HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Huntsville Parks & Recreation has received a ‘prestigious’ $70,000 youth mentoring grant.

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) awarded the $70K grant to Huntsville Parks & Rec, noting it is one of only 20 organizations to receive the funds.

NRPA said parks and recreation professionals are among the largest providers of youth development services, reaching more than 40 million children annually.

Made possible by the U.S. Department of Justice, the grant runs through September 2025 and will go to help provide mentoring services for youth impacted by and at risk for substance misuse.

“This grant allows us to expand our Male Mentorship Program,” said Parks & Recreation Direction James Gossett. “We’ll be able to broaden the program, reach more kids and expose them to even more opportunities.”

The Male Mentorship Program was launched in August 2022, the City of Huntsville said. It is intended to help boys ages 7-17, “form positive social connections, learn character-building skills and enjoy a variety of experiences from sporting events to indoor rock climbing.”

The program will resume in August and outings for boys in the program take place monthly during the school year.

City Recreation Superintendent Dorianne Johnson said they now expect to double the number of youth served from 50 to 100.

“Another exciting part of the grant is the assistance our staff will receive,” Johnson added. “Mentoring resources, specialized training, it’s about helping these young people realize their full potential in a caring, fun environment.”

To learn more about the Male Mentorship Program or apply to become a mentor, you can click here. For more about the grant, you can visit the City of Huntsville’s website.