The nonprofit Monkey Gym tries to weather hard times

From the beginning, the nonprofit Monkey Gym has had the goal of helping children by offering specialty programs. But a little more than a year since its opening, the Monkey Gym is seeking a little help.

"I guess I was a little disillusioned that if we had a program out there that was helping a lot of kids, people would want to help," said co-founder Tony Cooper. "People said there were grants out there to be applied for or corporations out there that would sponsor us and help out."

The Monkey Gym, 1999 Whitney Mesa Drive, offers programs such as wrestling, gymnastics, cheerleading and art to all youths and children. The gym offers special rates for at-risk youths, low-income families and children who have experienced traumatic events.

"We are helping them heal without them even knowing it," said Kerry Cutler, co-founder and director of The Monkey Gym.

For the past year, about 500 children have joined the Monkey Gym.

"We had a lot of ups this year," Cooper said. "We have seen a difference made in children’s lives. We have been able to put on community events."

Cooper said some of his favorite times have been putting on fitness leagues for the community and having art students create murals around the city.

Despite the highlights of the past year, the threat of closure has loomed over the nonprofit.

From The Monkey Gym’s inception, Cutler and Cooper thought they could get sponsors to cover a single membership, about $40 a month, for a year. But that hasn’t been the case.

Cutler said she has sent letter upon letter to local and national corporations trying to set up meetings to explain the program or invite executives to the center. Some have gone unanswered.

Both Cutler and Cooper have attended social mixers and networking events to get the Monkey Gym’s name, and purpose, out to the community.

Cutler believes that because the organization is fairly new, people are still assessing whether it is here to stay before they contribute.

Besides financial contributions, the organization has other needs.

Cooper said even though the gym has opened its doors to low-income families, at times offering free classes to those who couldn’t afford anything, it still is hard for those members to attend because of transportation needs.

Thinking it would be an easy fix, Cooper and Cutler reached out to donors and corporations to see if anyone would donate at least two vans that would be used to pick up children . They are still waiting for this wish to be granted.

Other items they are still trying to secure include art supplies, equipment for cheerleading and gymnastics, office supplies and wrestling supplies.

Cutler said she has tried every route, including grants. 

"There are no grants available," Cutler said.

Cutler and Cooper, who also is a teacher at Basic High School, barely have time to seek or write grants.

"We have tried to hire a few grant writers," Cooper said, adding that most haven’t worked out.

Cutler said one step they could take to save the Monkey Gym would be to change the organization to a for-profit model.

If the organization turns into a for-profit model, Cutler said, it could apply for a small-business loan.

Cooper is hesitant about changing the model. He said he is worried that profit would take precedence over people.

"It would be a step in the wrong direction," Cooper said. 

But in the end, both are committed to saving the Monkey Gym. 

For more information or to make a donation, visit or call 586-1826.

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at or 387-5201.

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