Local nonprofit hosts virtual concert to raise money for parks and rec scholarship program

Since its inception nearly 35 years ago, local nonprofit Partners of Parks has set about the task of supporting the city’s Parks, Recreation and Marine Department. A major part of their support comes through fundraising, helping to fill gaps where the department’s budget fell short, keeping youth programs, scholarships and city-wide public park events running and more widely available.

The nonprofit was a little unsure this year if they’d be able to accomplish their fundraising goals for their Youth Scholarship Program, one of their more prominent initiatives, which gives children and young adults from lower-income families up to $150 to use towards the city’s year-round parks and recreation courses, such as swimming, karate and art classes.

Many of those classes, known as contract classes, have been canceled this year due to coronavirus health concerns. However, the scholarship money could still be used towards Parks, Recreation and Marine’s new youth “enrichment” programs like their educational STEM and art classes, an extension of their new “After School Reimagined” fall programming.

Partners of Parks executive director, Trinka Roswell, said the nonprofit has raised $10,000 in grants from several Long Beach sponsors they’ve received donations from in the past, including the Port of Long Beach, Memorial Care Medical Center, Azteca Landscape and Signal Petroleum.

So, even though they’ve done better than anticipated given the circumstances, Partners of Parks organized a virtual music concert this weekend to spread the word that they’re still accepting donations while also engaging with the community as they’ve done in years past.

“We just wanted to provide a feel-good event for the community,” Roswell said.

Audiences can tune in and watch a pre-recorded show featuring clips from past performances by local rock outfit, Elm Street Band. The 90-minute episode will begin with a welcome video by the mayor and will include interviews with the band from 908 magazine interspersed throughout the show.

The show runs for free online, Saturday, Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m. Those who miss the first showing can still catch the full episode as the show will be aired on loop the rest of the evening. Donations are not required but are welcome. In addition, Partners and Parks is encouraging audiences to support their local businesses by ordering take-out from your favorite restaurant while watching the show from home.

Roswell encourages the community to apply for the Youth Scholarship Program this year especially because the application requirements have been simplified: any Long Beach resident between the ages of 5 and 18 who qualify for free or reduced-price meals at their school may apply. Partners of Parks has raised $58,000 in scholarship grants and awarded 329 youths since the scholarship program began in 2014.

For those interested in getting involved, you can donate directly to Partners of Parks, here. Or, through the Long Beach Gives, a city-wide annual fundraising event on Sept. 24 that includes Partners of Parks, here.

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Cheantay Jensen is an editorial intern who covers art and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post.