Funding from local partners offers financial relief for summer camp and summer school enrichment

Eugene, Ore., June 24, 2021 - A partnership between the Eugene Family YMCA and Oregon Community Foundation, local school districts, Y members and donors means that 2021 summer camps and summer school enrichment programs are tuition free for families.

"On the heels of a global pandemic that created so much stress for working families, it is an absolute pleasure to waive the cost to families of summer care," said Holly Kriz Anderson, Youth Development Director for the Eugene Family YMCA. "It feels incredible to give the gift of fun in-person summer experiences for children after a difficult year of isolation as well as expand our financial assistance program to working families who juggled multiple roles for their kids throughout the pandemic."

The Y, with funding from Eugene School District 4J and Oregon Community Foundation, is offering full-day summer camps for children at its main facility, 2055 Patterson Street, and Lane County Fairgrounds, 796 West 13th Avenue. In addition, the Y is providing summer enrichment during summer school in the Springfield and South Lane school districts.

"This historic opportunity for families is meant to provide relief after a year+ of distance learning and juggling work through periods of incredible stress and isolation," said Eugene Family YMCA CEO Brian Steffen. "We are so grateful for the generosity of Oregon Community Foundation, our local school districts and donors who made this possible."

Federal funding to school districts for summer learning means that the Y, as well as dozens of other organizations, received funding to run either enrichment programs after summer school or full-day summer camps. Oregon Community Foundation's $373,000 grant offsets the shortfall for staffing these programs and ensures that every family receives no-cost summer programs instead of only those families within the designated district.

"We want to support giving kids their best chance to succeed academically, socially, physically and emotionally when they return to school in the fall," said John Moriarty, Senior Program Officer for Oregon Community Foundation. "We know that high-quality programs like the Y's are exactly what children need this summer to set them up for success. Offering programs at no cost to participants means that more families can take advantage of the enrichment their children desperately need."

The American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund provided nearly $122 billion to states and school districts and requires that states invest at least $1.2 billion on evidence-based summer enrichment programs.

The Y is a recognized leader in summer programming and helping to prevent "summer slide," when children fall behind academically because they are not engaged in environments that drive their curiosity and challenge their minds. 

Summer slide disproportionately affects minority youth.

Not only does summer learning loss during elementary school account for two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading between low-income children and their middle-income peers by ninth grade, but a lack of activity means that minority children gain weight up to twice as fast during the unstable months of the summer as during the school year, according to the National Summer Learning Association.

Experts predict that distance learning during COVID-19 closures have already resulted in learning loss---dubbed "COVID slide." A summer of inactivity and lack of engagement could compound the educational toll.

"We want to give all kids opportunities to be active socially, physically and academically this summer," said Cydney Vandercar, interim superintendent of Eugene School District 4J. "High-quality programs like the Y's get kids moving, learning and connecting-just what they need this summer to set them up for success. Offering programs free for 4J students will help give more families access to the enrichment their children need."

YMCA families who have pre-paid for summer programs can request a refund or apply their tuition as a donation to the Y. Families who have not yet paid will not be billed. Families are invited to request financial assistance if needed for the $50 weekly deposit fee for registration.

Donations from families ensure access to other critical Y programs that help individuals rebuild strength after a cancer diagnosis, prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes and provide financial assistance for membership, swim lessons and so much more to ensure that everyone has access to the Y despite financial barriers.  

"Your Y is grateful that so many partners are working together to support families and children as we emerge from COVID-19," said Danielle Uhlhorn, Chief Development Officer of the Eugene Family YMCA. "It truly takes a village to provide the breadth of programs and services the Y offers throughout Lane County and make them available to everyone regardless of financial barriers."


About the Eugene Family YMCA

The Eugene Family YMCA is one of the region's leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Each year across Lane County, the Y engages more than 18,000 people regardless of age, gender, income or background--- to nurture the potential of children, teens and seniors; improve health and well-being; and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. In 2020, the Eugene Family YMCA awarded $413,506 in financial assistance. The YMCA has been serving the Eugene-area since 1887.

About Oregon Community Foundation

Oregon Community Foundation puts donated money to work in Oregon - more than $100 million in grants and scholarships annually. Since 1973, OCF grantmaking, research, advocacy and community-advised solutions have helped individuals, families, businesses, and organizations create charitable funds to improve lives for all Oregonians. Impactful giving - time, talent, and resources from many generous Oregonians - creates measurable change. Throughout 2020, OCF responded quickly and urgently - distributing a record-setting $220 million in charitable dollars to more than 3,000 nonprofits throughout Oregon working to address urgent needs, stabilize communities and prepare for long-term recovery in Oregon. OCF donors responded to the magnitude of need, as reflected in a 44% increase in donor advised fund grantmaking from the previous year. For more information, please visit:

June 24, 2021