After receiving thousands of e-mails from parents and children across America who did not have a safe, legal place to skate and in some cases arrested for skating on public property, Tony Hawk decided to establish a foundation whose mission would be to serve this population. He wanted to help them develop quality places to practice the sport that gives them much needed exercise and a sense of self-esteem. So in 2002 he established the Tony Hawk Foundation, financed the organization with a personal gift, and assembled a Board of Directors that represents a diverse range of backgrounds and expertise.
Since its inception, the Tony Hawk Foundation has sought to foster lasting improvements in society, with an emphasis on supporting and empowering youth. Through special events, grants, and technical assistance, the Foundation supports recreational programs focusing on the creation of public skateboard parks in low-income communities, and other causes in the U.S. and overseas. The Foundation favors projects that have strong community involvement, grassroots fundraising, and a base of support from the skaters, parents, law enforcement, and local leaders.
In recent years, hundreds of municipalities have come to embrace the recreational—and societal—benefits of skateboard parks. With the popularity of skateboarding fueling the rush to build them, the need for help from the Tony Hawk Foundation has become more urgent and critical. Most cities in the process of building a public skatepark are working on their first, and for them there is no precedent, no blueprint. Once the cement is poured and formed, there is no changing it. All the right questions must be addressed before that step. The Tony Hawk Foundation was established to help cities develop that checklist and ensure that the hard work of skaters, parents, and city officials will result in a quality skatepark that will serve that community for years to come. The foundation also supports International programs, like Skateistan (www.skateistan.org), that enrich the lives of youth through skateboarding.
Since 2002 the Tony Hawk Foundation has been fulfilling its mission to help young people by issuing grants to low-income communities building quality public skateparks, and providing guidance to city officials, parents, and children through the process. To-date, the foundation has awarded over $5.2-million to 557 public skatepark projects in all 50 States, and $100,000 to support the Skateistan (www.skateistan) program in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa.
To-date, 466 Tony Hawk Foundation grant recipients have opened their skateparks. These parks receive more than 4.8-million visits annually by youth who benefit from the active lifestyle and camaraderie the facilities promote.
The Tony Hawk Foundation supports disadvantaged communities and at-risk children. We are the only national grant-writing organization focused solely on the development and financing of free, quality public skateparks. We know that skateparks provide a safe and inspiring avenue for skaters to practice and excel at their sport, and the process of developing their local skatepark encourages and teaches young people about how to make positive changes within their own communities.
The Tony Hawk Foundation has been working with municipalities and community groups to help them realize their dream of a quality public skatepark in their community. For Tony Hawk, skateboarding was a healthy outlet and a recreational challenge, and it provided a social group of creative, like-minded individuals. It's also a sport that helped him build confidence, taught him to persevere, and through his mentoring of younger skaters helped him develop leadership skills. The Tony Hawk Foundation works every day to be able to bring these same lessons to youth around the world.