Exuberant and grateful representatives from 100 Coachella Valley nonprofit organizations gathered on July 1 for Anderson Children’s Foundation (ACF) annual distribution of scholarships. ACF supports programs that empower and inspire youth under the age of 18 in our area. Since 1993, the organization has awarded more than $18 million in grants to support 1,263 projects. This year, the selected grantees received a total of $1,432,258 in funding.
The Anderson Children’s Foundation was established by Irene Anderson in 1970 to honor her late husband Guy. Although childless, Irene endeavored to take care of the unmet needs of all children, regardless of their origins.
Diana Schlesinger currently acts as trustee and continues to fulfill Anderson’s legacy. “It’s wonderful to influence so many children,” Schlesinger said. “Thanks to Irene’s vision, young lives are enriched through programs that help them overcome challenges, foster creativity and broaden horizons.”
ACF strives to make its funding accessible to charities, nonprofit organizations, schools, churches and communities. “We have a simple online process for grant applications and avoid lengthy applications and multiple forms,” said Schlesinger. “Since we exclusively serve Coachella Valley, we get to know our grantees and see how the children benefit.”
Brianna UhlhornDirector of Grants and Media at ACF, said, “These organizations appreciate that we see their programs come to life. I can witness a child experiencing a theatrical performance for the first time, or picking up a new musical instrument, or stepping out of their comfort zone at a sleepaway camp. It’s very rewarding.”
Here are just some of the great programs the Anderson Children’s Foundation is supporting this year:
We Can Fish (WCF) coordinates outings for children who might not otherwise experience the joys of fishing and being on the water. They serve the underprivileged and those with special needs, including the physically challenged, at-risk youth and disabled veterans. WCF creates free time for families in a new, dynamic environment.
In September, 52 guests will board a bus on a two-hour fishing expedition to Big Bear. “Then we’ll have lunch and fun activities and finish with an awards ceremony and great parting gifts like shirts, hats, tackle boxes and fishing poles,” he said Carla Rizya, WCF President. “ACF funds allow us to source these items as well as bus transportation. They have given us the opportunity to create a trip of a lifetime.”
Drone Pilot Academy (DFA) knows that today’s kids are growing up around technology, virtual reality and game controllers. Drone flying uses all of these capabilities. “As an instructor, I never have to tell students to focus. They’re laser focused and having a great time,” he said Skip Fredrick’s, DFA founder and chief pilot. “And even the sky isn’t the limit for careers: real estate, farming, filmmaking, the military, urban planning — they all use drones.”
Equipment and training can add up to $2,000 to $3,000. And then there are class locations, insurance, permits, and instructors. “When I heard ACF was bringing this course to the Coachella Valley, I got a rush that felt like a warm blanket on a cold night,” said Fredricks. “Thanks to them, students can now complete boot camp training and take home an FAA license, a vest, a helmet — and a drone.”
Palm Springs Swim Center will add a new timing system, starting blocks and deck anchors giving kids the opportunity to compete in championship meets. Aquatic Supervisor Lindi Mills said: “Competitive swimming teaches many life lessons, such as sportsmanship, winning modestly and losing gracefully. It can also be a path to a bright future.”
local swimmers Ava Otteson and Daniela Scott will soon be participating in Western Zone Championships. “It’s amazing to be so close to my goal,” said Otteson, who hopes to make the 2024 Olympic trials in the 50-meter freestyle.
“The City of Palm Springs is excited to partner with ACF to keep the Olympic dreams alive for our youth swimmers,” said Mills.
Animal Samaritans is an animal shelter and care provider in Indio and Thousand Palms. Her “Summer Camps for Animals” teach children compassion and pet responsibility through live animal presentations, crafts and games. Although there is no registration fee, children receive a t-shirt and goodie bag and are often provided with a lunch. It is important to keep the program free as many children do not have the resources for paid camps.
“It’s heartwarming to know that we sow seeds of kindness in our critter camps,” he said Diana Martinez, humane educator. “The children are over the moon and constantly expressing their love for animals. Thanks to ACF and our camp partners, we were able to bring the program to Desert Hot Springs, Mecca and Thermal.”
Palm Springs Opera Guild will execute “Opera at School” which has been active for 17 years and has more than 25,000 students in the Palm Springs and Desert Sands school districts. Children of all grade levels participate in gatherings with four experienced opera singers and a piano accompanist. You will learn about classical music terms, the different operatic languages and how opera influences music to this day.
“Students are negatively affected by cuts in the music program,” said the managing director of the opera guild. Laurie Baldwin. “We thank ACF for supporting the Guild’s mission: to introduce our young students to opera in an exciting and engaging way.”
Congratulations to this year’s scholarship recipients. To learn more about the Anderson Children’s Foundation, visit www.andersonchildrensfoundation.org.
Sergio Garcia lives in Palm Springs. He enjoys writing about the good people doing great things in the Coachella Valley. Reach him at: email@example.com.