Summer park programs in Long Beach will get an added injection of program funding after a nonprofit organization pledged to match a city council allocation by donating $25,000 this week.
The money will extend the city’s funding for the 2020 Be S.A.F.E (Safe Activities in a Friendly Environment) Program, which combined with structural funds through the city’s budget, brings the program funding to nearly $130,000 for the next fiscal year.
The purpose of the Be S.A.F.E. Program is to provide supervised programming during the summer for youth. Long Beach’s Parks, Recreation and Marine department oversees the program, which is set to run for 11 weeks next year.
Activities include movies, games and sports; though each park differs in what fitness activities are offered such as ping pong, basketball or volleyball.
“Be S.A.F.E. is an important park program serving thousands of children each summer in neighborhoods where safe outside and free activities may not be otherwise available,” Trinka Roswell, executive director of Partners for Parks, said in a statement. “This is exactly what we are here for – to raise money to fund unmet budget needs in Long Beach Parks.”
After the program initially landed $80,000 in structural funding, Partners of Parks and the city allocated almost $50,000 in one-time funding to keep extended hours of summertime youth engagement.
The nearly $130,000 allocation will be divided among five parks, with two parks in north and central Long Beach being added back in for the coming fiscal year. The program’s cost of operations for a single park is roughly $24,000, which primarily funds the staffing. The leftover money would be saved for equipment or materials each park may need.
“Rather than funding a single site, we wanted to fund all parks because we serve all parts of Long Beach,” Roswell said.
According to Roswell, the program funded 11 parks in past years but only three were proposed to be part of the program in the coming year. That was before Partners of Parks and the city agreed to pledge nearly $50,000 in one-time funding. These allocations helped include Scherer Park and McArthur Park to this year’s list parks.
Whether the same amount of funds will be available after next year’s budget cycle remains unclear. Councilwoman Stacy Mungo, who chairs the city’s Budget Oversight Committee which approved the one-time funding this year, said that deals struck with city employees’ unions over the coming months could determine what level of funding is available for the program next year.
But Mungo said the committee could look to savings within departments before the end of the fiscal year to extend one-time funding and perhaps add to what was accomplished through this year’s budget cycle.
“We always encourage department heads to be frugal with budget allocations,” Mungo said. “If that materializes, we’ll have funds left over that could be used on important youth and senior programming.”
Partners of Parks is hosting a fundraiser Saturday September 14 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the El Dorado Nature Center with proceeds going toward the group and its affiliated partners.
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