July 15, 2020 Category: Press Release


New York City…The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit organization, announces the launch today of Fresh Air Everywhere, an interactive virtual experience to bring the “outdoors” inside for New York City children, and its Fresh Air Teen Programs to provide career exploration, learning opportunities and work experiences for young people from low-income communities. Programs will take place from July 13th through August 21st.

Although The Fund’s traditional summer sleepaway camps and volunteer host family program will not be taking place, innovative free summer programs will provide alternatives for children to keep the joy of summer alive through Fresh Air Everywhere —  virtual programming; Fresh Air Teen Programs; Fresh Air Youth Employment; Fresh Air Summer Spaces —  safe spaces for outdoor play in neighborhoods in New York City,  and Fresh Air Family Wellness at its camps.

Fresh Air Everywhere will build on the community spirit of The Fund’s summer programs by giving Fresh Air children a safe and fun virtual platform to explore the world and open up new horizons.  The virtual content is designed to invite children to explore and discover, as they would at camp, layered with academic enrichment to help address the “summer slide.” Fresh Air Everywhere will connect thousands of children to the outdoors through interactive learning and provide caring counselors who will help create community in the virtual space so new friendships can be made, while investing in the social and emotional needs of children.

 “Our children and families have been disproportionately impacted and tragically affected by the pandemic.  This summer, we remain steadfast in our commitment to provide fun and enriching experiences,” said Fatima Shama, Executive Director, The Fresh Air Fund. “When we ask our children to describe Fresh Air, they say it’s fun, awesome and amazing. Our new programs are focused on giving our children that same feeling of ‘fun, awesome and amazing’ experiences. Our New York City children deserve to make memories, try new things, see new places and make new friends this summer….now more than ever.”

Through Fresh Air Everywhere, children, ages seven to 13, will have the opportunity to explore the following themes: Travel/Around the World, Nature and Mystery/Time Travel. Hands-on, supervised activities for each theme will engage children and encourage their curiosity through arts, movement, literacy, and STEM. Children will be sent an activity box with arts and crafts materials to work on projects. This program takes place for a six-week period with a capacity to serve a total of 360 children per week.

The Fresh Air Teen Programs is a virtual model of opportunities for teens, ages 14 to 17, who will participate in enriching experiences including job readiness opportunities designed to enable young people to explore career interests and build skills to succeed in the workplace and beyond.

Fresh Air Teen Programs will provide paid work experiences that are designed as a stipend-based model for young people to focus on project-based learning. In July and August, The Fund will facilitate learning, credentialing and employment experiences for up to 600 Fresh Air youth living in New York City’s low-income communities.

“We have a long history of providing leadership training and career awareness for teens through a wide range of summer and year-round programs. Through Fresh Air Teen Programs, young people will gain meaningful employment, along with opening doors to educational and career pathways. This initiative is designed to help fill the gap in critical summer youth employment opportunities,” said Ms. Shama. 

The Job Readiness Training Program for 14 and 15 year olds is a six-week virtual program to provide training in job readiness and leadership skills.  Students will participate in team building and life skills activities including financial literacy and effective communications. The Internship Program is a seven-week experience for 16 and 17 year olds, either virtually or in person, focused on professional development and career exploration with mentors and instructors to provide guidance.

The Fund is working with several partners to offer a range of virtual courses to youth, ages 14 to 17, to build basic, industry-level skills and receive a certificate upon completion.  Topics in these virtual credentialing programs for teenagers include Environmental Education, Video Game Design, Entrepreneurship and Architecture and Urban Design.

Environmental Education is a virtual program offered in partnership with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), an organization dedicated to teaching leadership skills and environmental education. This program will develop Fresh Air students’ wilderness skills, interest in environmental studies, exploration of self and community, risk management and leadership skills.

Video Game Design is a partnership with School of Interactive Arts, Urban Arts Partnership, a virtual program  that provides young people with an introduction to computer science through video game design, along with the opportunity to interact with and learn from professional game developers at major game development studios.  Projects introduce students to computer programming and educational and career opportunities in computer science fields.

Entrepreneurship is a partnership with Youthful Savings, a program that focuses on financial literacy and wellness and basic business concepts including how to gain investments and market a business. Fresh Air students will develop communication skills, professional business knowledge and compete for a chance to earn an investment for their own business with access to online resources available for one year.  There will be one-on-one mentorship opportunities with staff from major companies including venture capital funds, SnapChat, Tik Tok, ViceMedia, JP Morgan Chase and more.

Architecture and Urban Design, hosted by PennPraxis at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, is an intensive virtual design program taught by young designer-teachers from the architecture, fine arts and landscape architecture departments. Fresh Air participants will work together on two interactive virtual architecture and urban design projects both in New York City and at The Fund’s Sharpe Reservation in Fishkill, New York.

Through these innovative credentialing opportunities, Fresh Air youth will finish the summer building self-confidence and gaining concrete skills that may be used to secure future employment while opening up educational and career paths. The Fund remains committed to providing young people with career exposure, job training and leadership skills to help expand the possibilities for their futures.

About The Fresh Air Fund

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit organization has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877.  This summer, despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, The Fund will continue to provide safe, fun, engaging and enriching experiences for New York City youth to keep the magic of summer alive through virtual and outdoor programs. Fresh Air children also participate in year-round leadership and educational programs.  For more information, visit www.FreshAir.org.