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Chicago Park District’s Financial Assistance Fund receives $100K donation

Photo caption: BOARD MEETING CHECK presentation from Commissioner Donald J. Edwards and Anne M. Edwards to the Chicago Park District Financial Assistance Fund. Pictured from left to right, Chicago Park District Superintendent Rosa Escareño, Board of Commissioner President Myetie Hamilton, Anne M. Edwards and Commissioner Donald J. Edwards. (Photo courtesy of Chicago Park District)

The Chicago Park District is excited to announce the launch of the 2023 Financial Assistance Fund fundraising campaign to help families facing economic hardship access park programs regardless of their current financial situations. The announcement comes on the heels of a generous $100K donation by Board Commissioner Donald J. Edwards and his wife Anne Edwards. The Edwards presented their gift to the Park District during the May Board of Commissioners meeting at Fosco Park.

“As a committed advocate of Park District programs, Anne and I are humbled to be able to provide support to facilitate access for families to essential out-of-school time programs that are vital to help children thrive,” said Chicago Park District Board Commissioner Donald J. Edwards.  “We hope that this gift will inspire companies and individuals to support this initiative, and together, help meet the need for enriching programs in our communities.”

The Fund collects donations of all sums to provide financial support to access the Park District’s affordable programming, and eliminate economic barriers that may dissuade families from enrolling their children, ages 6 to 12 years old. In 2022, 20 percent of the children that attended Park Kids and Summer Day Camp benefited from Financial Assistance.

This year, based on continued post-pandemic growth in enrollments, the Park District anticipates a need of $550K in financial assistance for Summer Day Camp and Park Kids participants. Commissioner Edward’s donation boost will help mobilize more supporters and amplify the Fund’s reach. Potentially, the Commissioner’s donation could pay for a fun, Summer Day Camp experience for 571 children, at an average cost of $175 per child.

“The Park District is beyond grateful to Commissioner Edwards and his wife Anne for their generosity and steadfast commitment to our mission to be the best deal in town,” said Chicago Park District CEO and Superintendent Rosa Escareño. “The $100,000 gift towards the Financial Assistance Fund will go very far in making the Park District’s programs attainable to everyone, and inspiring others to donate and positively impact the lives of even more children that rely on the Park District in 2023.”

The Chicago Park District is the leading provider of year-round, out-of-school time (OST) programming that entails supervised programs for youth when school is not in session. OST includes the time before school, after school and during school breaks. The Park Kids after-school programming is held during the school year, and Day Camp provides full-day programming in the summer.

Since 2018, the Fund has raised over $500K to send children to Summer Day Camp and Park Kids with support from over 1,000 individual donors and more than 30 corporate and foundation supporters.

For more information on the Financial Assistance Fund and to donate, visit

To apply for Financial Assistance, families must meet specific requirements, including providing documentation to demonstrate financial need, and follow a timely process for submission and approval. Details about the Financial Assistance application are outlined online.

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