20th Anniversary Spotlight: Community Enhancement Partners
Over the last 20 years, the Ripken Foundation has expanded its efforts to address the needs of the underserved youth we impact throughout the year. In this month’s spotlight, we would like to highlight our Community Enhancement Project partners. Launched in 2014, the goal was to engage employees of major corporate partners and to revitalize community spaces in need of updating or repair. With the help of Home Depot, Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF), Niagara Cares, Under Armour, and UnitedHealthcare, we have been able to enhance fitness, nutrition, and wellness programming at our program sites across the country, while also giving opportunities to volunteer in the communities they work and live.
Through our Community Enhancement Project Initiative, we have been able to impact over 100,000 students, families, volunteers, teachers, and coaches at 60 schools and community-based organizations. “NCEF has been a proud partner of the Ripken Foundation's Community Enhancement Project initiative. In 2020, with the help of the Foundation, NCEF provided much-needed support to Youth Haven, a local emergency and residential shelter for boys and girls ages 6-19 who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment in Naples, FL. By revitalizing their community garden and creating a clean, safe space for kids who live at Youth Haven, it provided them the opportunity to participate in healthy, positive activities. Giving kids this kind of opportunity shows them our commitment to their success in and out of the classroom and teaches them life skills, like respect, communication, and teamwork throughout the year,” said Maria Jimenez-Lara, CEO of NCEF.
Volunteerism and engagement are very important parts of our corporate partnerships which allow us to focus on what is important to our partners and their employees. “UnitedHealthcare is proud to partner with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation to address childhood obesity by enhancing fitness spaces at schools in underserved communities through the Team8 Tour initiative,” said Olivia Jefferson, vice president, UnitedHealthcare Social Responsibility. The Team8 Tour is a national program that has helped the Foundation to renovate or activate over 375,000 square feet of fitness, outdoor, and nutrition spaces over the last four years.
The Ripken Foundation’s Community Enhancement Project Initiative has been so successful because of the commitment of our corporate partners. Since 2017, Niagara Cares and their employees have helped us to update fitness spaces at five schools and five community-based organizations in seven different states. “Our partnership with Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, has enabled us to make an impact and improve access to healthy and active lifestyles for youth in our communities,” said Kristen Venick, Director of Niagara Cares.
In addition to healthy living spaces, this program has included: constructing and renovating community gardens; outfitting school weight rooms and food pantries; cooking and serving healthy meals; providing sports equipment and sports-themed youth development programming; and hosting sports clinics. Together, we have distributed over 1,300 meals and take-home kits to students lacking health and nutrition resources and more than 6,000 pantry and supply items. "We want to thank our partners at Home Depot, NCEF, Niagara Cares, Under Armour, and UnitedHealthcare for helping us to make an indelible impact and create meaningful connections in the communities we serve throughout the country, " said Steve Salem, President & CEO of the Ripken Foundation.