Carousel Ranch receives $50,000 grant from S. Mark Taper Foundation

Dan Watson Elliot Ashe, 5, leans off the side of her horse Mo, as she demonstrates her riding skills that also strengthen her body at the 19th Annual Heart of the West, "Home at Last" event held at Carousel Ranch in Santa Clarita on Saturday. 082915
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On Friday, Carousel Ranch announced that it received a $50,000 grant from the S. Mark Taper Foundation—a private family foundation dedicated to supporting nonprofit organizations—to support the operations and growth of its Ready for Work! (RFW!) program.

“We are truly honored to have been selected and promise to make the foundation proud of their investment in Carousel Ranch and the Ready to Work! program,” Carousel Ranch Executive Director Denise Redmond said in a press release.

Dan Watson
Gabriella Fenelon , 15, shows that she can control her horse Pac-Man during a demonstraion of her riding skills at the 19th Annual Heart of the West, “Home at Last” event held at Carousel Ranch in Santa Clarita on Saturday. 082915

The RFW! program provides employment readiness and training programs for young adults with special needs based heavily on hands-on work experience.

The funding from S. Mark Taper will allow the program to move from its pilot phase, which began in June 2016, to its full-implementation phase.

“We want to see our students volunteering and working in the community and see this as an area of real growth as we move forward,” Redmond said.

In the RFW! program, students combine classroom-based curriculum with on-the-job experience to learn the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace, like clocking in, wearing a uniform and working as a team.

“They also learn what is considered appropriate behavior, the importance of being flexible and possessing a positive attitude,” said Marianne Cederlind, president of Carousel Ranch Board of Directors.  “By the end of the program, students will have completed a resume, learned and practiced interview skills and finished far ‘readier to work’ than when they began.”

Students also refine their skills with an on-site Tack Shack/Snack Shack social enterprise and with various jobs around Carousel Ranch.

“By the time our students leave the program, they have done a variety of work – from horse and ranch care to vehicle washing, construction to office work, retail, food service, cashiering and so much more,” Redmond said.

According to Carousel Ranch, students from the program have gone on to find paid employment and volunteer experiences in the community.

Now the RTW! is in its third session serving 12 young adults in three classes; however, this summer Carousel Ranch hopes to expand the program to serve 16 young adults in four classes.

The organization is also hoping to create a Ready to Grow! farm program at the ranch’s own “Carousel Farms” to instruct students on how to plant, care for, harvest and sell produce, herbs and pumpkins.

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