2021 Annual Report | The Fresh Air Fund

Imagine the

For 145 years, The Fresh Air Fund has shown that a summer can change a child’s life.

In 2021, our creativity and commitment to New York City children made it possible for them to safely have fun, learn in the outdoors and rediscover the extraordinary feeling of being a kid in the summertime.

Our Impact

90% of youth said The Fresh Air Fund helped them feel more active and healthy

200+ 18-24 year-olds were counselors. Over 50 were Fresh Air alums!

86% of caregivers said their child is more open to trying new things

1,163 s’mores were enjoyed at Family Wellness

330 frisbees were given out at Family Wellness

83% of youth reported wanting to take better care of the environment

1,340 books were given to Fresh Air kids

85% of youth reported feeling more confident

Letters from

Chairman’s Message

In 2021, as we planned for our second summer of the pandemic, we knew it was essential that New York City children had the opportunity to learn, play and grow....

Executive Director’s Report

For yet another year, the historic pandemic disrupted the lives of New York City’s children. For yet another summer, The Fresh Air Fund knew that children needed a safe place...

Chairman’s Message

In 2021, as we planned for our second summer of the pandemic, we knew it was essential that New York City children had the opportunity to learn, play and grow. Although our traditional sleepaway programs were on hold, we found ways to support the bond between host families and Fresh Air children with our Friendly Towns Connect program. Children were able to visit camp with their families for a much-needed respite from the city in our Family Wellness program, and our Summer Spaces program provided a safe environment in children’s neighborhoods for them to play outdoors and to experience enriching programs which inspired and engaged them.

Our young people participated in the expanded Fresh Air Summer Teen Academy with credentialing courses in environmental education, entrepreneurship, video game design and architecture and urban design. The virtual presentation I attended by the teens and instructors from the Design Studio program in partnership with PennPraxis at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design was very impressive. The students and instructors shared how engaging the hands-on projects on Governors Island were, along with an intensive virtual curriculum.

In 2022, we are continuing the best of our new programs created during the pandemic, while also welcoming children back to Friendly Towns and Fund camps on a limited basis, with critical safety protocols in place.

We offer our special thanks to Wendy Flanagan, Interim Executive Director and Board President, for her steadfast leadership and for stepping in during our search for a new Chief Executive Officer.

Thanks to all of you, our circle of friends, volunteers, supporters and community partners, for providing New York City children with life-changing and transformative experiences. Together we will help our children imagine the possibilities.


William P. Lauder, Chairman

Executive Director’s Report

For yet another year, the historic pandemic disrupted the lives of New York City’s children. For yet another summer, The Fresh Air Fund knew that children needed a safe place to play outside in the fresh air. They needed new experiences and new friends, and they needed to embrace some of the magic of summer.

Armed with the experience we gained in Summer 2020, we continued to reimagine summer at The Fresh Air Fund. We built upon and expanded our in-person Summer Spaces and teen programs, and for those children who could not participate in person, we brought the outside inside with our virtual day camp and new Friendly Towns Connect program.

Now, we are looking forward to Summer 2022 and a return to our traditional overnight programs: camp at Sharpe Reservation and Camp Junior and visits with host families, while keeping the best of our New York City-based programs. Children have suffered the most in these last two years, and the need for opportunities to get outside and have new experiences has never been greater.

As an organization, we have continued to engage in understanding the actions we need to take to become an anti-racist organization. With equity as a guiding principle at the core of our work across the organization, we will continue to uplift and invest in the lives of our young people and ensure they have access to enriching summer experiences and youth development programs.

Our work would not be possible without our generous supporters and partners. Thank you for continuing to stand by New York City’s children with us.


Wendy R. Flanagan, Interim Executive Director

Our Programs

Where we showed off our hula-hooping skills

Summer Spaces provided fun, free and safe play spaces for NYC children, ages 5-12, at 11 program sites in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens. Children participated in arts & crafts projects, STEM activities and music workshops, played soccer, had hula-hoop contests, raced through obstacle courses and more!

In summer 2021, program sessions were extended and there was an increased focus on STEM, art and literacy, which was supported through incredible partnerships including with the American Ballet Theatre, The ASCAP Foundation, BioBus and the Brooklyn and Queens Libraries.

Supporting The Fund’s strong commitment to investing in job training and employment opportunities for young people, we hired over 100 18–24 year-olds who served as counselors, coaches and mentors.

“I tell all my friends to join Summer Spaces because it’s super fun. We do activities, play games, and if you want to do arts and crafts, we can do that here!”

- Marilyn, 7

95% of children said the program helped them get better at meeting people and making friends

92% of children said their time at Summer Spaces helped them feel more active and healthy

Where my whole family felt the magic of Fresh Air

This past summer at The Fund’s camps in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley, Fresh Air Family Wellness expanded to overnight trips, providing more time for Fresh Air children and families to spend together enjoying the outdoors, exploring nature, trying new activities and relaxing as a family.

Families visited The Fund’s Sharpe Reservation and The Fund’s Camp Junior in Harriman State Park. Activities included boating, swimming, hiking, archery, fishing, visiting the Model Farm and making s’mores.

Surrounded by beautiful nature trails, lakes and fresh air, families were able to focus on connecting with each other and appreciate time in the outdoors. Many of our campers shared how meaningful it was to visit camp with their families and share the place where they had so many new experiences. Together families made new memories that will last a lifetime.

“Being able to go back and experience with my family somewhere I spent so many of my summers and built so many special memories was so grounding. It was truly an amazing experience.”

- Serene Stevens

99% of families said they felt more connected as a family after their Family Wellness trip

100% of families said that after their Family Wellness trip they felt more connected to nature

Where I learned skills that will last a lifetime

The Summer Teen Academy, launched in 2021, built on and expanded the teen programs we created in 2020. Close to 600 teens were provided opportunities to explore future careers, earn credentials, gain job training and professional development experience, and connect with a support system of peers and counselors. All programs offered stipends ranging from $500 – $1,000 depending on the time commitment required.

Credentialing programs focused on Urban Design, Coding/Game Design, Entrepreneurship and Environmental Justice, and were created in partnership with PennPraxis at the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design, Urban Arts Partnership, Youthful Savings and NOLS. Through a project-based curriculum, students gained basic industry-level skills, exposure to new career paths and a certificate of completion for their resumes and portfolios.

The virtual Job-Readiness Training Program for 13–15 year-olds focused on career exploration and building leadership and building leadership skills. The Youth Internship Program had virtual, hybrid and in-person internship offerings.  Participants attended weekly professional development workshops and gained hands-on experience at their assigned work sites.

Youth Enrichment Programs

Teens across all of our programs participated in our Youth Enrichment Programs, which created safe spaces for teens to connect with peers and mentors.  

The Girls Empowerment Program included a Friday night virtual series, creating a community space to share with and support their peers and learn from special guest speakers who spoke about their professional and personal journeys. 

Our newly launched Circle of Brotherhood program provided young men a safe and supportive space to share thoughts and discuss issues related to healthy manhood.

“The guest speakers were my favorite part. I learned about starting my own business and to be more independent. When I’m in college, I’ll be more prepared.”

- Ralph, 15, Entrepreneurship Credentialing Program

595 youth participated in the Teen Academy

86% of youth feel more confident after participating in the Teen Academy

$360K funds distributed to support stipends

84% of teens got better at working as a team

Where I explored nature from my apartment

Through our virtual camp, Fresh Air Everywhere, children, ages 7- 12, participated in nine-day sessions which included supervised, interactive activities that encouraged creativity and exploration. The curriculum focused on learning about nature, developing social and emotional skills, and participating in hands-on STEM and art activities.

Launched in 2021, Friendly Towns Connect was designed to build community by providing opportunities for NYC children and volunteer host families to engage in virtual programming together. Children, ages 7-12, participated in programming focused on art and STEM, with interactive activities ranging from building star projectors and bird feeders to scavenger hunts. Partner organizations in NYC and throughout Friendly Towns hosted Friday virtual field trips, including Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Intrepid Museum, the Brandt Foundation Art Study Center, Flying Deer Nature Center in East Chatham, NY and Living Classrooms in Baltimore, MD.

Children in both programs received supply kits with books and materials for activities.

“I really enjoyed growing my own plant. We also got to read comics, and every day before our session, we would always answer cool questions. It was so much fun! I learned something new every day!”

– Rimsha, 9

1,340 supply boxes were sent to participants in virtual programs

92% of Fresh Air Everywhere campers want to take better care of the environment

Where I was inspired to focus on my future

As students have transitioned from remote learning and hybrid learning to being back inside a classroom, our year-round programs have provided a critical source of support. Our tutoring program matches students one-on-one with volunteers who help with academic skill building and serve as trusted role models. The College Connections Program has provided guidance, resources and ongoing support for students as they apply to college and explore a full range of post-secondary options.

The Young Women’s Giving Circle (YWGC) is a youth-led program that teaches girls about the importance of community service and the power of philanthropy. The group has expanded, and in addition to weekly virtual meetings, the young women have participated in weekend field trips around NYC and to camp.

Camp Junior participants, youth ages 8-15 from the Bronx, have participated in year-round activities including a running club, self-defense workshops, community meetings and service projects.

“With my tutors help, I get higher grades on my homework and we talk about the books I’m reading!”

– Ibraheem, 16

100+ youth participated in the College Connections Program

6,424 hours of tutoring

Fresh Perspectives

Check out our blog to read inspiring Fresh Air stories.

A Day at Fresh Air: Connecting, Creating and Exploring

What can happen in just one summer day at The Fresh Air Fund? A lot! Children have music workshops in Brooklyn and play soccer…

Read More

Portrait Of Summer: What Does Summer Mean to You?

At The Fresh Air Fund, summer is a special time full of fun, new experiences, new friends and new adventures!...

Read More

Camp Junior: Empowering Bronx Youth Year-Round

“The summer is when we start our journey with our youth - creating memories, building strong relationships and demonstrating positive...

Read More

A Season of Hope

The Fresh Air Fund offers a summer escape from New York City.

When Sky Sze was 8 years old, the Fresh Air Fund gave him his first escape from New York City. Through the organization’s Friendly Towns program, he was able to leave Sunset Park in Brooklyn over the summer and spend a week living on Cape Cod, where he learned to swim and boogie board.

Read More
Sky Sze in Brooklyn on Tuesday. Makeda Sandford for The New York Times


operating support and revenue

Funds for Jan 1, 2021 – Dec 31, 2021

Off-Season Use of Camps

$ 342,946

Investment Income

$ 2,181,095

Contributions & Grants*

$ 16,271,581

Total Support and Revenue

$ 18,795,622

operating expenses

program services

Friendly Towns Activities

$ 2,845,374

Fresh Air Camps

$ 3,326,097

Sharpe Reservation

$ 3,977,779

Virtual and Community Programs

$ 3,060,636

supporting services

Management & General

$ 1,588,985


$ 3,996,751

Total Expenses

$ 18,795,622

Notes to financial statements

Not included in the above are:

(a) Bequests and Trusts and Other Gifts added to funds functioning as Endowment

$ 482,492

(b) Net gain (loss) on investment transactions

$ 11,293,895

(c) Depreciation expense

($ 1,600,135)

* Total contributions raised also include item (a).

As of December 31, 2021: Assets, Liabilities and Net Assets

($) Amount


$ 157,511,342


$ 1,866,738

Net Assets

$ 155,644,603

FYE 2020, net assets balance

$ 140,166,524

FYE 2019, net assets balance

$ 134,249,594

Audited financials for Fiscal Year 2021 will be available at FreshAir.org as of May 4, 2022. A copy of our financial reports may be obtained from The Fresh Air Fund, 633 Third Avenue, 14th floor, New York, NY 10017 (212) 897-8900, from the New York State Attorney General, Charities Bureau, 28 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10005, or from the Charities Registry on the New York State Attorney General’s website, www.charitiesnys.com. ©️ 2022 The Fresh Air Fund

Donors & Partners

We are grateful to our incredibly generous donors and to the many partners who helped us by donating items, giving of their time, collaborating on programs and providing additional encouragement and support.

Donors & Partners

Looking Forward to Summer 2022

The two years of the pandemic have been particularly difficult for children. In addition, Fresh Air children and families live in communities that are among the most affected by the public health and economic crises. Fresh Air programs play a vital role in providing social emotional support to children, which we know will be a critical need this summer.

For Summer 2022...

We are looking forward to children returning to our sleepaway camps in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley and to reuniting Fresh Air children with volunteer host families through the Friendly Towns program. We also plan to continue many of the new programs that were created during the pandemic including the Summer Teen Academy, Family Wellness and Summer Spaces.

Learn More