Learn About Us

Transforming Lives. One Summer at a Time.

Since its founding in 1877, The Fresh Air Fund has provided life-changing summer experiences for children from New York City’s underserved communities.

Each year, thousands of children experience outdoor summer adventures through visits with volunteer host families and at The Fund’s sleepaway camps in upstate, NY. Fresh Air children also participate in academic enrichment and leadership programs throughout the school year.

We believe that investing in a child’s journey through life provides an opportunity for young people to learn, grow, and thrive in our city and beyond. The magic of a Fresh Air summer, full of new experiences and new friends, is simple yet transformative.

We Transform Limited Opportunity Into Limitless Potential Through

generosity, partnership and sunshine.

1.8 MILLION

Fresh Air Children And Counting

1877

140 years ago, the Reverend Willard Parsons, a minister of a small, rural parish in Sherman, Pennsylvania, asked members of his congregation to provide country vacations to some of New York City’s neediest children, primarily from the Lower East Side. In the first year, The Fresh Air Fund served 60 children.

1895

By 1895, 100,000 New York City children had visited Friendly Towns.

1928

The Fund’s Marks Memorial Camp was donated by Charles P. Marks in memory of his wife, Sarah Marks. Situated on 200 acres in northern Dutchess County, the camp had cabins and facilities for 120 boys.

1948

Until 1948, Fresh Air camps were operating in several widely separated locations. Dr. William Sharpe’s priceless gift of 1,000 acres of woodland property gave The Fund a site to centralize its camping programs. Located in Fishkill, New York, the property was named The Fresh Air Fund’s Sharpe Reservation.

1967

Publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger called The Fresh Air Fund to offer the support of The New York Times, after an announcement was made that The New York Herald Tribune was closing its doors.

1977

The Fresh Air Fund celebrated 100 years of serving New York City children in Friendly Towns. A century after its founding, over 1.3 million children had participated.

1988

Mrs. Donald Newhouse was named Chairman of the Board continuing The Fund’s extraordinary leadership, and Chairman Arthur Ochs Sulzberger became Chairman Emeritus.

1994

The Fund opened Camp Mariah and created the Career Awareness Program, a three-year, year-round program, that teaches students about the connection between education and career opportunities, and supports them in making positive choices that will impact their futures. Camp Mariah is named after Board member Mariah Carey for her generous support.

1999

Camp Tommy, named after Tommy Hilfiger for his generous support, opened and expanded The Fund’s programming for teenage boys with a focus on youth development.

2008

The Young Women’s Giving Circle program was launched with the support of Mrs. Max Fisher, grandmother of Board member Caroline Cummings Rafferty. The youth-led program teaches girls about the importance of community service and the power of philanthropy.

2010

The Fund’s Precious Center for Teen Leadership at Camp ABC opened with the generous support of The Gary Magness Family Foundation, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness were inspired by producing the film Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.

2011

William Lauder was named Chairman of the Board continuing The Fund’s outstanding leadership, and Mrs. Donald Newhouse became Chairman Emeritus.

2012

The College Connections Program was launched to provide students with the resources and support they need to apply to and graduate from college. The program provides college tours, SAT prep courses, and students meet weekly with volunteer mentors who provide ongoing guidance.

2015

The Blavatnik Family and Warner Music Group Center for Music at Camp Hidden Valley opened. The yearround program was inspired by volunteer Val Blavatnik with the generous support of The Blavatnik Family and Warner Music Group.

2016

Executive Director Fatima Shama and The Fund’s Board of Directors spearheaded a strategic planning process to ensure a bright future for Fresh Air children.

1877

140 years ago, the Reverend Willard Parsons, a minister of a small, rural parish in Sherman, Pennsylvania, asked members of his congregation to provide country vacations to some of New York City’s neediest children, primarily from the Lower East Side. In the first year, The Fresh Air Fund served 60 children.

1895

By 1895, 100,000 New York City children had visited Friendly Towns.

1900s

1800s

1928

The Fund’s Marks Memorial Camp was donated by Charles P. Marks in memory of his wife, Sarah Marks. Situated on 200 acres in northern Dutchess County, the camp had cabins and facilities for 120 boys.

1948

Until 1948, Fresh Air camps were operating in several widely separated locations. Dr. William Sharpe’s priceless gift of 1,000 acres of woodland property gave The Fund a site to centralize its camping programs. Located in Fishkill, New York, the property was named The Fresh Air Fund’s Sharpe Reservation.

1967

Publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger called The Fresh Air Fund to offer the support of The New York Times, after an announcement was made that The New York Herald Tribune was closing its doors.

1977

The Fresh Air Fund celebrated 100 years of serving New York City children in Friendly Towns. A century after its founding, over 1.3 million children had participated.

1988

Mrs. Donald Newhouse was named Chairman of the Board continuing The Fund’s extraordinary leadership, and Chairman Arthur Ochs Sulzberger became Chairman Emeritus.

1994

The Fund opened Camp Mariah and created the Career Awareness Program, a three-year, year-round program, that teaches students about the connection between education and career opportunities, and supports them in making positive choices that will impact their futures. Camp Mariah is named after Board member Mariah Carey for her generous support.

1999

Camp Tommy, named after Tommy Hilfiger for his generous support, opened and expanded The Fund’s programming for teenage boys with a focus on youth development.

2000s

1900s

2008

The Young Women’s Giving Circle program was launched with the support of Mrs. Max Fisher, grandmother of Board member Caroline Cummings Rafferty. The youth-led program teaches girls about the importance of community service and the power of philanthropy.

2010

The Fund’s Precious Center for Teen Leadership at Camp ABC opened with the generous support of The Gary Magness Family Foundation, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness were inspired by producing the film Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.

2011

William Lauder was named Chairman of the Board continuing The Fund’s outstanding leadership, and Mrs. Donald Newhouse became Chairman Emeritus.

2012

The College Connections Program was launched to provide students with the resources and support they need to apply to and graduate from college. The program provides college tours, SAT prep courses, and students meet weekly with volunteer mentors who provide ongoing guidance.

2015

The Blavatnik Family and Warner Music Group Center for Music at Camp Hidden Valley opened. The yearround program was inspired by volunteer Val Blavatnik with the generous support of The Blavatnik Family and Warner Music Group.

2016

Executive Director Fatima Shama and The Fund’s Board of Directors spearheaded a strategic planning process to ensure a bright future for Fresh Air children.