CAMP HILL, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates community-level health challenges, especially for underserved and vulnerable populations, The Rite Aid Foundation is partnering with two leading organizations, Girls on the Run International and SeriousFun Children’s Network (SeriousFun), to support the health and wellness of children today and into the future.
The Rite Aid Foundation is providing grants for $1 million each to Girls on the Run and SeriousFun to ensure continued programs and impact during the pandemic, as well as enhance their missions and efforts to serve diverse communities over the coming years. Collectively, the two nonprofit organizations serve more than 275,000 children each year, providing a sense of belonging, opportunities for building friendships and programs that improve their overall health and wellness.
Inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident through a fun, experienced-based curriculum that creatively integrates running, Girls on the Run offers programming at more than 12,000 sites across the United States and has transformed the lives of over 2 million girls throughout its 24-year history.
Founded by actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, SeriousFun Children’s Network serves children and families in all 50 U.S. states through its global network of camps and has delivered more than 1.3 million transformative experiences for children with cancer, immunological, blood and neurological conditions as well as other serious illnesses since 1988, totally free of charge.
“Now more than ever, during a generation-defining pandemic, the health and wellness of our communities stands at the forefront,” said Matthew DeCamara, executive director of The Rite Aid Foundation. “We’re humbled to support Girls on the Run and SeriousFun Children’s Network as they adapt and develop new and innovative ways to impact the lives of children facing significant challenges. These organizations embody the commitment to impacting children’s lives by building self-esteem, independence and resilience, and letting all children know what it means to be a kid. Working together, we can emerge stronger from this crisis.”
These new partnerships will ensure the second-responders – nonprofit organizations like SeriousFun and Girls on the Run – can continue important programs, as well as strategically position The Rite Aid Foundation for future collaborations to address the intersection point between racial equity and health disparities.
Girls on the Run International will utilize its $1 million grant over two years to expand its traditional, and at-home delivery options while advancing its commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) programs. It will also invest in 21 Girls on the Run councils in cities such as Cleveland, Detroit, Harrisburg, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Seattle to ensure not only that programming can continue through the pandemic, but also to facilitate long-term sustainability, growth and commitment to supporting girls from historically under-served communities.
“For years, Girls on the Run has built resilience, confidence, empathy and self-awareness in girls through physical activity – all skills and abilities necessary to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Elizabeth Kunz, chief executive officer at Girls on the Run International. “During these times, it’s more important than ever to nurture our physical and emotional health, and Girls on the Run will continue to develop innovative programming that empowers girls to unleash the unstoppable strength inside all of them.”
Funding from The Rite Aid Foundation will support efforts to assess, update and prepare SeriousFun member camps to re-open for in-person activities, along with enhanced onsite safety needs, to protect medically fragile children, their families, staff and volunteers during times at camp. Additionally, the grant will support diversity, equity and inclusion evaluations and efforts, as well as network-wide DEI training for SeriousFun camps.
“SeriousFun camps were founded on the idea of allowing children living with serious illness to get back to being a kid, something that often feels out of reach for them,” said Blake Maher, chief executive officer for SeriousFun. “The fear, isolation and uncertainty being felt around the world as a result of COVID-19 are something our campers and their families know all too well. For these families, camp is more important now than ever before, which is why we are focused on supporting children with serious illnesses and their caregivers through innovative alternative and virtual programming as we prepare to resume the in-person programs they so look forward to when it is safe and right to do so. The Rite Aid Foundation grant is an incredible investment in the lives and futures of our campers and for that we are so grateful.”
The $2 million investment marks The Rite Aid Foundation’s second grant allocation supporting nonprofit organizations providing critical services and important programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. It builds upon an initial $7 million allocation in April that supported healthcare providers, first responders, families and communities impacted by the pandemic, and geographic hotspots.
Additionally, The Rite Aid Foundation also advanced a racial equity initiative in June to combat racism and foster more diverse, inclusive and equitable opportunities in communities.
About Girls on the Run International
Girls on the Run is a physical activity-based positive youth development program that is designed to enhance girls’ social, emotional and physical skills and behaviors to successfully navigate life experiences. The program’s evidence-based curriculum places an emphasis on developing competence, confidence, connection, character, caring and contribution in young girls through lessons that incorporate running and other physical activities. An independent study found that 97% of participants learned critical life skills including managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others or making intentional decisions at Girls on the Run that they continue to use at home, at school and with their friends. Girls on the Run, a non-profit organization with councils in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, has served over 2 million girls since its inception in 1996.
About SeriousFun Children’s Network
SeriousFun Children's Network is a global community of 30 camps and programs serving children with serious illnesses and their families, always free of charge. Following the founding of The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp by Paul Newman in 1988, he and other like-hearted individuals opened similar camps around the world, ultimately joining together to form SeriousFun Children’s Network. Thanks to a shared vision and collective contributions, the Network has evolved to become the leader in the field of medical specialty camps, delivering more than 1.3 million life-changing experiences to children and families from more than 50 countries. Each member camp is an independent, not-for-profit organization dependent upon private funding to serve all children at no cost to their families. To learn more about SeriousFun, visit www.seriousfunnetwork.org.
About The Rite Aid Foundation
The Rite Aid Foundation, the philanthropic organization of a leading healthcare company and trusted neighborhood pharmacy, drives leadership and progress that impacts the health and wellness of everyone in our communities. Working with a network of nearly 500 nonprofit organizations, the Foundation has a special focus on underserved and disadvantaged populations and locations, advancing racial equity and serving as a catalyst for positive change.
About Rite Aid Corporation
Rite Aid Corporation is on the front lines of delivering healthcare services and retail products to more than 1.6 million Americans daily. Our pharmacists are uniquely positioned to engage with customers and improve their health outcomes. We provide an array of whole being health products and services for the entire family through over 2,400 retail pharmacy locations across 18 states. Through Elixir, we provide pharmacy benefits and services to approximately 4 million members nationwide. For more information, www.riteaid.com.