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The Dr. Barnes Learning & Leadership Fund


The Pony Barnes Foundation proudly continues the legacy of Dr. Virginia Barnes, a visionary and committed educator whose life’s work inspired youth and their families to reach new levels of personal potential and to kindle a passion for lifelong learning through transformative camp experiences.


Dr. Barnes guided campers on a journey of self-discovery, helping them to discover and harness their unique strengths, build community with others through shared experiences, unlock personal potential through experiential education, and have fun along the way. She believed in the power of knowledge, curiosity, and diverse perspectives to bring communities together and elevate individuals to new heights as leaders.

In line with her vision, this Dr. Barnes Learning & Leadership Fund aims to empower camp directors, staff, and campers through fostering leadership skills, enhancing understanding around LGBTQ+ concepts, and implementing innovative strategies to make camp a
place of community, connections, and belonging for LGBTQ+ youth and their families.

The Dr. Barnes Learning & Leadership Fund now encompasses objectives addressed by last year’s Brave Space Fund.



Proposals must address at least one of the following grant objectives below. To read an example of each objective in practice, click the "i" icon to the right of each objective.

Objective #1: Promote education and awareness about the LGBTQ+ community, foster cultural competency, and implement inclusive policies and practices.

Objective #2: Improve the camp experience for LGBTQ+ youth and their families through staff training programs, workshops, curriculum development or strategic planning. 

Objective #3: Enrich LGBTQ+ campers and staff through innovative experiential learning programs. 

Objective #4: Provide resources that better enable camp directors, staff and campers to create environments where LGBTQ+ youth and their families thrive.

Objective #5: Increase access to camp by providing financial assistance to LGBTQ+ individuals in attending camp.

Objective #6: Inspire personal growth, enhance self-confidence, and empower LGBTQ+ campers to develop their own unique and individual leadership styles. This may include workshops, mentorships, coaching, CIT programs, and hands-on experiences designed to equip participants with leadership skills that will positively impact the lives of LGBTQ+ youth and their families at camp and beyond.

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