NORWALK, Conn. — An expanded partnership between Rite Aid Healthy Futures (Healthy Futures) and SeriousFun Children’s Network (SeriousFun) will advance critical new racial and health equity programs, helping ensure kids from all backgrounds can grow and thrive at camp this summer and beyond.
A new $3 million grant over three years from Rite Aid Healthy Futures will support SeriousFun’s network of medical specialty camps and programs, funding a robust package of strategies and programs focused on health and wellness, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) — all to positively impact the lives and futures of children with serious medical conditions.
This marks the second major grant from Healthy Futures, a public charity affiliated with Rite Aid, to SeriousFun, a global community of 30 camps and programs serving children with serious illnesses and their families, totally free of charge.
SeriousFun will use the grant funding to increase diverse representation among staff and campers, as well as to develop DEI-related educational and training programs for camps, programs, staff, and volunteers. Member camps may use funds to support staff and camper recruitment programs, camper transportation costs, and to provide additional stipends to staff members, as well as other DEI-related efforts. The grant will also support camp pharmacy and medical supplies, as well as mental health training programs for medical leaders, investment in camp medical staff resilience and retention programs, and ongoing COVID-19 safety guidance.
“SeriousFun Children’s Network continues to adapt, expand, and innovate its programs to deliver relevant and life-changing experiences for children with serious medical conditions,” said Matt DeCamara, Executive Director of Rite Aid Healthy Futures. “Our partnership will help address and accelerate a range of needs and opportunities that will fortify the camps’ capabilities and also support the Network’s extraordinary commitment to inclusive care and joy-filled childhoods despite the challenges associated with serious medical conditions.”
This year’s grant builds off a previous grant to SeriousFun which supported COVID-19 response efforts including the creation of the COVID-19 Operations Guide for SeriousFun Camps prepared in advance of camp re-openings; enhanced safety and medical needs at camps; increased DEI efforts and programs; as well as family programming and development and sustainability efforts.
“As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we see the impact that increased levels of isolation and uncertainty have had on children with serious illness and their families,” said Blake Maher, Chief Executive Officer for SeriousFun. “As we further extend our reach to support underserved and marginalized communities, we foresee demand for our programs and the much-needed connections they offer to be greater than ever. Serious illness knows no boundaries, and it’s our privilege to continue offering children safe places to find belonging, experience joy, and realize their potential.”
SeriousFun camps serve regions that include many of the country’s largest cities and major Rite Aid communities, such as New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Detroit. The six primary SeriousFun camps included in the grant are: Camp Korey in Mount Vernon, Wash.; Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne, N.Y.; Flying Horse Farms in Mount Gilead, Ohio; North Star Reach in Pinckney, Mich.; The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Conn.; and The Painted Turtle in Lake Hughes, Calif.
SeriousFun will use the $3 million grant over three years to holistically address the needs of the campers, family, caregivers, staff, medical professionals, and volunteers who are part of their mission.
Funding is divided into five categories:
- U.S. Camp initiatives, including family programming grants, summer staff diversity grants, camper diversity grants, camp pharmacy and medical supplies, and camp development
- Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, including development of a Network DEI Strategy and a DEI Education and Training Series for SeriousFun camps, programs, staff, and board members
- Health, wellness and safety initiatives, including camper mental health training for medical leaders, camp medical staff resilience and retention programs, and COVID-19 safety guidance
- Strategic Network initiatives, including internal and external conferences as well as expert and thought leadership efforts
- Development and marketing initiatives, including matching gifts, organizational awareness, and event support.