The success of our programs is due to the strength of our relationships. We are proud to align with high-quality organizations/companies who support youth
We are open to new alliances and look for organizations/companies with strong and related missions and values, solid brands and reputations, and high-quality products or services.
If you are interested to learn more about the value of an alliance with the John Austin Cheley Foundation please submit an Alliance Inquiry.
Who We Are...
The John Austin Cheley Foundation (JACF) advances low-income, underserved youth towards a successful future through transformative residential, nature-based summer camp programs.
Founded in 1989 in the memory of John Austin “Jack” Cheley, Owner/Director of Cheley Colorado Camps in Estes Park, Colorado, JACF funds need-based camperships for youth ages 10 to 17 to pay for tuition, travel, and equipment toward a high impact summer camp experience. Jack was the driving force of Cheley Colorado Camps from 1941 to 1981, and he continued as an advisor until his death in 1987. Jack was known for his positive outlook on the future of young people and high standards for his staff and for the campers who attended Cheley Camps. He was highly regarded in the camp industry and was often called upon for assistance and advice on camp issues. Because of Jack’s interest in people and his desire that young people have a positive camp experience, friends and alumni of Cheley Camps organized the John Austin Cheley Foundation following his death.
The Foundation has positively impacted young people and their families by awarding over 1100 camperships valued in excess of $4.5 million.
What We Do...
We leverage the power of high-quality residential Summer Camps and mission-aligned Youth Mentoring Organizations to promote the success of youth across the United States. We are the only known organization that works to remove the barriers to a high impact, long-term summer camp experience, proven to advance low-income youth toward a successful future. We do this by fully funding campers for the full lifespan of their summer camp experience, thus ensuring that the greatest youth development outcomes can be achieved, and access to this life-changing experience can be achieved.
Our network of partners provides programming and services to support the fulfillment of our vision to become an organization of broad national impact while delivering deep impact at the community level. Our campership awardees have the option of selecting a camp closer to their home base, or they can venture out across the United States so that a well-matched camp program is not compromised by an applicant’s location.
Strong Commitment: Through an established national network of individual volunteer mentors and high-quality Youth Mentoring Organizations, JACF recruits and provides financial and personal support to underserved youth who would thrive from the opportunity to participate in sustained summer camp experiences. The Foundation pays for tuition, travel expenses, camp store and equipment for the lifespan of a camper’s years at camp. Camper Families, Associate Camps, and Community Partner Organizations all contribute to the partnership creating a strong and committed union.
Individual volunteer mentors and Youth Mentoring Organizations assist with making camp choices, completing extensive applications for both the Foundation and for the Associate Camp, and preparing campers and their families for a three to four week time away from home in remote, rugged and rustic settings. Without this support system, many of the campers we have served over the years would not be able to realize the actual camp experience due to cultural, familial and financial barriers.
High Standards: JACF partners with high caliber and highly committed accredited residential summer camps. In addition to maintaining current accreditation through the American Camp Association, JACF has developed its own mission-driven standards and regular evaluation process to ensure that our associate camps continue to remain committed to delivering a diverse, rich and enduring life-enhancing experience to all of their campers.
JACF also offers a “Capstone Program” to our senior camper. Through this program, campers have the opportunity to design and implementing a community service project with the support of a volunteer advisor pre-selected by the Foundation. The Capstone Program asks that each camper selected pay forward through their own leadership something that they have learned by attending camp.
Why We Do It...
We think it was said best back in 1920’s by Dr. Charles Eliot, a trailblazing educator, and president of Harvard University.
“The organized summer camp is the greatest contribution America has made to education.”
Charles Eliot, Harvard President
He understood that camp offered so much more to youth than summer fun and time away from home. It’s about IMPACT. Providing access to an extended stay wilderness summer camp program allows a child to grow and develop, priming them for future success. A growing body of research in camp-based youth development suggests that summer camps play an important role in the development of young campers. Results show that camp provides an opportunity for youth to grow socially, to develop important life skills, and experience nature, all in a fun, hands-on setting. The results provide scientific evidence that camp – a unique educational institution – is a positive force in youth development; increasing self-esteem, independence, leadership skills, environmental awareness and social comfort; and promoting peer relationships, friendship skills, values and decision-making, and adventure. Studies also show the impact of a summer camp experience for at-risk middle school youth by exploring self-reported growth in skill development and resilience. Results showed statistically significant differences in the campers’ belief of a good future for themselves.
We also know that these evidence-based camp outcomes mirror many of the necessary skills that have been identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning for today’s youth to thrive in a world in which change is constant and learning never stops. The original founders of JACF understood this in their hearts that camp had a profound effect on the trajectory of their lives and desired to carry this powerful opportunity forward to others. It’s why we have a vested interest in the success of young people, particularly those who face significant barriers in our society.
It’s why our tagline says: “Because Camp Matters”.
The truth is that the benefits of camp are available only to a very small population of young people and their families across the United States. Aligning with the American Camp Association’s “20/20 Vision” which calls for 20 million children and youth of all social, cultural and economic groups to have access to a camp experience, we are uniquely positioned as an organization to advance this shared vision.
What We Provide...
The partnership model provides several benefits to the Youth Mentoring Organization, the Associate Camp and to the John Austin Cheley Foundation, ultimately better supporting the young people whom we serve.
- A high quality, high impact summer PROGRAM OPPORTUNITY
- ENHANCED PROMOTION of the organization through JACF media channels
- An additional FUNDRAISING OPPORTUNITY to present to donors
- TRAINING AND SUPPORT materials to aid in the promotion of the program, the recruitment of applicants, and the mentoring necessary in preparation for camp
- Outcome-based EVALUATION DATA to measure program impact