2021 Outdoor Grants
- Website: tx.audubon.org
- Grant Amount: $15,000
Racial minorities face many barriers to accessing outdoor learning and recreation, including affordability and access, safety concerns, and lack of childhood experiences in nature. This data stands in stark contrast to the growing body of evidence connecting time in nature to significant markers of well-being.
The Audubon Conservation Leaders (ACL) Program for Young Women stewards high school students from racially and socioeconomically diverse backgrounds for a year or more of conservation leadership experiences. Audubon Texas' camps connect participants with nature and each other, and provide opportunities for them to relax, explore, and reflect after their yearlong experience in the ACL program. The young women participate in hiking, team building, community service, astronomy, night hikes, and other after-dark activities. Summer camps are offered in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
Environmental Learning For Kids
- Website: elkkids.org
- Grant Amount: $15,000
Many youth from low-income communities in the Northeast Metro Denver area do not have access to outdoor recreation and extracurricular activities that develop life skills and leadership. Also, high school graduation rates for African American and Latino students in this area are lower than their white peers.
Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) works with a diverse community of learners from Northeast Metro Denver to cultivate a passion for science, leadership and service. It's core program, Denver Youth Naturally (DYN), intensively serves youth, ages 5-18, with interactive, outdoor recreational activities and environmental education. DYN connects these youth to the many outdoor recreational opportunities Colorado has to offer while introducing them to STEM learning experiences. DYN also provides the academic support needed to successfully complete school, as well mentoring from positive role models that offer consistent encouragement and monitoring of the youths' success, attitudes, and behavior. A community service component of the DYN program connects ELK youth to their communities and encourages their stewardship of Colorado’s natural resources and an appreciation for outdoor recreation and physical activities.
Field Institute of Taos
- Website: fitaos.org
- Grant Amount: $16,100
New Mexico-based Field Institute of Taos (FITaos) aims to inspire stewards of the environment who understand the multi-faceted value of the natural environment both as a sanctuary and as an opportunity for scientific research, physical challenge, exploration, beauty, and mental strength. Through developing a “sense of place” and a connection with the natural world in their backyard, youth become stewards of the environment and engage in a more active and proactive lifestyle, ultimately resulting in increased self-worth, confidence, resilience, future aspirations, and capacity for learning, as well as decreased obesity and community violence.
FITaos’ programs, for youth ages 6-18, offer active, hands-on learning experiences. Its Mountain Camp summer sessions focus on themes, such as archaeology, river ecology, wildlife biology, orienteering, etc., which are explored through hikes, field notes and drawings, organized activities, art projects, and games. Some sessions also include camping and backpacking trips as well as mountain biking and rock climbing. FITaos’ Letting Off STEAM after-school program is centered around outdoor exploration with topics in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math...all with a nature focus.
Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida
- Website: wildlifeflorida.org
- Grant Amount: $20,500
Participation in outdoor recreation, education and careers in Florida is not reflective of the demographics of the state. The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida is working through the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network (FYCCN) to increase diversity outdoors by reaching more participants from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds and including more historically underserved schools in its environmental education and outdoor activity pursuits.
Programs and activities designed to increase diversity will take place throughout the state, including the Project WILD and Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches (FSYR) programs. Project WILD, an on-site environmental education program, has the primary focus of engaging highly-diverse schools and districts and providing on-side training for educators using the WILD curriculum. Project WILD participants will also have the opportunity to field trips to the Joe Budd Youth Conservation Center.
At FSYR Camps, boys and girls experience many different therapeutic camping activities. Canoeing, archery, swimming, and other recreational activities allow them the opportunity to build basic teamwork and peer communication skills. The FSYR camps would are working to expand upon the environmental education program component and to instill outdoor knowledge and values in participating youth.
Greater Newark Conservancy
- Website: citybloom.org
- Grant Amount $15,000
The Greater Newark Conservancy’s (GNC) mission is to promote environmental stewardship to improve the quality of life in New Jersey’s urban communities, with a specific focus on the City of Newark. The majority of youth who participate in its Newark Youth Leadership Project (NYLP) would, otherwise, rarely have the opportunity to learn about the natural urban environment and how it affects their health and well-being.
NYLP's summer program provides Newark high school and college youth with outdoor education activities, employment experience (oftentimes their first), leadership development, and physical activity as they learn about environmental education, urban farming, horticulture, and entrepreneurial activities, all in an urban setting. The students engage in hands-on activities at the Conservancy’s outdoor project sites and by assisting in the operation of its inner-city mobile farm stand. NYLP participants develop marketable skills at a job site where they are placed based on their strengths and interests, work under the supervision of college mentors and Conservancy staff who take an interest in the success of their interns, and develop career goals through hands-on work experience.
Outdoors Empowered Network
- Website: outdoorsempowered.org
- Grant Amount: $15,000
Time outdoors can greatly impact health and wellness. However, numerous barriers exist that prevent inclusion in outdoor spaces, with the high cost of gear being one of the most universal barriers. Although well-made outdoor recreation gear like tents, backpacks and sleeping bags can last for many years, the initial investment can be overwhelming and thus prevent entry. Gear libraries provide a community-based solution to this problem by providing all of the basics to a family or program free or at greatly reduced costs. Outdoors Empowered Network (OEN) is dedicated to increasing access to and diversity in the outdoors through building equity-based tools and resources. Its national network of member-run gear libraries and outdoor leadership training dramatically decrease the barriers to outdoor recreation for low-income communities and communities of color.
OEN is currently focusing its outreach on primarily BIPOC communities that are interested in running a local gear library. Through this grassroots collaboration, the whole community is given new opportunities for outdoor access. A gear library for 15 can support 780 weekend camping trips a year! Participating youth will benefit from time spent in the local natural areas as well as from increased mentoring and skills development.
- Website: rippleffectmaine.org
- Grant Amount: $15,000
Casco Bay High School, in Portland, Maine, is the most culturally- and socio-economically diverse high school in the state. Many of it students are significantly underrepresented among those who engage in outdoor pursuits and, therefore, have limited exposure to the benefits of the positive emotional, behavioral, social, and intellectual development that comes from connecting with nature. Rippleffect is a centeral partner of CBHS in providing low-to-no barrier access to the outdoors.
Rippleffect takes CBHS’ entire Freshman and Senior classes on two separate week-long wilderness expeditions in the mountains of New England and the islands and waters of the Gulf of Maine. The students first embark upon this immersive wilderness expedition as freshman and then again as seniors, with the aim of exposing students to the many benefits of the outdoors within the frame of CBHS's core principals of instilling the Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships that students need to be both college and world ready. Through backpacking, ecology study, rock climbing, sea kayaking, and expedition base camping, Rippleffect works alongside CBHS faculty to build a positive school culture, foster personal growth, and expose students to challenge through the outdoors.
Sicangu Community Development Corporation
- Website: sicangucdc.org
- Grant Amount: $10,000
As a result of intergenerational trauma and colonial oppression, Lakota people suffer from some of the worst health outcomes (both physical and emotional) in the Western hemisphere. Life expectancy for people living on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota is more than 10 years less than the average across all of the United States. Sicangu Community Development Corporation (CDC) is addressing this epidemic through wellness-oriented youth summer camps, for children ages 7-17. The camps promote physical activity and outdoor recreation through activities such as hiking, wild food harvesting, assembling a tipi, participating in a buffalo harvest, lacrosse, and other activities designed to build a stronger connection to the land and foster a commitment to land stewardship.
The camp takes place during the summer at the Wolakota Buffalo Range, allowing youth to learn about the cultural importance of both buffalo and the land. This program is implemented through a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Rosebud. This pilot program is allowing Sicangu CDC to lay the groundwork for expanded camp programming in the future.
- Website: wildernessworks.org
- Grant Amount: $10,000
Wilderness Works (WW) strives to empower and guide homeless and under-resourced Atlanta children (elementary-ages 8 an up) toward more fulfilling futures with experiential education, cultural enrichment, and outdoor adventure. Inspired by the summer camp model, WW’s City Camp addresses important emotional and recreational needs through overnight camp programming that takes place primarily on weekends and school breaks.
City Camp incorporates exercise, outdoors, nutrition and friendship, and always includes a fun and educational off-campus field trip to area parks, museums, and recreation sites. The children show improved self-control, emotional regulation, relationships with adults and peers, and a new sense of optimism. During summer months the children attend weeks of summer camp in Georgia or North Carolina location. The majority of children stay in WW programming for more than five years with a significant increase in emotional stability as a result.