During the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Winter Meeting, the Reining Horse Foundation (RHF) Board of Directors met and approved significant expansion to two of its flagship programs: the Dale Wilkinson Memorial Crisis Fund and the RHF Scholarship program. Increased donor support in recent years has made it feasible for more dollars to be returned to the reining community, which is the heart of the RHF mission. In November 2022, the Board announced up to $250,000 in additional funding support for core programs with proposals to be brought forward from RHF standing committees. These program increases are the result. Additional plans are still being developed.
The Crisis Fund is designed to financially assist reiners enduring major hardships such as illness, injury, and disasters. At the recommendation of the Crisis Fund Review Committee, the Board approved new levels of financial support for Crisis Fund grants, which are available to NRHA members with at least 24 consecutive months of membership prior to applying.
Medical and injury accident applications will be considered for up to $7,500 in grant support, which is more than double the previous maximum of $3,600. Disaster applications will now be considered for up to $12,500 in aid, which also is more than double the former maximum of $6,000. The Board continues to reserve a special support category for the most extreme cases of hardship and can add additional funding to those most serious cases.
The Crisis Fund has awarded more than $275,000 in Crisis Fund grants since the inception of the program in 2002, standing in the gap for reining families around the world. On average, 75 percent of the grants go to NRHA Professionals, who, as self-employed workers, can face loss of income during a severe crisis. Beginning in 2020, NRHA Professionals began voluntarily providing Crisis Fund contributions when purchasing or renewing their NRHA memberships.
RHF funding comes from a broad cross-section of the equine community, including individuals, businesses, and foundations. NRHA affiliates, shows, and reiners of all ages hold creative and successful fundraisers to boost RHF programs in the areas of greatest need.
“This is a major increase to RHF programs thanks to the long-held dreams and work of this organization and its committed donors,” said RHF President Tim Anderson. “I am personally passionate about the Dale Wilkinson Memorial Crisis Fund and how it changes lives for people going through some of the worst times imaginable. I also believe that youth hold the keys to the future of reining. I am extremely proud of RHF for being able to positively impact more lives worldwide.”
RHF Scholarships are offered to high school seniors who demonstrate financial need, academic achievement, and involvement. A major expansion doubled the funding amounts in 2022; this increase will immediately raise the lower-level award amounts.
“I’ve been involved with RHF Scholarships since their inception,” said NRHA vice president and longtime RHF Board member Mike Hancock. “Being able to offer more and larger scholarships is very special. We know that education is important to the success of our young reiners in adulthood. These scholarships make the path easier for deserving young people.”
In 2023, 10 scholarships are available, including five $5,000 and three $2,500 awards. At the recommendation of the RHF Scholarship Committee, three previous $1,500 awards are increasing to $2,000 each, and the previous $1,000 John McQuay Memorial Scholarship will increase to $1,500.
In addition, a new set of scholarships will become available in 2024 for NRHyA members who are pursuing post-high school education. They include five $1,500 scholarships. The application criteria and timeline for those will be established and announced later.
For more information or to donate, visit reiningfoundation.com.