The Reno Rodeo Foundation was originally incorporated as a private foundation in 1986 to serve as the charitable arm of the Reno Rodeo. The Reno Rodeo Foundation was reclassified as a 501(c)3 Public Charity in 2004. The Rodeo, produced yearly by community volunteers since 1919, wanted to formalize the tradition of giving back to the community and residents of Northern Nevada. The Board of Trustees was strategically established as a balanced combination of rodeo volunteers and local leaders from outside the rodeo community, instructed through it’s bylaws to give scholarships and grants and to maintain various endowments for future use.
During the first 26 years of the Foundation’s history, funding came almost solely from the Reno Rodeo Association. The select Board of Trustees oversaw the distribution of hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships to the University of Nevada, Reno – primarily for students coming from rural Nevada; as well as a comparable amount in grants to non-profit organizations.
The Foundation further broadened its scope in 2001 with an ambitious project to build a horseback riding facility for Marvin Picollo School, a school in Reno, for children with special physical or mental needs. The project brought private individuals, other local foundations and businesses into partnership with the Reno Rodeo Foundation for the first time. The project was so successful that the Reno Rodeo Foundation led a second capital campaign to build a recreation center on the Kids’ Kampus to benefit abused and neglected children in protective custody. This 2.6 million dollar project was completed in 2008. The Kid’s Kampus Activity Center contains a gymnasium, computer lab and two classrooms.
Today, the Reno Rodeo Foundation still represents the generous heart and soul of over 500 Reno Rodeo volunteers who produce the area’s biggest and longest-running annual professional sports event. With the increase in scope and activity seen in recent years, the Rodeo Foundation has become more than just the Rodeo’s charity arm.
The organization annually assists students with undergraduate educational scholarships at universities and colleges in Nevada, or out-of-state if the degree is not offered in Nevada, provides thirty to forty local non-profit organizations with well-deserved grants to support their programs, chooses a child with critical illness or physical/mental impairments to receive a special “Rodeo Wish,” conducts a “Denim Drive” in 14 Northern Nevada counties each November/December to clothe neglected, abused and abandoned children rescued from unsafe homes and serves as the anchor for large capital projects to improve the lives of children. The Reno Rodeo Foundation is committed to leveraging community partnerships, putting financial resources to the highest impact use possible and establishing an identity as a major supporter for local children’s services in Northern Nevada.