In 1989, with assistance from the Gannett Foundation, KCFAA introduced an innovative summer program for middle school students in the Kansas City, Missouri School District. AileyCamp was designed to reach urban youth, using dance to develop their self-esteem, self-discipline, critical thinking skills and creativity.
KCFAA’s Board and staff, with the AileyCamp Committee, embarked upon planning for the expansion of AileyCamp into the neighboring Kansas City, Kansas School District in 1999. After meetings with USD500 School District officials KCFAA announced the plans to open a camp in the summer of 2000. That summer over 40 campers from USD500 attended a 2-week camp that was held at J.C. Harmon High School. Many other corporate, foundation, community, and individual donors came on board or increased their gifts to AileyCamp Missouri to sustain AileyCamp in Kansas City, Kansas. Each year, awareness of AileyCamp Kansas grows and more students apply for the program. Today more than 180 students attend AileyCamps in Kansas and Missouri. There are ten AileyCamps across the United States.
Among other awards and honors, in 2003, AileyCamp received the prestigious Coming Up Taller Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities and three federal agencies.