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Our Mission

Blue Sky is on a mission to provide transformational experiences for urban youth through outdoor education.

Our Vision: We will give every young person the opportunity to discover themselves by actively engaging the natural world

Program Goals:
1. Help children achieve academic success, especially in the sciences, through active outdoor education that is appropriate for their current science curriculum.

2. Develop character and leadership through outdoor experiences that expand horizons, increase confidence, and build collaboration skills.

What do we do?

  • We lead school-based, after-school, weekend, and summer programs.
  • We explore the great outdoors with elementary school students, helping them engage in their core science requirements through hands-on, field trip experiences in nature.
  • We build character in middle and high school students by coaching them in outdoor adventure skills such as rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, and camping.
  • We develop young leaders by bringing together a diverse set of high school students to meet the challenges of a week long wilderness trip and year-round community service opportunities as a team.
  • We engage hundreds of neighborhood kids through one day expeditions that provide exposure to new places, active lifestyles, and caring adults.
  • We connect urban children of all ages to the natural environments in our region.

Who do we serve?

Blue Sky aims to serve school-aged children, with a strategic focus on Richmond’s most underserved neighborhoods.

  • We currently serve in 8 Richmond City Public Schools by providing 2nd through 5th grade field excursions to 2,000 students every month (99% of whom qualify as low-income and 70% of whom are in the East End).
  • We lead weekly adventure clubs at 10 sites, serving about 150 middle school students (97% of whom qualify as low-income and many of whom live in the East End).
  • We purposefully serve a very diverse group of 25 high school students from all across the region in our capstone leadership program.
  • We work with most of these kids through strategic partnerships with schools, community organizations, churches, and tutoring groups. For a complete list of partners, please see our latest Annual Report.

Annual Reports and Financial Information

Click to view 2015 Annual Report
Click to view 2016 Annual Report
Click to view our 501(c)(3) tax exempt status
Click to download our Form 1023
To view our 990 and most recent financial review, please visit our Give Richmond profile.

Meet Our Team

David Kunnen
David Kunnen
Executive Director
(804) 241-8479
David Kunnen joined Blue Sky Fund as Executive Director in September 2016. He has over a decade of non-profit experience in the Richmond area, previously working for the YMCA of Greater Richmond and the American Heart Association. David received his masters degree in accounting from Virginia Tech. Time on the trails in and around Blacksburg taught him the importance of exploring the outdoors. He treasures the outdoor resources we are lucky to have in Richmond, and is committed to helping create opportunities for youth in Richmond’s East End. David is passionate about continuing the positive impact Blue Sky is making on our city and leading the organization’s staff and volunteers through the next stages of its growth.
Amanda Godbold Payne
Amanda Godbold Payne
Operations Director
(804) 410-4273
Amanda Godbold Payne moved to Richmond in May 2011 from the West coast. A South Carolina native, Amanda began her journey out West after completing her Bachelor’s in Economics and Business Administration at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. She started as an adventure guide at Noah’s Ark in Colorado, then continued there as the Staffing Coordinator and Food Service Manager. In addition to her outdoor recreation experience, she has managed staffing needs at mid-size companies and managed operations in both the private and non-profit sector. She joined Blue Sky in 2012, excited to be able to work in a place that utilizes her professional skills and experience to further a mission that she deeply believes in. Amanda lives in Union Hill with her husband and two children.
Colvin Hedgepeth
Colvin Hedgepeth
Development Director
Colvin relocated back to the Richmond area in 2018 from Colorado. The outdoors have been a constant thread throughout her life, having grown up in Hanover County riding horses to now hiking trails across the globe whenever she gets the chance. She studied Public Relations at the University of South Carolina, and expanded her communications skill set in non-profit and agency roles in Atlanta and Philadelphia. Most recently, Colvin was an event coordinator for the United States Olympic Committee in Colorado, during which she managed the registration and volunteer programs at the Team USA Hospitality Center at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. With five years of communications experience primarily supporting non-profits in the sports industry, Colvin comes to Blue Sky Fund eager to make an impact in getting more people outdoors to experience the benefits that nature can provide. In her free time, Colvin jumps at the chance to head outdoors – walking her dog, yoga, snowboarding, and, most often, hiking – and she recently enjoyed a seven-day 100-mile solo trek around Mont Blanc in the French, Italian and Swiss Alps.
Tanesha Powell
Tanesha Powell
Academic Program Manager
(804) 495-1435
Tanesha Powell relocated to Richmond with her husband and children in March 2018 from Hampton Roads. She brings with her over ten years of experience in the field of education as an elementary school teacher, Curriculum Writer, and Science Department Lead. Her appreciation for the beauty and adventure that lie in the great outdoors came from her upbringing in a small, rural area of Montgomery County, Maryland. Tanesha made her way to Virginia when she earned her Bachelors degree in Psychology from Norfolk State University, only moving away briefly to obtain her Masters degree in Elementary Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Her adventurous spirit fuels her love to travel and experience new places nationwide and abroad. Tanesha is excited to join the Blue Sky Fund team, fulfilling her passion for aiding in the growth and development of children through a variety of rich learning experiences.
Mason Gatch
Mason Gatch
Explorers Site Coordinator 4th & 5th Grade
(513) 374-9234
Mason started with Blue Sky Fund in August, 2017. His interests vary, from his college training in Music Education, to his pastime in food and cooking, to his love for the outdoors. He studied music in Louisville, KY, where he has been for the past seven years. School is what brought him to Louisville, but the city is what kept him there. After his studies, Mason worked and managed a brunch restaurant, First Watch, where he developed many of his cooking skills. While in Louisville, he also met his fiance, Brianna. Her journey to becoming the current Band Director at Clover Hill High School is what brought them to the Richmond area in June, 2017. Mason and Brianna love finding new parks, trails, and dog-friendly areas, with their young pup, Aria. They also spend plenty of time exploring the local food scene and diversifying their diet. Mason’s experience with the Boy Scouts of America as a teenager, and his recent discovered interest in bouldering/rock climbing, have inspired him to explore the powerful realm of experiential education. Mason loves working with people, specifically in character development, leadership, relationships, and team building. He is thrilled to bring his passions and experience to Blue Sky Fund and the youth it serves and educates.
Regan Alloway
Regan Alloway
Explorers Site Coordinator 2nd & 3rd Grade
(703) 850-5103
Regan grew up in Virginia, spending much of her time outdoors building forts and riding bikes. Her family hiked together often all over Virginia and upstate New York, instilling in her a love for exploring in the woods. While earning her BS in Psychology, she worked as a summer camp counselor in Middleburg, VA, spent time with middle school and high school students in Newport News Public Schools, and worked with a youth ministry program in Washington, DC. After college, Regan served as an AmeriCorps VISTA Member/Leader for three years in Wilmington, NC and Richmond, VA. She has five years of experience working with local, regional, and statewide non-profits, especially in the field of homelessness. She spends much of her free time trail running, rock climbing, kayaking, and exploring all around the James River with her husband. Regan has two handsome cat children at home!
Ryan Hamlet
Ryan Hamlet
Adventure Program Manager
(804) 495-1413
Ryan moved to the Church Hill neighborhood in 2009 from Miami, FL. A North Carolina and Georgia native, Ryan grew up spending most of his time outdoors. He developed a love of backpacking, biking, paddling, and community service at an early age through his participation in the Boy Scouts of America, where he proudly earned his rank as an Eagle Scout. Ryan graduated with a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Georgia, and while there, served as a trip leader and canoeing committee chair for the Georgia Outdoor Recreation Programs. Ryan later founded the Cane’s Outdoor Recreation Programs at the University of Miami where he earned his MA in Latin American Studies. He served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in El Salvador focusing on Agroforestry, Beekeeping, and Environmental Science Education for 4 years. Ryan was the Manager of Water Sports and Director of Learn to Sail Camp at Shake A Leg Miami where he coached a sailing racing team of folks with disabilities. Most recently, Ryan taught middle school Social Studies at a Catholic school here in Richmond. Ryan is extremely excited to share his experience and passion to engage the urban youth of Richmond through outdoor adventures!
Brittany Bailey
Brittany Bailey
Assistant Adventure Program Manager
(804) 814-4443
Brittany grew up outside of Richmond. She discovered her love for the outdoors while attending James Madison University in the Shenandoah Valley. She studied anthropology, with a focus on humans and how they interact with the environment. Brittany spent the summer after graduating working with Blue Sky Fund’s Outdoor Leadership Institute. From there, she went on to work with the YMCA, Chesterfield County Parks & Recreation, and Riverside Outfitters. She spent this past summer working as a counselor for Riverside Outfitters’ tree climbing camp and is working on conquering her fear of heights. In her free time, Brittany enjoys hiking and exploring Richmond, sewing, reading, and playing with her two dogs. She is so excited to be returning to Blue Sky Fund and can’t wait to get outside!
Dustin Parks
Dustin Parks
Educator and OLI Program Manager
(540) 421-5417
Dustin grew up in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley on Massanutten Mountain, VA. He gained a love for the outdoors at a young age getting the opportunity to snowboard, mountain bike, and hike right off of his front porch! Upon finishing high school, he started to really understand the value and peace the outdoors brought to his life. In 2006, Dustin hopped on a bike and rode across the country from Virginia to California, which gave him a completely new perspective on his life and future. Traveling for the next 6 years, he gained an appreciation for different cultures and communities. He thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2009 picking up skills and ideas from all of the wonderful people he met along the way. Dustin moved to Richmond in 2013 with his wife, Lindsay, and started volunteering at Blue Sky Fund. They moved to Church Hill in 2014 to live, work and worship in the same community. Dustin is so thankful to work with and learn from the students each day. He loves that his job involves doing the things that he would be doing in his free time!
Sarah Jane DeHart
Sarah Jane DeHart
Operations and Volunteer Coordinator
(804) 213-2464
Sarah Jane hails from the great state of North Carolina where she attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go Heels!) studying Anthropology and a little bit of biology. Her love of the outdoors started and grew at a summer camp in Ontario, Canada where she both attended as a camper and worked as a counselor from the age of 11 through university. She returned for a final summer at camp after graduating in May of 2013 and before heading to Rwanda where she taught and explored the mountains with friends. Sarah Jane moved to Richmond in August of 2014 to be an intern at Church Hill Activities and Tutoring where she learned a deep love for the youth of Church Hill and the joy of living and working in close community with others. She is unbelievably excited to join the Blue Sky team and for the opportunity to share all there is to learn outside with the youth of Richmond!

“Nature offers healing for a child living in a destructive family or neighborhood. It serves as a blank slate upon which a child draws and reinterprets the culture’s fantasies. Nature inspires creativity in a child by demanding visualization and the full use of the senses.”

- by Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.

Our Board of Directors

President: Matt Perry

President/Co-Owner, Riverside Outfitters, Inc.

Vice President: Debbie Edwards

Manager, Talent Management,

Treasurer: Logan Vetrovec

Director, Health Sciences Community Engagement, VCU

Secretary: Andy Thompson

Website Owner, Richmondoutside.com and Terrain360.com

Bernly Bressler

Associate Vice President, Electric Power Generation and Transmission Market Sector Leader, AECOM

Sheri Crowell

Independent Project Manager

Emily Gottwald

Community Volunteer

Ryan Mauter

Lead Consultant and Facilitator, The Frontier Project 

Connell Mullins

Shareholder, SpottsFain

Brad Nott

Senior VP, Xenith Bank

Sallie Pruitt

Director of Marketing, Commonwealth Commercial Partners, LLC

Carl Sorensen

Associate VP of Human Resources, University of Richmond 

Tiffany Hall Terry

Director of Community Engagement, CARITAS

Ty Toepke

Executive Director, Richmond Public Schools Education Foundation

Amanda Tornabene

Director, Gas Environmental Services, Dominion Energy  

Charles Valentine

Co-Founder, Q Customer Intelligence