& Donations

The Parks Foundation of Highland Park, an independent, community-led, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was established in 2016 to support access to the world-class Park District programs and facilities that enhance community life.  The Foundation provides a variety of scholarship opportunities for Highland Park/Highwood residents of all ages to enjoy athletic and recreational programs.


Scholarships Mean Involvement in Leisure for Everyone!

We believe everyone in our community should have access to Park District programs regardless of their family’s financial situation.

In 1992, the SMILE Grant-in-Aid program was created to enable families in need of financial assistance the opportunity to participate in Park District programs. Each year SMILE makes it possible for hundreds of residents to participate in camps, sports, lessons and fitness programs.

SMILE is funded through generous donations from Park District of Highland Park residents and local businesses. In the last year, $100,000 in grants were awarded to over 85 Highland Park families through this worthwhile program.

Applying for a SMILE Grant

All Grants-In-Aids are awarded on the basis of need and availability of Grant-In-Aid funds at the time of application. Upon submission of a grant request, families will be notified in 15 working days of their grant status. Questions regarding the Grant-In-Aid program may be directed to 847.579.3101 or [email protected].

An application form (in English or Spanish) requesting detailed financial information is available at the Recreation Center of Highland Park or online. Forms must be completed and submitted to the Registration office at the Recreation Center of Highland Park.

2024 Forms

FYI Grant-in-Aid

Foundation Youth Initiative

Our FYI (Foundation Youth Initiative) Grant-in-Aid Program is available to qualifying Highwood families and can help cover up to 50% of program fees.

For more information, please call 847.579.3101 or email [email protected].

2024 Forms

FYI Swim

Foundation Youth Initiative Swim

The FYI Learn-to-Swim programs are available for qualifying Highwood families and cover 100% of the fees. Applications for the FYI Learn-to-Swim programs are taken by José Castrejon, Family Engagement Specialist for District 112, [email protected].

Michael Goldman Memorial Golf Scholarship

Youth Golf

The Parks Foundation of Highland Park is seeking applicants for golf lesson scholarships aimed at helping local youth learn and grow through the game of golf. The Michael Goldman Memorial Golf Scholarship is available to Highland Park and Highwood middle and high school students who are facing economic, social, or emotional challenges. The opportunity includes one-on-one golf instruction by the Park District of Highland Park professional staff as well as loaner clubs and use of Sunset Valley Golf Club’s world-class practice facilities.

This annual scholarship is available thanks to generous donations from the local golf community and the family of longtime Highland Park resident Michael Goldman, whose devotion to the sport throughout a time of illness demonstrated that golf is more than a game – but rather, a means to overcome obstacles and foster physical and emotional well-being. His family’s goal is to help young people develop the focus and discipline that golf inspires while enjoying a healthy, outdoor activity that offers lifelong benefits. 

Highland Park and Highwood students ages 12-18 who have an interest in learning to play golf and demonstrate need are eligible. Each Goldman Scholar will receive golf equipment, approximately eight private lessons, practice time, and the chance to develop a personal relationship with a caring Park District of Highland Park golf pro.

Lois & Edmond Zisook Scholarship

Rosewood Beach Summer Camp

The Zisook Scholarship is available annually to help fund High Tide, Low Tide Camp for Highland Park or Highwood families facing financial constraints. There are currently three $1,000 scholarships.

For more information and to apply for the scholarship, contact [email protected].

Easy Ways to Make a Donation

  • When registering for a program online, click on the donation category and pay for your donation at checkout.
  • Mail your donation to the Parks Foundation of Highland Park, 636 Ridge Road, Highland Park, IL 60035.  Checks should be made out to Parks Foundation of Highland Park (be sure to designate the category of your donation).