Charro grant program catalyst for Scottsdale nonprofit efforts

Horsense is a 501(c)3 nonprofit outreach program operated by Health World meant to expose underprivileged youngsters an opportunity to engage with equestrian sports. (Submitted photo)

Horsense is a 501(c)3 nonprofit outreach program operated by Health World meant to expose underprivileged youngsters an opportunity to engage with equestrian sports. (Submitted photo)

Good ideas meant to help a local community are often met with the financial pitfalls of turning those thoughts into tangible outcomes.

But in the community of Scottsdale a group of business and civic leaders known as the Scottsdale Charros offer a chance for fledgling nonprofits to get off the ground and get closer to the ultimate goal of the outfit — community service.

Over the last 10 years, The Charro Foundation has donated more than $7 million back into the community through grants and donations to local nonprofits and schools in the Scottsdale Unified School District.

Scottsdale nonprofits have until Monday, June 15 to turn in completed grant applications to the The Charro Foundation for the 2015 grant cycle.

All funds given by The Charro Foundation are to be used exclusively for the program listed in the grant application. Grants are generally between $2,500 and $25,000.

“Without the help of the Charros, this program would never have happened,” said Horsense founder Peter Rusin.

“Fourteen years ago they provided the initial seed money to develop the program, and have supported it ever since, not only as an organization but individually as well. Many of the Charros and their children have given their time by being part of the volunteer team.”

Mr. Rusin is a Scottsdale Charro.

Horsense is a north Scottsdale-based operation providing local students with the experience of a youth riding camp, which also serves as an after-school program teaching children about respect, responsibility and the development of characters, Mr. Rusin says.

Charro grant dollars go toward providing underprivileged children an equestrian experience. (Submitted photo)

Charro grant dollars go toward providing underprivileged children an equestrian experience. (Submitted photo)

Horsense is a 501(c)3 nonprofit outreach program operated by Health World meant to expose underprivileged youngsters an opportunity to engage with equestrian sports, Mr. Rusin points out.

“The five-week program is held every Saturday at MacDonald’s Ranch, and staffed by over 30 volunteers,” he said of the effort. “The $25,000 grant from last year goes to support camp and program expenses such as the students’ safety equipment and gear.”

For 53 years the Scottsdale Charros have been in constant pursuit of improving the lives of Scottsdale residents while preserving the community’s ties to its western heritage.

Spring Training baseball is the premier annual fundraising event for the Charros who welcome more than 150,000 people to Scottsdale Stadium each year.

Proceeds from Spring Training are donated by the Charros, though The Charro Foundation, back to the community making the Charros one of Scottsdale’s largest philanthropic contributors.

Those philanthropic endeavors have played a major role in the creation and preservation of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, according to Mike Nolan, executive director of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Conservancy.

“Since 2005, the Scottsdale Charros have selected the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy for a grant eight times,” he said.

“The combined total of these grants is nearly $40,000 which we have used to help make Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve safely accessible and to provide more educational opportunities for adults and children visiting the Preserve.”

Proponents say preserving these lands protects the main ridgeline of the McDowell Mountains and expands the land area of an important wildlife corridor connected to nearly three million acres of Tonto National Forest.

The preserve land includes the majority of ridgeline in the southern McDowell Mountains. The lands generally are located north of the Thunderbird Road alignment, south of the Bell Road alignment, east of the 120th Street alignment and west of the 136th Street alignment.

“Charros support has helped MSC meet the needs driven by the rapid expansion of the Preserve over the past decade,” Mr. Nolan pointed out. “Over these years The Charro Foundation has supported various activities where the need was great. For example, they’ve supported our trail patrol program which has had to go from patrolling fewer than 50 to now nearly 150 miles of trails, and expand it from foot patrol to include bike and equestrian patrol.”

A scenic view of of the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve. (

A scenic view of of the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve. (

Most recently, the city of Scottsdale acquired 2,365 acres of land at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve at a state land auction held November 2014.

The city’s successful bid was $21.3 million — about $8 million of that will come from a Growing Smarter State Trust Land Acquisition Grant approved by the Arizona State Parks Board in September.

The remainder of the purchase price will come from money generated by two dedicated sales taxes approved by Scottsdale voters in 1995 and 2004.

Those sales tax dollars are meant to fund a community gem for all to enjoy — the Scottsdale Charros agree.

“They’ve funded our family passport, which includes activities that engage children in learning about nature and the history of the land in the Preserve,” Mr. Nolan said. “They’ve funded a seasonal naturalist to provide hands-on education in the Preserve for school children. In general, they’ve helped make it possible for citizens to more fully enjoy a visit to the Preserve.”

Mr. Nolan says the latest grant provided by The Charro Foundation is meant to help better preserve the community’s part of western heritage.

“The last grant amount was for $4,767 which will help MSC research and interpret Scottsdale’s western heritage,” he explained. “The grant funds a historical survey of the Brown’s Ranch homestead site and nearby Stoneman Military Road, both of which are in the northern portion of the Preserve.

When complete, the results will be presented on digital media to audiences in Scottsdale through our speaker’s bureau and our public lecture series.”

Mr. Rusin says community service is at the heart of what all the Scottsdale Charros seek to accomplish.

“I am honored to be a Charro,” he said. “The Charros are a group of men who work hard, and are diligent about supporting causes that make the community a better place to live.”

Mr. Nolan says the ultimate beneficiary of the work the Charros support are the folks who call Scottsdale home.

“The ultimate beneficiary of the Charros support of our work is the Scottsdale community,” he said. “They’ve helped MSC meet community demands for safe trail access to the Preserve, provide education for children and adults that encourages citizens to visit and celebrate the Preserve, and helped us document pieces of Scottsdale’s unique western heritage before they are forgotten.”

The Charro Foundation grant application can be found at www.charros.com/annual-grants.

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.