Grantee Spotlight

Wildwood Outdoor Education Center is honored to share in the legacy of Marjorie Powell Allen and to continue her work improving the lives of Kansas City’s young citizens through outdoor education. With the support of the SkillBuilders Fund, we will continue our drive toward profitability and programming excellence in 2019.

Wildwood immerses youth in learning in a lively, idyllic setting for summer overnight camps and school year field trip programs. The Wildwood property, located on 399th Street, just south of Louisburg, KS, was originally owned and operated by Bob Allen and Marjorie Powell Allen who called the camp Allendale-by-Jingo. Marjorie taught horseback riding, diving, and tennis to the children of many local civic and business leaders. Bob started an Outdoor School to teach academics to elementary classes in spring and fall.

In 1980, Marjorie Powell Allen, Beth Smith, Jeanne Bates from the Hall Family Foundation, and Kansas City school district personnel put together the plan to create Wildwood Outdoor Education Center. The Powell family donated the Allendale property to the new non-profit, and the Hall Family Foundation provided initial funding via a five-year decreasing grant.

Today, Wildwood has more than 150,000 alumni, and we are serving our second generation of Kansas Citians. Many of the ideas that started Wildwood—that kids grow better outside—that children need a break from technology—that summer learning can change kids’ lives—remain deeply embedded in our thinking and our program design. Wildwood’s experiential teaching methods use nature as the classroom; for many of Kansas City’s low-income youth, camp is a rare opportunity to travel beyond the city each summer.

At Wildwood, innovative, hands-on experiences bring academic lessons to life; they transform participant attitudes about exploration, learning and nature; and they build personal skills like teamwork, independence, and friend-making. The Wildwood program improves educational and youth development outcomes for Kansas City’s students. Generous scholarships and free transportation ensure access for families of all income levels. Wildwood strives to reduce the educational achievement gap for low-income youth by providing summer learning and skill building to increase student achievement levels.

Over the next two years, with generous support from SkillBuilders Fund, we will build the Wildwood brand, increase our community partnerships, and grow public support for our mission. We will add a volunteer program, increase corporate partnerships, and add a second fundraising event. Wildwood will add another 100 youth to the summer program, a 20% increase, and another full week to the camp season. Campers will be engaged and served by Wildwood, not just for one camp session, but for 10 years (from ages 8 to 18) as programming and leadership development opportunities will retain campers year-to-year and provide progressively challenging programs and year-round connections. Wildwood’s Outdoor School program, offered in spring and fall, currently serves 3,500 youth and will grow to serve 4,025 by 2020.

To learn more about Wildwood visit their website at https://wildwoodctr.org/