Registration for youth summer programs through the Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department began earlier this month, but a grant from the Washington Parks and Recreation Association will allow some families in the area to participate free of charge.
The $50,000 Summer Experiences and Enrichment for Kids grant will help fund scholarships for children whose families meet the eligibility criteria, for example qualifying for a free or reduced lunch at school.
The grant will also fund a drop-in mobile playground at Birchwood, Roosevelt and Cordata parks, and the city’s VolunTeens camp, which gives teenagers volunteer opportunities throughout the summer.
Recreation manager Melissa Bianconi said the parks and recreation department was already looking at ways to improve its scholarship program before receiving the grant.
“This gives us the cash we need to let at least two kids a week come to camp for free,” Bianconi said.
Bianconi said the department also reduced some of the barriers of paperwork and having to provide supporting documentation proving a family meets certain criteria for scholarships.
“We were able to work internally with our internal legal department to figure out a way to make that a lot easier,” she said. “We’re really happy we were able to break down some of those barriers and make our programs a little more accessible to people.”
Summer programs through the parks and recreation department run from June through August. Eligibility criteria for scholarships can be found at cob.org.