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The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park is a not-for-profit organization that in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is committed to supporting the conservation and improvement of Van Cortlandt Park.
The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park is a non-profit organization committed to the enhancement of Van Cortlandt Park as a unique resource. In partnership with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, we raise funds for the restoration and maintenance of the park and its natural, cultural, recreational, and historical resources. As advocates, we protect and preserve Van Cortlandt Park's natural environment, support the park' s educational and recreational programs, and promote broad- based community coalition in order to enhance the quality of life for future generations.The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park was formed in 1992 as concerned Bronx citizens responded to the devastating budget cuts affecting all New York City Parks, Van Cortlandt in particular. The Friends flagship project was the Teen Park Employment Program- hiring teens from the Bronx to work and learn in Van Cortlandt Park during the summers. Since its inception this program has accomplished its goal: providing teens with a valuable paid work and educational experience while contributing to overall improved conditions in the park. In 1996, the Friends teamed up with the Riverdale Neighborhood House to develop a year round Environmental Internship program where teens work every Friday and alternating Saturdays in the park to learn about local environmental issues and to gain a sense of park stewardship.
In 1994, the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park joined together with the Urban Resources Partnership and the New York Botanical Garden' s Bronx Green-Up to develop a compost/recycling demonstration center in the park (the first of its kind to be located within a New York City Park). Using teens from the Teen Park Employment Program, the site was constructed to educate Bronx residents about the methods and the value of organic waste composting. Other Friend programs include facilitating gardening, trail maintenance and greeter programs for volunteers, sponsoring community events in the park (i.e. Haunted Happenings, Native Harvest Festival), Van Cortlandt OUTDOORS: Teacher Workshops Series, advocating for the park at the city level and raising funds for capital projects with the Parks Department.
All programs and projects sponsored by the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are funded by individual donations, grants from businesses, agencies, institutions and foundations. The Friends are non-partisan non-profit and tax-exempt. The Friends left their fiscal agent, City Parks Foundation, on March 31st 2002. The Friends is governed by a 16 member Steering Committee and employs an Executive Director and an Education/ Outreach Coordinator.