Philanthropy Spotlight – The Godman Guild Association

Serving the Greater Columbus community since 1898, the mission of the Godman Guild

syep3Association is to promote strong families and strong communities in Columbus, Ohio, primarily focusing on the near Northside.

Godman Guild is involved in broad-based human services. However, our focus is on education and employment resulting in strong families and strong communities. We are addressing the need that program participants have for obtaining a GED, furthering education, basic skills and workplace education, job training and career development.

We are ensuring that each child perform successfully at each grade level. These incremental successes will increase the likely hood that each child will not only graduate from high school but will graduate with a plan to guarantee future living wage employment.

In addition, the Guild owns and operates Camp Mary Orton (CMO). CMO is host to the Leadership and Challenge Center, a full range of ground and high ropes initiatives designed to promote team work and problem solving, as well as a therapeutic Wilderness Bond program. CMO also is the host facility for the Guild’s Summer Youth Empowerment Program.


SYEPGodman Guild Association has been providing quality, award winning experiential outdoor day camping during the summer for under resourced youth from the inner city for over 100 years. Our current model incorporates the social skill building of a typical summer camp experience with an academic bridge focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curicullum that insures that our campers do not lose academic ground gained the year. These two seemingly separate camp experiences are actually interwoven into the camp day providing a holistic learning experince that blends the fun of summer nature experinces with a learning program that will set each child up for success in the upcoming school year and beyond.

Current Programs and Activities

Programs through Godman Guild are centered on Educational Attainment, Economic Development, Health & Wellness and Community Engagement:

Youth & Family Education programs are based on academic skill attainment and career development for youth of all ages. Godman Guild’s YFE department is working together with community partners to develop community-wide strategies designed to enhance Central Ohio’s education and workforce development efforts at developing a globally competitive science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce.

Workforce Development programs offer an array of employment, adult education and support services designed to promote economic self-sufficiency. Collaboratively we established the Columbus ABLE Consortium, a group of six Franklin County Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE) providers with Godman Guild as the fiscal and reporting agency for Ohio Board of Regents.

Camp Mary Orton focuses on promoting personal and team growth through adventure-based activities. Situated on 167 acres in north Columbus, Camp Mary Orton has been an extension of the Guild’s Near North Side campus since 1910. Every year, more than 10,000 individuals and families benefit from camp services and amenities through these following programs:

  • Leadership & Challenge Center
  • Wilderness Bond
  • Adventure Academy
  • Indoor Activity and Conference Center

All programs and services provide the necessary revenue to keep camp operational for summer Guild youth programs. Camp Mary Orton is an invaluable resource that contributes to the mission of Godman Guild.

Why S.Y.E.P?

Godman Guild’s Summer Youth Empowerment Program (S.Y.E.P) serves children and families that live primarily live in the predominantly African-American neighborhood of Weinland Park, in which 48% live below poverty level with a median household income of $17,558.

The students that attend Weinland Park Elementary are performing below grade level, 91.8% are black non-Hispanic, 92.3% are economically disadvantaged and 19% of students with disabilities. Weinland Park Elementary was awarded a School Improvement Grant in 2010 because of its ranking as a lowest-performing 5 percent school in Ohio. Weinland Park Elementary has been termed a failing school for 6 out of the 7 years it has been in operation.

S.Y.E.P. demographics show that 89% of S.Y.E.P. campers are economically disadvantaged, 90% are black non-Hispanic and the majority performs below grade level. The majority of Godman Guild’s Youth & Family Services participant families are single parent or grandparent households.

Godman Guild’s Summer Youth Empowerment Program (S.Y.E.P.) provides youth ages 5 – 15 with a fun, safe and enriching environment during the hot summer months when youth without positive activities, in which to participate, tend to become involved in criminal and risky behaviors. Research also indicates that during the summer children lose 25% of what they’ve learned during the school year without educationally enriching activities to keep them stimulated and learning.

At the camp, children are provided two meals a day and a nutritious snack. Youth participate in all of the traditional summer camp activities, including swimming lessons, hiking, arts and crafts, and hiking in and exploring nature, while developing social learning and positive socialization skills. In addition, the Guild engages each camper in math, reading and science learning activities that help to bridge the summer learning gap.

Numbers served:

This year we served 180 students not including the Junior Staff team made up of former campers that have aged out of the program but remain as staff members to support the summer camp experience. The Junior Staff experience includes a rigorous interview process (job readiness skills), and an extensive training period (career exploration) as well as a modest stipend (financial literacy) for their work.