Recreation Scholarships

About the Scholarship Program: 

The John Fleis Scholarship Program is a financial assistance program available to all City of Onalaska residents. The City of Onalaska Parks and Recreation Department believes that all citizens should have the opportunity to participate in City sponsored recreation and leisure programs, regardless of financial status. Scholarships may be applied towards the purchase of season pool passes, swim lessons, and other recreational programs run solely by the Parks and Recreation Department. Some activities are exempted from the reduction in fees where the program cost is set outside of the Parks and Recreation Department. Inquire with department for program specifics. 

Persons requesting scholarships must complete the appropriate application form and submit all necessary documents to the Parks and Recreation Department. Applications are reviewed and evaluated individually. All applications and related materials are kept confidential. Applicants will be notified of their scholarship status within two weeks of submission. For additional details and application criteria, please review the "Scholarship Information and Criteria" document that is linked at the bottom of this page. 

Should you or your family be awarded a scholarship, you will be given a Scholarship ID card. Any programs or memberships you wish to use your scholarship for must be paid for in person at the Onalaska Parks and Recreation office using your City issued Scholarship ID card.

If any resident is in need, or knows of a family in need of financial assistance to help local children participate in City programming, they are encouraged to fill out an application. You may also call 9608-781-9560 for more information.

If you have further questions about the John Fleis Scholarship Program, please contact the Parks and Recreation office at (608) 781-9560 or email


How to Apply: 

Return the following forms and documents in person to the Onalaska Parks and Recreation office: 

  • A completed copy of the John Fleis Scholarship Application
  • Your most recent 1040 Income Tax Form*
  • A current driver’s license, a utility bill, bank statement, or lease to verify residency within the City of Onalaska.


Please do NOT send your application or 1040 income tax form via email. Applications must be renewed annually and completed in person at the Parks and Recreation office. 


*Why do we need this information?

The John Fleis Scholarship Program is income based. Proof of financial need must be demonstrated to qualify for scholarship programs. Additional items such as excessive medical bills, or other unusual and burdening financial circumstances may also be considered. Exceptions to this include Big Brother/Big Sisters who are signing up their Little Brother/Sister for programs.


The John Fleis Legacy: 

John Fleis graduated from La Crosse Central HS and then from UW-La Crosse. In 1945 he became a teacher and a high school coach in the Madison area. In 1959 he quit teaching and moved back to Onalaska where he started his own insurance agency.

His love for sports and coaching led him to start the Onalaska Parks & Recreation Department in the early 1960s. With the help of many volunteers, tennis, basketball, baseball and golf were some of the initial programs offered. After a few years of running the program with volunteers, the City of Onalaska took over and hired its first director.

Upon John's passing in 2009, the family established the John Fleis Youth Scholarship Fund for the Onalaska Parks & Recreation Department to provide financial assistance for families of the community to participate in the Parks & Rec programs.


Want to donate?

The John Fleis Scholarship Program is sustained entirely by proceeds from events like the Fleis Nightfall Frolic and by donations from businesses and community members like you! If you are interested in donating to the John Fleis Scholarship Fund, please contact the Department of Parks and Recreation at 608-781-9560 or email


Visit our Sponsorship Page for more ways to support Recreation, Leisure and Conservation in Onalaska.