open to continue to provide high quality care to children.

“In-home child care has always been in demand. But the pandemic has more families looking at home-based options as a way to minimize their children’s exposure to large numbers of other children and adults,” RACF CEO Jennifer Leonard said in a statement. “This sudden need by families during an already difficult time has placed a great deal of strain on home care providers who want to help.”

In-home programs that serve between three and 12 children are most challenged right now, officials said. They are ineligible for many of the federal and state supports available to small businesses, which is exacerbated by the fact that most programs supporting small business do not address child care.

The grant is part of the Wilson Foundation’s $1 million investment to support the small, home-based child care providers across Western New York.

“Child care is essential now more than ever,” said Amber Slichta, vice president of programs at the Wilson Foundation. “Small, home-based child care providers rarely qualify for support and, in turn, do not view themselves as small businesses. It’s important that we continue to fill these gaps and uplift these providers, as they are often the only option for working families in rural areas and urban neighborhoods.”

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Foundation launches kids’ sports campaign in Rochester, Western New York

The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation has launched a campaign in Rochester to encourage kids to participate in sports.

“Don’t Retire, Kid” is a national program formulated by the Aspen Institute’s Project Play and debuted on ESPN’s Sunday morning SportsCenter on Aug. 4. The program’s goal is to make sports accessible to all kids, regardless of ZIP code or ability.

The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation has adopted that initiative and framework with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo to engage the Western New York communities around the importance of sports in children’s lives.

Some 62 percent of kids do not play sports today, up from 55 percent in 2008, officials noted, and on average, kids quit most sports by age 11.

“Kids are dropping out of sports at an alarming rate nationwide and in the two regions we serve,” said David Egner, president and CEO of the foundation. “Over the past several years we have worked with numerous partners to support and build up places, programs and resources to help parents, coaches and the community at large get kids active and change the culture of the youth sports system. This campaign and Project Play initiatives further these efforts in an important, timely and impactful way.”

The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation has focused its grantmaking to support capacity needs for local youth sport programs, as well as capital needs, to provide the critical places and environments that are necessary to create greater access to sports, particularly in underserved communities.

In 2018, the foundation launched “Built to Play” in partnership with the Tony Hawk Foundation and KABOON! to increase the development of skateparks and play spaces across Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The foundation also is piloting youth sport equipment sharing and lending, as well as various coaches training programs.

“Access and interest are not the only issues that our communities face either,” Egner said. “Overall costs also negatively impact participation rates and weigh heavily on the families and children that bear these burdens.”

On Sept. 17 and 18, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation will sponsor the Aspen Institute’s annual Project Play Summit in Detroit. Leaders from Western New York are expected to participate in panels and discuss solutions for youth in their regions.

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Youth recreation programs receive Rochester Area Community Foundation grants

action-active-athletes-264312Rochester Area Community Foundation will award nearly $330,000 in grants to 20 local youth sports and recreation programs from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Legacy Fund for Youth Sports.

The grants range from $5,500 to $25,000 and support projects that will have a direct impact on more than 6,500 youth in Monroe, Ontario, Seneca and Wayne counties. RACF received 82 proposals, including 19 from outside Monroe County, and requested a combined total of more than $1.5 million.

“The amount of interest in this first grant round for youth sports was impressive,” RACF President and CEO Jennifer Leonard said in a news release. “We are honored to further Ralph Wilson’s love of sports by introducing new and improved opportunities to as many children as possible.”

The inaugural grants were made possible by the $5 million endowed fund established in 2016 by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation at RACF. Beginning this year, the fund will provide annual and ongoing grants to support and strengthen the quality, quantity and accessibility of regional youth sports and recreation programs.

The nonprofits to receive funding for youth sports-related programs and projects are:

• AutismUp: $5,500; A “Youth Sports Series” will provide 60 youth with autism and related disabilities a chance to learn the language, rules and skills of a variety of sports (basketball, soccer, swimming) at their own pace and with individualized support. Coaches will be trained to support the unique learning and behavior needs of participants.
• Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester Inc.: $24,850; The “Weekend Free Play Zone” program on Saturdays will provide youth the chance to participate in alternative sports and activities to that are oftentimes inaccessible due to fee-based restrictions. Activities will include dance instruction, golf lessons, bowling, fencing, tennis and others. The Genesee Street clubs also will allow non-members to access Saturday programming to encourage them to join.
• Center for Disability Rights: $15,356; Support for the Rochester Rookies, a wheelchair and ambulatory track and field sports program for disabled athletes (5 to 23 years old) that provides a customized approach focusing on each athlete’s interests.
• Coordinated Child Development Program Inc.: $7,698; A “Partnership for Play” program allows sharing of the CCDP school-age program in Canandaigua, Ontario County, and the Salvation Army school-age program less than a mile away. During 42 weeks of the school year, nine different sports will be offered at both locations to introduce sport sampling and free play to 68 children.
• EquiCenter Inc.: $24,500; The “Horseplay” program will provide a non-traditional recreation program to 117 youth ages 5-14 years old at the Mendon ranch, combining life lessons and skills using interactive play and learning with horses. This approach combines equine-assisted learning with the exploration of nature, along with structured and free play.
• Girl Scouts of Western NY Inc.: $25,000; Offers 550 girls the chance to experience and participate in archery and a ropes course, with certified instructors, during their time at Camp Piperwood in Perinton. Also includes archery and ropes training for Girl Scout leaders to address a shortage of trained instructors.
• HOPE Academy: $9,910; Based out of the City of Rochester’s Flint Street Recreation Center, this program will provide at least 10 scholarships for athletes ages 8 to 16 from low-income households in the city to participate in Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball for 12 months, and cover the necessary expenses to participate.
• Ibero-American Development Corp.: $14,720; Providing play activities in the El Camino neighborhood, including six weeks of supervised play (three hours a day, five days each week) at Conkey Corner Park and pop-up play at several pre-identified streets and sites. A neighborhood survey will provide data on interests and utilization by area youth and families.
• NYSARC, Inc. Wayne County Chapter: $25,000; Based on the “Rec on the Move” model used by the City of Rochester’s Department of Recreation and Youth Services, the Free Activities and Sports Trailer Program (FAST) will be a trailer fully stocked with equipment to create an inclusive mobile sports and activities center to serve 2,400 high-needs youth, ages 7 to 15, across Wayne County. Recreation opportunities would include collaboration with 12 partner agencies.
• Pop Warner Little Scholars Inc.: $25,000; Refurbish 530 football helmets to increase youth safety for the Rochester Rams from Rochester’s School 33. Also includes coaching football certification costs and transportation for youth to games.
• ROC E6 Inc.: $8,975; In partnership with the Rochester Knighthawks and several other lacrosse groups, the community youth sports program will provide 200 youth ages 6-18 in the City of Rochester with the opportunity to play lacrosse through four different sessions throughout the year, while also providing mentoring and educational tools.
• Rochester Area Fencing Foundation Inc.: $25,000; The program, in collaboration with the Rochester Fencing Club, will provide 24 weeks of after-school fencing instruction to 40 students from Canandaigua Academy and Middle School during the 2018-19 school year. Also includes purchase of equipment and substantial discount for entry to two tournaments.
• ROCovery Fitness Inc.: $15,040; Provides addiction recovery support through development of a youth fitness program for 25 to 50 youth, ages 13 to 21, in collaboration with Villa of Hope. The activities will include hikes, bike riding, group running, basketball, soccer, baseball and yoga.
• St. John Bosco Schools: $14,749; Enhance the athletic program at the East Rochester-based Catholic school so that students can participate in Section Five sports and adults can receive coaching, first aid, CPR and injury prevention training. The project also includes the purchase of sports equipment and materials needed for competitive play.
• St. John Fisher College: $21,650; Introduce a “Teaching to Initiate Play” pilot program to empower youth to develop skills for engaging in independent play and for organizing team play with peers through the college’s summer basketball camp and in fifth- and sixth-grade physical education classes in the Gates Chili Central School district. Roughly 830 youth will participate. Scholarships will be provided for youth from low-income households to participate in the college’s summer program, including support for transportation.
• St. Paul’s Lutheran School: $20,000; Encourage sport sampling with opportunities for free play for 100 to 140 youth ages 4-14 in North Greece, Hilton and Hamlin areas in partnership with the local town recreation departments.
• Seneca Falls Development Corp.: $5,840; The “Team Active8 Youth Program” will provide a series of non-traditional sports, games and activities for up to 80 youth in third through fifth grades in Seneca Falls, Seneca County, over an eight-week span in Fall 2018 and again in Spring 2019. Activities will be overseen by the recreation and community center staff.
• Seneca Sailing Academy Inc.: $6,524; Supports 13 scholarships for youth sailing lessons on Seneca Lake, including transportation and lunch. Plan also includes launching a community outreach campaign to promote the opportunities.
• South East Area Coalition: $8,690; Work with Rochester neighborhood groups to paint playful sidewalks around two parks, which will act as a natural way to lead area youth to play spaces. At the park will be a toy library with balls, bases, Frisbees, jump ropes and other toys for youth and families to engage in play together.
• Village of Phelps: $25,000; Supports building a safe and innovative playground for 1,375 youth, ages 2 to 13, to experience free play by replacing the deteriorating and outdated playground equipment on the grounds of the community center and library.

RACF, collaborates with philanthropists and community partners to improve the quality of life for people who live in the eight-county Rochester/Finger Lakes region through its leadership and strategic grant-making. RACF has distributed more than $440 million in grants and scholarships since its founding in 1972.

The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation is a grant-making organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. Prior to Ralph Wilson’s passing in 2014, he requested that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a lifelong generosity of spirit by funding the foundation.

The foundation has a grant-making capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period.

“This first round of grants will be a game-changer for programs that do great work with small budgets,” said Simeon Banister, interim vice president of community programs at the Community Foundation. “We expect to distribute more than $400,000 next year with hopes that more programs will be offered, more youth will be able to participate and that the benefits of training coaches will pay off.”

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
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Wilson Foundation to spend millions on enhancing children’s play

Skateboarding phenom Tony Hawk with kids at the opening of a new skatepark. (Photo provided)
Skateboarding phenom Tony Hawk with kids at the opening of a new skatepark.
(Photo provided)

The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation will invest up to $5 million in the region to provide more opportunities for kid-driven free play.

The “Built to Play” project is a collaboration between RCWJRF, the Tony Hawk Foundation and KaBOOM! that is designed to give children and youth across Western New York—including parts of the Rochester metro area—and Southeast Michigan more opportunities for free play through the creation of  interactive public play spaces.

“Our vision with Built to Play is to create more opportunities and places of recreation that are owned and embraced by the kids and families they serve,” said Jim Boyle, vice president of programs & communications for RCWJRF. “The Tony Hawk Foundation and KaBOOM! are experts in their respective fields and will do a wonderful job leading these collaborative efforts in our regions. We look forward to the day that more children within these communities can make active play a part of their daily life through these play spaces and skateparks.”

To fund and operate the initiative, RCWJRF will invest up to $5 million in each region over the next several years. The funding will provide grassroots groups and nonprofits with support to create and maintain the play spaces within their neighborhoods.

Over the next several months, KaBOOM! and the Tony Hawk Foundation will begin to immerse themselves in both regions to engage potential applicants to help guide them through the process and steps to create the spaces. The three funding opportunities within “Built to Play” are:

• KaBOOM! Play Everywhere Challenge (Up to 20 winners total) – Design competition which encourages installations constructed to integrate play into everyday life and unexpected places (such as on sidewalks, in vacant lots, at bus stops, in open streets and beyond). More details on the application process will be announced in early March. Through RCWJRF funding, KaBOOM! will award grants to the challenge winners in August.
• KaBOOM! Unique Playground Builds (Two in each region) – Hands-on design and build day events for kids, parents, and community members to give ideas and input for their dream playground. A team of world-class designers will turn the community’s dreams into reality with custom playground designs. The design phase will take place between May and August 2018 and the community-builds will take place from July to October 2018.
• Tony Hawk Foundation Skateparks (Up to five in first phase, up to 20 total) – Through RCWJRF funding, THF will offer matching/challenge grants to assist in the construction of public, nonprofit skateparks, giving youth the opportunity to be active whether they’re riding on skateboards, BMX bikes, scooters or rollerblades. THF will begin outreach and announce the opening of applications later this spring for the first phase.

“We know that play is essential for the well-being of kids and our communities,” said Roxane Rucker, vice president, community impact at KaBOOM!. “That’s why we are thrilled to be working with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation as part of the ‘Built to Play’ initiative to help create play spaces in Southeast Michigan and Western New York. Through our work together, we are helping kids get the playful childhood experiences they deserve and need to grow up healthy, resilient and ready for life.”

The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect Ralph Wilson Jr.’s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise.

Prior to his passing in 2014, Wilson requested that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the foundation that bears his name. The foundation has a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires Jan. 8, 2035.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
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