The Brookfield Parks and Recreation Commission plans to ask the village board to give its blessing to creating a nonprofit parks and recreation foundation to raise money and provide opportunities for local families in financial need a way to participate in before- and after-school programs, summer camps and other programming they couldn’t otherwise afford.
Recreation Director Stevie Ferrari pitched the idea of a foundation to the commission last year after having had some experience working with them in the past. When she was at Lockport Township Park District, Ferrari said a foundation served a similar purpose in helping families afford programs and also to fund large capital projects.
Village trustees could get a chance to discuss the proposal at their committee of the whole meeting scheduled for May 24. Ferrari said the Parks and Recreation Commission is to further discuss language for the foundation’s mission, philosophy and objectives at their meeting on May 18. If commissioners come to a consensus on those matters, they will send it along to the village board.
Such a foundation, which would be a 501c3 entity, would have its own board of directors. A similar foundation, Beautify Brookfield, was created in 2012 to raise funds to support public art installations and other initiatives of the Brookfield Beautification Commission.
“The foundations are focused on one or two large fundraising events annually,” said Ferrari, who said she and recreation commissioners have made sure the new commission would not compete with or overlap with the mission of Beautify Brookfield. “They will have very specific missions and objectives.”
Parks and Rec commissioners Julie Narimatsu and Kyle Whitehead have been spearheading the foundation initiative for the group. Narimatsu was appointed to the commission last July and Whitehead last September.
“I’ve always been interested in how many families have access to our programs, especially summer camp,” said Narimatsu. “When Kyle joined the commission, we started the process of figuring out how to start the process [of forming a foundation].”
Whitehead, who works for a nonprofit, put together a memo for his fellow commissioners to provide background, which they have discussed a couple times, most recently at their meeting in April, but there’s still more they need to understand.
The memo indicates there is a definite need for financial assistance for families. The Oddfellows Lodge donates between $500 and $1,000 annually to put toward recreation program “scholarships,” an amount that’s not enough to meet the need, said Whitehead.
“There are families who are stretching themselves for [before and after-school programs] and camps because they know how much it’s benefiting their kids and families,” said Whitehead.
As the village increases fees in the future to cover the costs of staffing and running programs, those program costs will also increase.
“It’ll be easier for us to approve those fee increases and the village to implement them if we have a foundation providing support for our lowest-income families who will be most affected by those increases,” Whitehead said.
Whitehead said it could take several months for a foundation’s paperwork to obtain 501c3 status to make it through IRS channels, but that the commission could continue to work out details of how it would serve residents.
“The first step was to get initial buy-in from commissioners and village staff and establish a roadmap,” said Whitehead. “But there are still several more steps to take.”