City Kids’ Core Values are the principals we use to guide our work. From our programming to making decisions for the future of the organization, these five values are incorporated into everything we do.
“You looked after my son with the care and compassion of a family member and will forever be part of our family. You brought my son home safely. You helped him grow physically and mentally and provided him with opportunities to create core memories which will shape his world view beyond the concrete sidewalks and brick buildings that framed his perception of life.”
– RANGER PARENT
Message from our
There is a spot at the City Kids ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming – a shed where we store horse tack and supplies. It’s not something we photograph or feature on tours of the ranch, but I like the way it looks – it has old, weathered wood and sits in between a dirt corral and green pastures enveloped by beautiful forestry behind. You can sense its age, but the smell of fresh leather and the sounds of hammering nails reminds me of how long something wonderful can last when thoughtfully cared for.
2021 has been a year of preserving what has historically worked for the organization and recognizing how important it is to incorporate new initiatives that allow them to flourish under our care. As you will see in the following pages, we have doubled down on maintaining and building strong infrastructure to enable consistent high quality programs for City Kids youth. This Annual Report features several initiatives that strengthened our foundation in 2021:
Launched a New Strategic Plan: Prior to City Kids, I worked as a consultant for 14 years. In this role, I facilitated many strategic plans for organizations across the country. When I thought about how to lead City Kids through a strategic planning process, I wanted it to be more than a marketing project, more than a story about how we are pivoting due to the pandemic. I wanted it to clarify our identity. I wanted it to call out bold investments and establish City Kids as a place where people, particularly youth, come to thrive and grow. And, I think we’ve achieved that.
Activated New Core Values: Living our core values is a learning journey of ongoing reflection and improvement to ensure we’re walking the talk. In early 2021, City Kids went through a process of re-examining how we behave in our day to day work. The core value that I’ve embraced the most is “evolution.” I love that we are giving ourselves permission to be aware of change, honor what works, improve what we can, and let go of things that no longer serve our community and mission. And though each of the other four core values is essential, I’m most excited about giving this organization the same freedom to evolve.
Increased Youth Engagement: I have been moved this year by the way we’ve seen teenagers bring a unique vision, perspective, and new set of values to our culture. They are confident in their needs. And at the same time, teenage youth are facing multitudes of crises simultaneously. We have felt the challenges of this dynamic time to work with all youth, increasingly so for youth of color. When you see our youth engagement efforts from 2021, you’ll see our eagerness to show up for youth with the same vigor that they are showing up to this world. I felt the urgency this year to ensure that strong youth engagement is a part of our base, not something we wish for.
Invested in New Partnerships: As an extrovert, partnership building is one of the best parts of my job. I even look forward to speed networking events, not because I love having an evening of 10 minute conversations, but because the possibility of finding initial synergy to explore later excites me. The new partnerships we’ve established in 2021 are fundamental to our growth. And as you might expect from me, I’ve had a strong decision-making filter for how we choose partners. The organizations featured in this report are those that are helping us establish sustainable revenue, sustainable program activities, and sustainable pipelines for program participants. I believe that the partnerships we’ve formed in 2021 are one part of the thoughtful care required for City Kids to continue its high quality programs. With them, we are also poised to experience growth in the years to come.
And, like the shed that captivates me each summer, your continued care and commitment to City Kids has enabled the organization to stand up and strengthen with age. Thank you for celebrating 2021 with us. Thank you for believing in City Kids, in the youth we serve, in the two cities that anchor us.
“2021 has been a year of preserving what has historically worked for the organization and recognizing how important it is to incorporate new initiatives that allow them to flourish under our care.”
Our program is based around three core principles: long-term youth engagement, outdoor adventure and experiential education programming, and goal setting with a focus on future planning. Youth develop a positive self-identity by overcoming challenges, building strong relationships with peers and adult mentors, and exploring personal possibilities.
Staff recruit sixth grade youth attending DC public schools. During this applicant period, City Kids is looking for a child’s willingness to try new things; their cohesion with other youth; and a general excitement about the outdoors. Out of the 50+ youth applying to the program, 21 youth are selected.
Be Courageous and Compassionate
Beginning with summer camp in Jackson Hole, first year participants broaden their world view by experiencing a new place away from home. As the school year begins, a strong focus on using local, outdoor spaces to set goals, try new things, increase self-knowledge, and appreciate other people and experiences. This prepares youth to apply what they have learned at City Kids inside and outside of school.
Outdoor Adventures Include:
Canoeing, backpacking, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting.
In their 3rd year in the program, participants deepen their connection to the outdoors by embarking on longer backcountry trips designed to enhance skill mastery and provide opportunities for peer and self leadership.
Outdoor Adventures Include:
Find your Personal Power
In their final year as campers, participants push their own sense of possibility through more technical outdoor activities and through a Social Justice Week focused on exploring issues within their communities.
Outdoor Adventures Include:
Create your Vision
Year-round programming focused on community building, joy, professional skill-building, future planning and leadership development.
JET Opportunities Include:
Thanks to the support of The Grossman Family Foundation in 2021, City Kids will launch our College Success and Alumni Services pilot program.
Alumni Supports Include:
City Kids Wilderness Project is incredibly grateful to our donor community who sustained their commitment throughout the pandemic or sought out a giving opportunity for the first time. A deep and heartfelt thank you to our many donors, whose generous support makes it possible every day for imaginations to be sparked, academic success to be achieved, self-confidence to grow, and wilderness areas to be explored. Your support of City Kids during the pandemic has simply blown us away and we are so grateful for your continued commitment to our youth.