What do we do?
SGF’s mission is to make a difference in the lives of children who are homeless, refugees or exposed to violence or abuse. Each summer, through the SGF Summer Camp Scholarship Program, dozens of children are able to benefit from the same enriching summer camp experiences that the more fortunate among us simply take for granted. This opportunity can be nothing short of transformational, both for the children and for their parents or caregivers.
How do we operate?
Since its founding in 2001, SGF has operated as a small, responsive, and flexible foundation that is all-volunteer, honest, and transparent. We save money by having no fixed office, no salaried staff, and by communicating primarily (and also infrequently) by email in order to preserve donor dollars, respect our contributors’ time and privacy, and save trees. We do not send out repeated emails, fancy mailings, or make phone calls that interrupt anyone’s dinner. Virtually 100% of all donations received go directly to helping children. The way we operate enables SGF to help children directly while supporting their moms or other caregivers and the communities in which they live.
Who do we help?
The children SGF helps have lived through more hardship than any human being deserves. Specifically, each and every child who receives SGF Summer Camp Scholarship funding comes from demonstrably adverse circumstances, be it child physical or sexual abuse, exposure to domestic violence, living with substantial community violence, homelessness, or having fled their country of origin due to war or political conflict.
A substantial proportion of the children we serve are living in foster care settings or under supervision by child protective services, or are staying in emergency domestic violence shelters or post-crisis transitional housing. Many of these kids, especially those living in crisis shelters, no longer have a place they can call home. Agency staff, parents, and the children themselves tell us that without the opportunity to attend camp, many – and perhaps most – of these kids would spend their summers indoors, parked in front of a TV or playing video games. Clearly, these kids deserve a break, which camp can easily provide.
For these children, the opportunity to go to camp for a week or more of fun, safety, or even just simple respite, can be life-changing. In camp, the children get to make friends, learn to swim and play other sports, grow in confidence, practice valuable negotiation and leadership skills, and get a glimpse of a world that might actually be within their reach if given the chance.
Who else benefits?
SGF Summer Camp Scholarships benefit more than just the children who attend camp. SGF funding also provides an opportunity for these children’s moms (or other caregivers) to find and keep a job, further their own education, or just worry a bit less knowing that their child is spending at least part of the summer in a safe and enriching environment.
How are children and camps chosen?
SGF does not work alone. We do not operate our own camp, and we don’t even choose the camps our scholarship kids attend. The children we support each summer come to us through referral from domestic violence agencies, child welfare agencies, and selected overnight camps that have a respected track record in welcoming and nurturing at-risk children. And although all the work we do is on behalf of individual children and their parents or caregivers, SGF scholarships are paid directly to agencies or camps, not to individuals.
Prospective camps are identified, evaluated, and selected by each child’s parent/caregiver or case worker – the people who are in the best position to choose the camp best suited to each child. After securing the best (discounted) rate possible for a given child, the agency or camp applies to SGF for “gap” funding to cover the remainder of the camp tuition. Necessary and at times sensitive detail must be shared to ensure eligibility. In turn, each and every application is reviewed by SGF Trustees using a rigorous and confidential process that ensures that SGF’s established criteria for camp scholarship eligibility are met. We also ask that the parent or caregiver furnish at least a small part of the camp expense – even if it is just a very modest contribution (for example, supplying lunches or providing a swimsuit). This process ensures both buy-in and active partnership, and underscores the importance of providing a “hand up” as opposed to a “hand out.”
Who are our partners? We work in close partnership with agencies and camp that have a proactive and established track record of helping children. Most of the camps we work with reduce their own rates in order to accommodate our “SGF campers.”
In recent years, we have worked closely with the following agencies and camps:
Domestic Violence Agencies:
- REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, Waltham, MA (14 children in 2017)
- The Second Step, Newton, MA (28 children in 2017)
- Building Bridges Through Music, Lynn, MA (3 children in 2017)
Child Welfare Agencies:
- Department of Children and Families, Commonwealth of Massachusetts (6 children in 2017)
Overnight Camps (located in Maine):
- Agassiz Village (5 children in 2017)
- Camp Winona (9 children in 2017)
We expect to work with most of our existing and recent camp and agency partners again in the coming years, and anticipate requests to work with additional camps, which we would gladly consider.
How does SGF fund its camp scholarships? SGF relies primarily on individual donations, which are managed and invested carefully (using socially-responsive, ethical investments) to ensure maximal dividends and returns. We invite – and personally acknowledge – donations that celebrate or memorialize a happy event (a birth, engagement, marriage, graduation, or the like), or alternatively a sad event (for example, a death). We certainly welcome contributions at any time during the year.
In addition to individual donations, some donors allocate funds to SGF each year from family foundations, gifts of appreciated stock, bequests, and other charitable sources. SGF is also a member of the Amazon Smile program, which directs 0.5% of each registered purchase to SGF. In past years, SGF has raised funds through music-oriented events (a Longwood Symphony benefit and a youth band festival), innovative sales (an auction site called “Steve-Bay,” an Amazon bookstore called SGF Book Nook Plus, and sales of merchandise including SGF shirts, tote bags and mugs), and grass-roots initiatives such as bottle and can drives, community fairs, and monster-sized yard sales.
The SGF/Winona Camp Partnership: From the very beginning, SGF has had an active partnership with Winona Camps for Boys — the camp Steve Glidden attended and loved so much. Winona has come to rely on SGF for vital funding so that it can continue to welcome New England-based children who have refugee status as well as other children from across the US who come from environments of enormous disadvantage and need.
Here’s how the SGF/Winona Camp Partnership works: loyal Winona alumni contribute funds to SGF that they designate for the Winona partnership. Winona then applies on behalf of selected individual children, whose applications are scrutinized by SGF Trustees in the same way all other applications are reviewed, and then funded through the Partnership. We are proud to continue this close relationship with Winona as we move toward the future.
What is SGF’s tax status?
Established in 2001, the Steve Glidden Foundation is a tax-exempt public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. SGF’s Federal ID number is 04-3565429. SGF is also registered with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Division of Non-Profit Organizations / Public Charities. Because SGF has no paid staff and minimal expenses, every dollar donated is directed to the foundation’s mission, and not to operating, fund raising or other overhead costs (except for postage when there is no electronic alternative). Contributions to SGF are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law, and personal donation acknowledgements that comply with applicable federal and state guidelines are sent out promptly.