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The Walmart Foundation has revealed more than $20 million in grants to six nonprofit organizations nationwide that will enable children to have smarter, healthier and more productive summers. The grants will help expand nutrition, learning and employment programs for elementary, middle and high school students in 350 communities throughout summer 2012. Among the grant recipients are YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP), Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) and Brandeis University.
“School may be out, but the need for healthy meals and engaging activity continues during the summer,” explained Dr. Michele Borba, a children’s health and development expert and author of 22 parenting and educational books. “For children who lack access to these essentials, summer can result in permanent setbacks in health and academic achievement. Parents and caregivers of school-age children need to be aware of this risk and look for opportunities in their communities to keep kids healthy and engaged throughout the summer.”
Specifically, the grants will provide:
• Healthy Meals: $6.5 million to help Y-USA and the NRPA expand their reach and serve more than 10 million meals to 160,000 children in low-income and underserved areas.
• Learning Programs: More than $8 million to the NSLA, ICP and BELL to support structured summer learning programs for almost 16,000 students that aim to increase learning, reading and classroom participation when school starts again.
• Summer Jobs: $5 million to support youth employment programs and provide access to job opportunities and academic enrichment to nearly 3,000 inner-city youth in Phoenix; New York,; Hartford, Conn.; Philadelphia; Chicago; Detroit; and Los Angeles. The summer jobs initiative is led by Brandeis University.
The Summer Jobs grant responds to the call to action issued by President Obama for the private and public sectors to join with the Administration in helping to address record unemployment among America’s youth. The initiative, “Summer Jobs+,” urges business leaders and communities to work together to create summer jobs and other employment opportunities for low-income youth this year. A report from the White House Council for Community Solutions found that greater collaboration between governments, grant makers and nonprofits is crucial to educating and preparing young people for jobs.
“Summer is a critical time for the continued health and development of our nation’s youth,” said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Walmart Foundation, part of Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. “We know that providing access to meals, learning programs and job opportunities during the summer months will enable kids to return to school healthy, prepared and ready to succeed. By working closely with our nonprofit partners, we can help kids have better summers and ultimately, better lives.”
The summer meals grants are part of a $2 billion commitment by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation to alleviate hunger in the United States through 2015.