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.

  • 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.
Blue Sky aims to serve school-aged children, with a strategic focus on youth from Richmond’s East End neighborhoods.

  • We currently serve in 8 Richmond City Public Schools by providing 2nd through 5th grade field trips to 1600 students every month (98% of whom qualify as low-income and 70% of whom are in the East End).
  • We lead weekly adventure clubs at 6 sites, serving about 60 middle school students (97% of whom qualify as low-income and 85% 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.

The Transformation

We will transform the inside…..by going outside

From idle…..to active

From a tough exterior…..to a strong interior

From self-centered…..to team oriented

From surviving the system…..to changing the community

From street smart…..to intellectually curious

From reactionary…..to responsible

From isolation…..to unity

From follower…..to trailblazer

From survival of the fittest…..to awe in the Creator

From dim opportunities…..to Blue Skies!

Click to view 2015 Annual Report

Click to view 2014 Annual Report

Click to view 2013 Annual Report

Click to view 2012 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 KunnenExecutive 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.
Erin O'Regan
Erin O'ReganDevelopment Director
(804) 410-4273
Erin came to Blue Sky in May of 2017, bringing with her a wealth of development experience, previously serving as the Director of Development at Sabot at Stony Point and as the Manager of Campaign Operations at the United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. Prior to becoming a development professional, Erin worked in advertising & marketing and utilizes those talents to help tell our story more creatively and effectively. Erin was recognized with the VAFRE (Virginia Association of Fundraising Executives) Rising Star Award in 2015 and has completed the Community Foundation’s Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program. Erin grew up in the Appalachian Foothills of North Georgia, attended Georgetown University, and served in the Peace Corps. She now lives in Midlothian with her husband and two young sons. She has a knack for remembering inane details about people she meets, is a sucker for inspirational quotes, and loves fancy coffee and tea. Erin is thrilled to work with such a committed team and advocate for the children of the East End.
Amanda Payne
Amanda PayneBusiness Manager
(804) 410-4273
Business Manager, Amanda 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 both utilizes her professional skills and experience as well as enables her passion to change kids’s lives through the outdoors. Amanda lives in Union Hill with her husband and two children.
Jenny Kuykendall
Jenny KuykendallAcademic Program Manager
(985) 285-9822
Jenny is originally from King George,VA. She developed a deep love of nature and water at an early age, having grown up playing in the Chesapeake Bay and the woods of the Appalachian Mountains. While as a camper and a counselor at Westview on the James, a camp in Goochland, VA, she developed a love of hiking, rock climbing and kayaking. She pursued her love of nature and water at Coastal Carolina University, where she earned her B.S. in Marine Science. She then went on to earn her M.S. in Geologic Oceanography at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she studied marsh geology, played in the mud, and enjoyed the diverse biology of Southern Louisiana and Mississippi. Jenny returns to Virginia after working at Tulane University (she ran the Quaternary Research and Sediment Dynamics laboratories) and a stint with the St. Louis YMCA’s Science Gone Mad program (she taught science to urban youth). Jenny is excited to be back in her home state and working with Blue Sky!
Laura Ingles
Laura InglesSite Coordinator - Explorers Program
(704) 287-5582
A North Carolina native, Laura Ingles grew up camping with her family and attending Girl Scout camp every summer. Since graduating from Virginia Tech in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in English, Laura has taken two distinct career paths: outdoor education and journalism. She dedicated a year and much of her sanity to the Discovery School of Virginia, a private wilderness boarding school for at-risk teenagers where she lived in a tent and worked with girls ages 11-18. She’s also worked as a copy editor, news reporter and section editor at two different Charlottesville newspapers, a freelance writer for a number of magazines, and program director of an outdoor organization for teenagers. After living and working in Charlottesville for more than four years it was time for a change, so in June 2016 she moved to Richmond and found her way to Blue Sky a few months later. Also a runner and Girl Scout troop leader, Laura lives in Church Hill with her sassy and slightly neurotic tortoiseshell cat Sooki.
Ryan Hamlet
Ryan HamletAdventure 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!
Sarah Jane DeHart
Sarah Jane DeHartVolunteer Coordinator and Program Instructor
(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!
Dustin Parks
Dustin ParksEducator and Program Instructor
(804) 396-2690
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!
Megan Holland
Megan HollandEducator and Program Instructor
(703) 786-7994
Megan revisited her passion for the outdoors in having the opportunity to work at the Phoebe Hall Knipling Outdoor Lab, a nature center operated for Arlington Public Schools, located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As a child she spent many school hours and summers there. Megan’s passions for the outdoors come from both her childhood experiences and from playing sports. Her studies at James Madison University in the field of International Relations allowed her to explore the political side of her passions. While engaging in International Relations seems so enticing to Megan, she realizes that there is so much to be learned from right here, in her own backyard. She is excited to share and learn more from Blue Sky Fund!
Brittany Bailey
Brittany BaileyProgram Instructor
(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!

“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.
804-822-8181
mattperry58@gmail.com

Vice President: Debbie Edwards
Manager Talent Management, CarMax

Treasurer: Charles Valentine
Co-founder, Q Intelligence

Secretary: Emily Gottwald
Community Volunteer

David Blanchard
Director of Client Services, Digital Benefit Advisors

Bernly Bressler
Branch Manager/Senior Project Manager, Environmental Resources Management

Sheri Crowell
Independent Project Manager

Rick DeJarnette
Management Consultant CapTech Ventures, Owner and Guide at www.climbtolearn.com

Connell Mullins
Shareholder, SpottsFain

Brad Nott
Senior VP, Xenith Bank

Kelly Tattersall
Community Volunteer

Tiffany Hall Terry
Director of Community Engagement, Caritas

Andy Thompson
Website Owner, Richmondoutside.com and Terrain360.com

Ty Toepke
Chief Growth Officer, The Frontier Project

Logan Vetrovec
Director, Health Sciences Community Engagement, VCU