About the Kara Kennedy Fund

Kara Kennedy Fund MissionKara Kennedy lived her life with dedication to public service and to her children. Kara was a loyal friend and thoughtful leader, who, for 51 years, possessed an insightful mind, a generous heart and a lively sense of humor!

The Kara Kennedy Fund is a donor fund housed at the Greater Washington Community Foundation. Its mission is to support programs that honor Kara Kennedy’s commitment to public service, literacy, children and her lifelong passion for swimming. We identified the first (and a wonderful) outlet for the expression of this mission when we found a metro-DC area organization, Horizons Greater Washington.

The Horizons program, which originated in Connecticut, provides academic, cultural and recreational programs designed to empower economically disadvantaged students to realize their full potential. They have had tremendous success in reversing the gap in educational outcomes by providing a six-week summer and Saturday school year program of intensive learning and support.

On the average, Horizons students have a high school graduation rate of nearly 100% and 85% go on to attend college. The retention rate for students in the Horizons program (from the summer after kindergarten through the summer after 8th grade) is approximately 84%. Students gain 2-3+ months of math and reading skills each summer and are also inspired to take on new challenges exploring music, theatre, art, and swimming — a cornerstone of their daily program, and a skill that is largely unavailable to low income children.

The Kara Kennedy Fund has supported the learn-to-swim programs at Horizons Greater Washington (2014-2019; 3 sites|2 in DC & 1 in MD), Horizons at Dedham Country Day School in Massachusetts (2018, 2019 & 2021), and Horizons Newark in New Jersey (2019). By 2019, this support benefited nearly 700 children. In 2020, with the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic requiring entirely virtual learning, KKF funding shifted to address varied needs of these Horizons sites including technology challenges, food insecurity, and health and wellness programming.  In 2021, the sites returned to in-person programs at least several days a week but still no swimming; KKF once again provided funding similar to the previous year. To note, the Dedham site did manage to get swimming back for each child at least one day a week, not to mention the establishment of a new umbrella organization, Horizons Greater Boston, including Dedham, and adding sites at Lexington Montessori School and at Mattahunt to those KKF now supports.

In 2021, KKF worked with eight Horizons sites serving more than 800 students, kindergarten through 8th grade. Come summer 2022, with the addition of Horizons at San Francisco Friends School on the West Coast, and the-much-anticipated return to pools, the Kara Kennedy Fund will be helping more than 1,000 kids learn to swim. From 2014 through next summer, we will have provided over $260,000 to our Horizons partners in 4 states and the District of Columbia.

We are committed to building the Fund into more than a $1 million endowment (covering the essential costs of Horizons Learn-to-Swim programs including pool rentals, swim instruction, life guards and transportation) and enhancing the Fund’s work through relationships with additional Horizons sites or similar initiatives that fit the Fund’s mission.

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