Our Grants

2021-2022 Outdoor Grants

Audubon Texas

Audubon Texas

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.

Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute

  • Website: cnay.org
  • Grant Amount: $30,000

We are experiencing a pivotal time in the national fight to combat climate change and enhance climate education. Our nation is witnessing loss of access to traditional hunting and fishing grounds, an inability to grow traditional crops, and lack of green spaces. The Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) at the Aspen Institute is a national education and advocacy organization that works alongside Native youth—ages 24 and under—on reservations, in rural villages and urban spaces across the country to improve their health, safety, and overall well-being.

It is imperative to recognize the intersection of outdoor recreation, ceremony, culture, elders, youth, and education in building effective Native-led solutions for our world. CNAY's new program, the Cante Tinza Fellowship, brings Native youth to the center of solutions to our climate crisis through culturally-driven programming, coalition building, and liberation from oppressive systems. The work of Cante Tinza ensures that climate education and action does not leave behind or neglect the first stewards of this land. This cross-cultural initiative focuses on developing a youth-driven community of practice and on increasing understanding of Indigenous connection to nature.

Black Outside

Black Outside

The Prison Industrial Complex and climate change are two of the most pressing issues of our time. Climate change disproportionately affects poor communities of color, which is especially pertinent in Texas. Additionally, more than 5 million children in the U.S. have had a parent in prison at some point in their lives, including 477,000 youth in Texas. Yet, there are hardly any support structures for youth impacted by incarceration. The systemic consequences of having an incarcerated parent include social and emotional challenges, critical health outcomes, housing and caregiver instability, financial hardship, and lower educational opportunities and outcomes. To address aspects of both of these issues (climate change and incarceration), Black Outside’s Bloom Project serves youth of color impacted by the incarceration system by creating spaces of communal healing through healing-centered outdoor experiences and culturally-relevant education.

The Bloom Project supports youth in envisioning new possibilities for their lives, for their communities, and for our planet. It is a year-round program that expands access to the outdoors and communal healing through activities like community gardening, kayaking, hiking, camping, and backpacking while creating space for youth to learn and talk about issues relevant to their lives. Participation in the Bloom Project improves youths' well-being, increases youths’ sense of agency, and grows their affinity for the environment. 

Children's Forest of Central Oregon

Children’s Forest of Central Oregon

Latinos are the largest minority population in Central Oregon; however, they utilize the recreational opportunities available in the region at a much lower rate than their white counterparts. A 2020 report from the Latino Community Association highlighted many of the issues facing the local Latino community. A distinct finding is that this population is accessing mental health-based services at much lower levels. The data also identifies that Latino teens are struggling more than their white peers in education, teen pregnancy, bullying, and harassment at school, and experience higher levels of depression and suicide attempts. The Children’s Forest of Central Oregon, a network of 33 public and non-profit organizations, recognizes the mental health and physical health benefits associated with being in nature and engaging in outdoor-based recreational activities. Through its new program, Vámonos Outside, the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon is working to connect Latino teens, who historically have not had opportunities, resources, or cultural representation, to access outdoor activities that can have a positive effect on their self-esteem and sense of belonging.

Vámonos Outside provides 40 days of outdoor recreation programming, over three seasons, for Latinx and BIPOC teens. The culturally-specific outdoor programming focuses on self-esteem, building positive relationships, fostering a sense of belonging, and connecting to nature through adventure sports. Vámonos Outside builds a tight-knit and supportive community through ongoing programming throughout the year. Participants engage in high-quality instruction that builds over time in skiing and snowboarding, mountain biking, paddle sports, and camping. 

Community Nature Connection

Community Nature Connection

Historically underrepresented communities in Los Angeles have been denied access to the outdoors in overt and covert ways, including: lack of access to federal and state institutions that have legitimized the holding and management of unceded lands of Native and tribal groups; lack of public transportation to beaches and mountains; lack of easily accessible information regarding how to access these sites and culturally relevant points of interest for youth; lack of access to parks and careers found within; and lack of meaningful interpretive programs that connect community to place through identity. Community Nature Connection (CNC) works to increase access to the outdoors for communities impacted by racial, socio-economic, and disability injustices by eliminating existing barriers through advocacy, community centered programming, and workforce development.

Community Nature Connection found that the best way to approach these interconnected issues and barriers was to develop a multifaceted program that takes its participants from the first recreation access trips to gaining experience and skills in outdoor settings that improve connections to the outdoors and strengthen community relationships. CNC’s new Outdoor Access Leadership Program engages youth participants between the ages of 18-24 through parkland visits and social and emotional learning, educational and interpretive programs, and outdoor activities like hiking, team building, and camping. The youth will participate in an extended program that covers themes such as Orientation & Outdoor Skills, Ecology & Interdependence, Nature Journaling & Resilience, Stewardship & Community Care, and Community Building & Organizing.

Cool Learning Experience

Cool Learning Experience

Illinois’ Waukegan School District serves a racial and ethnic diverse student population that is at-risk and in need of supplemental services that address the whole child. Cool Learning Experience (CLE) is meeting is meeting this need. CLE nurtures children’s well-being with robust and innovative learning programs that foster healthy relationships between families, community, and the natural world. CLE students develop a love for the outdoors by participating in eco-excursions and outdoor experiences (in local forest preserves, state parks, community gardens, and lakes, rivers, and ravines) and environmental stewardship.

During CLC's summer program, its Young Explorers (2-3 graders) focus on social and emotional learning skills as well as awareness and appreciation for nature and sustainability best practices. The Green Team (4-5 graders) expands on social awareness by including weekly service learning in a community garden and using the CLE raised bed gardens as learning laboratories. The freshly harvested vegetables are donated to local food pantries and faith communities for distribution to the families, especially those experiencing food insecurity. Planet Protectors (6-7 graders) continue with green learning by using the Lake Michigan watershed as a springboard for environmental awareness, advocacy, and community action, including examining current water issues through a justice-centered lens. CLE’s eldest students, Career Pathways My Pathways (8-9 graders), boost their awareness by interviewing local and regional civic leaders and heighten their sense of self-efficacy through an oral history project, Talking the Wauk (which focuses on the Waukegan lakefront and its surrounding communities).

Cultivating Community

Cultivating Community

The best way to maximize the value of outdoor garden classrooms is to ensure programming is part of the school experience in a consistent and reliable way, supported by the school district and integrated into the annual curriculum. Portland Public Schools (PPS) is Maine’s largest and most diverse urban school district, with more than 1,400 students identified as English Language Learners. Within PPS, there are significant gaps between economically disadvantaged students and more advantaged students. PPS has prioritized equity and is working to remove and actively repair these inequities in order to support each student’s particular path to achieving high standards. Cultivating Community’s (CC) partnership with PPS helps address these issues.

Cultivating Community grows sustainable communities by: expanding access to healthy, local food; empowering children, youth, and adults to play diverse roles in restoring the local, sustainable food systems; and modeling, teaching, and advocating for ecological food production. In conjunction with PPS, CC’s school gardens and youth development programs ensure that students have consistent outdoor learning every week, which increases equity by connecting kids of various socioeconomic, citizenship status, and race backgrounds to a consistent and meaningful outdoor learning connection. CC’s work enables more students to reap the known benefits of consistent, outdoor classrooms; provide a greater understanding of the interconnectedness of all living things; increase preference for choosing fruits and vegetables at meal time; increase appreciation for the diversity within humanity and all nature; and improve attitude toward school and learning through positive engagements in outdoor learning spaces associated with their schools. 

Eden Place

Eden Place Nature Center

Fuller Park has long been one of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods. This community has Chicago's highest unemployment rate, second highest poverty rate, second lowest per capita income, and fourth highest homicide rate. Its youth are often forced to resort to illegal activities, such as selling drugs and other petty crime, in order to provide for their basic needs. Fuller Park Community Development Corporation (FPCD) works to stabilize a neighborhood on the verge of collapse, addressing the housing, education, and environment issues that have kept the Fuller Park community in poverty, illiteracy, and despair.

FPCD's Eden Place Nature Center educates local residents about nature, the environment they live in, outdoor recreation and how the community can engage with all of these to improve the quality of life, not only for the neighborhood but for others in the city and beyond as well. Outdoor Adventurers is an enhancement of one existing Eden Place program—Leaders in Training, which took place for the first time in 2021. Leaders in Training reaches middle and high school-aged youth and has three main areas of focus: learning about nature, conservation, and related careers; engaging in the entrepreneurial endeavor of growing produce and then selling it at local farmers markets; and participating in community service and leadership training. Youth served through Outdoor Adventures gain knowledge, skills, and experience in outdoor adventures such as hiking, fishing, and camping. They participate in lessons focused local ecosystems, go on outdoor excursions such as camping and fishing (with an emphasis on responsible and environmentally-sound practices), and attend community service workdays focused on cultivating nature in the urban environment.

Environmental Learning for Kids

Environmental Learning For Kids

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.

FITaos

Field Institute of Taos

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

Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida

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.

GirlVentures

GirlVentures

Evidence shows that throughout childhood, girls and boys report similar levels of self-esteem. However, in adolescence, girls’ self-esteem peaks by the age of nine and then sharply drops. While facing conflicting messages about feminine behavior and their appearances, girls often stop stating their true opinions and feelings—giving up their authentic voice. Research also shows the physical and mental health value of being immersed in the outdoors, especially for adolescent girls. Girls (especially girls from marginalized communities) often face barriers to outdoor activities, including a lack of access to safe environments, transportation, and the economic means to participate in fee-based programs. GirlVentures works to overcome these barriers through its mission to inspire girls to lead through outdoor adventure, inner discovery, and collective action.

GirlVentures’ Leadership Progression Model allows girls to participate in outdoor immersion and leadership programs beginning in 6th grade and culminates with professional development opportunities at the end of high school. The summer programs include 1 to 2-week expedition courses for 6-12th graders. Girls and gender nonconforming youth experience the wonders of the Northern California wilderness during expeditions that combine backpacking, kayaking, and rock climbing with social-emotional curriculum focusing on the environment, health, social justice, and leadership. These courses increase participants’ individual connections to nature and provide up to 300 hours of programming per participant per year, ensuring deep investment in each girl. The school year programs strengthen leadership and introduce the girls to outdoor activities including, kayaking, rock climbing, and backpacking, while connecting them with nature and learning from mentors and each other.

Greater Newark Conservancy

Greater Newark Conservancy

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

Outdoors Empowered Network

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.

Outward Bound Adventures

Outward Bound Adventures 

California-based Outward Bound Adventures (OBA) exists to change the lives of high-risk and underserved youth of color through fun and challenging outdoor learning experiences. Its vision is that youth from diverse low-income communities will have access to nature, outdoor education, environmental education, leadership development and preparation for careers in conservation. Its Outdoor Recreation & Environmental Studies Expeditions (OR-ESE), an expansion of its ongoing OBA program, is a series of stimulating, outdoor recreational camping and backpacking trips that occur year-round. These theme-based trips range from one-day hikes to 20+ day expeditions.

Using a small cohort format and the wilderness as a classroom, each course of the outcome-driven, culturally-relevant, trauma-informed OR-ESE program is designed to help participants become more resilient, altruistic, socially responsible, and healthier, while increasing their self-image and self-mastery. The curriculum creates a growth mindset (perseverance in the face of challenge) and awareness of metacognition (thinking about how they are thinking). These two skills are crucial for moving past barriers in life. The ultimate goal is to provide youth with the tools that franchise them into the daily conversations and decisions that directly impact them and engage them in settings that redirect their focus towards much bigger issues that serve to create purpose and value in their lives. OBA’s  curriculum embodies six core values: community, leadership, physical challenge, environmental and cultural literacy, and stewardship ethics. Most of the youth that will be involved with OR-ESE have never hiked among forests, camped under the stars, or placed their feet in an icy stream.

Rippleffect

Rippleffect

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.

Rocking the Boat

Rocking the Boat

Rocking the Boat serves the neighborhoods of the South Bronx, vibrant but historically and physically marginalized BIPOC communities. Among institutionalized obstructions, youth lack access to specialized science education facilities and programs compared with schools in other neighborhoods, a factor in the vast underrepresentation of POC in fields of scientific study and professions. This area also suffers from limited opportunities for outdoor activities, from both inadequate spaces and environmental damage. In a community plagued by multiple environmental threats but lacking the voice or resources to address them, Rocking the Boat’s Environmental Science Program uses hands-muddy activities in student-built boats to connect participants to the Bronx River in their backyard and equip them with the skills to take part in research and conservation projects with local, state, and national organizations.

Rocking the Boat’s intensive Environmental Science Program provides both outdoor access and applied science content for teenagers in South Bronx. It runs year-round on a three-semester calendar. Grounding lessons in exploration of the neighborhood waterway and giving them an important role in its restoration, the teens develop environmental awareness and the skills to become stewards of their local natural spaces. Activities centered on small boats and local waters are the unique vehicles Rocking the Boat uses to affect profound changes in the lives of young people and the vitality of their community. Rocking the Boat captivates and challenges young people, exposes them to new experiences, and shows them they are capable of doing things they never imagined, or only dreamed of. In doing so the youth develop the technical, social, and emotional skills to replicate the successes they have in the boatbuilding shop and on the water in their personal, academic, and professional lives.

Sicangu Community Development Corporation

Sicangu Community Development Corporation

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.

Tree Street Youth

Tree Street Youth

Tree Street Youth is a Lewiston, Maine-based community of youth and adults who use their diverse lived experiences and collective empowerment to co-create youth-centered programs and partnerships that encourage leadership, learning, exploration, and growth. Despite living in Maine, many of its participants have not had opportunities to experience the beauty of the state’s lakes, forests, and mountains. Most of its families have limited access to transportation or funds for environmental recreation, if they are even aware of the experiences available. In addition, a majority of the youth that Tree Street Youth serves identify as youth of color, who often have far less contact with outdoor experiences. Due to stereotype or projected biases, they (and often their parents) do not see these experiences as something they "do,” "should be interested in," or most often “could never afford.”

Tree Street Youth is expanding its outdoor exposure for youth in grades pre-K-12 by utilizing novel outdoor experiences to counter the many challenges youth face growing up in underserved communities. It builds these opportunities into regular programming so that youth of every age and experience have outdoor experiences, from a guided walk to the local river, hiking, swimming to multi-day excursions for older youth. No matter how big or small the opportunities are, these experiences are critical to social-emotional growth, as well as relationship building, both amongst the youth themselves and with adults. Through these outings, Tree Street Youth accompanies youth outside their traditional comfort zone and supports their personal and social-emotional growth as well as fosters a love of the environment. These outdoor experiences will challenge youth to learn new skills and develop an appreciation for nature as well as the confidence to seek opportunities on their own and with their families.

Trekkers

Trekkers

Maine-based Trekkers serves 7-12 grade students from its rural six-town service area (Rockland, South Thomaston, Cushing, Owls Head, Thomaston, and St. George). The challenges Trekkers students face growing up in rural and homogeneous communities have been summarized as an opportunity gap. Despite living in small towns, this gap stems from youth feeling a disconnect from their communities and lacking the resources, opportunities, and enrichment experiences to develop aspirational goals. They have limited opportunities for positive adult-youth connections in the community, their strengths are not nurtured and lifted up, and they experience challenges that aren’t addressed or supported by peers, family, schools, or community. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is widening the opportunity gap and having a devastating impact on their social, emotional, and mental wellbeing.

Throughout Trekkers’ six-year Core Expedition Program students plan expeditions, explore interests, try new things, learn about other perspectives, see a world of possibility, and develop a sense of agency. Much of the student experience is held in outdoor wilderness settings, so students come to enjoy, respect, and appreciate the natural world as well as their role in it. The Trekkers' experience starts in 7th grade and commences in 12th grade. During the first year, students travel to Acadia National Park and build foundational relationships and basic outdoor skills they will use throughout the program. In eighth through twelfth grade, teens meet monthly to plan expeditions and in between for activities and one-to-one mentoring with staff and volunteer mentors. Students use consensus decision-making to set their own academic and behavioral requirements and to plan trip activities. Every year, programs fulfill five educational components: Environmental Education, Cultural Awareness, Community Service, Wilderness, and Adventure or Challenge.

Wilderness Inquiry
Photo by Christine Rettler for Wilderness Inquiry

Wilderness Inquiry

Experiences in nature improve physical and emotional health, increase confidence, and facilitate deep and meaningful connections to our environment and fellow citizens. Unfortunately, many communities, including urban populations, people who identify as BIPOC, and individuals with disabilities, face barriers to accessing the outdoors. Through Canoemobile and other youth programming, Minnesota-based Wilderness Inquiry provides an important framework for investing in positive mental, physical, and emotional health outcomes for its diverse community of participants.

Canoemobile is a tool to change the narrative of outdoor representation and access by directly connecting diverse youth to place-based programming on public lands and waterways. The program engages youth to improve school performance, cultivates a stewardship ethic, and creates pathways to pursue educational and career opportunities in the outdoors. Wilderness Inquiry works with dozens of multi-sector partners (including schools, state and federal agencies, non-profits, and others) to conduct activities that include canoeing, environmental education, and experiential learning around STEM, history, and language arts. For 80% of participants, Canoemobile is their first outdoor experience. Canoemobile is expanding its programming in East Coast communities, including New York City, Newark, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., to engage more youth in hands-on recreational and educational opportunities.

Wilderness Works

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.

YES

YES Nature to Neighborhoods

Richmond, California contains 6,528 acres of green space and 31 miles of shoreline, yet many families face barriers in accessing these spaces. Children, youth, and families with limited access to the outdoors and outdoor programming are denied the significant benefits of time spent in nature. YES Nature to Neighborhoods’ (YES) programs provide equitable access to nature by eliminating many of the cultural, logistical, and financial barriers that prevent urban youth from accessing and benefitting from the outdoors by designing programs with leadership and input from participants and by providing low-cost/no cost activities that reflect the interests of participants. 

YES’ Pathways to the Outdoors program is part of its Youth Leadership Pathway (YLP), a ten-year journey that begins with a week of nature-based summer camp. The program has four age-based cohorts: Explorers (ages 8-10), Rangers (11-13), Camp-to-Community (C2C) Leaders (14-15) and Fellows (16- 18). Each cohort receives essential access to outdoor recreation, hands-on experiential learning that connects underrepresented youth more deeply to nature and develops outdoor leadership and peer mentorship skills. 

Youth Opportunities Unlimited

Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) has always met an important need in New Bedford, Massachusetts, by offering youth the opportunity to learn how to ride a bicycle and how to use it as a tool to explore and learn about the surrounding environment. Over the past two years, the pandemic has reinforced the importance of its programming and for children to have regular opportunities to explore nature, get outside in the fresh air, and nurture their social and emotional development. For many of New Bedford's parents, a lack of transportation cuts them off to surrounding programs. YOU removes that barrier since all of its programming is located in New Bedford’s south end, within the city limit and on a public bus route.

YOU’s year-round programming provides participants important opportunities to get outside, move their bodies, get their hands dirty and spark their curiosity, all through trusting relationships with mentors. The programs are free to families and participants, providing families with safe and accessible programming where children can explore nature, gain new experiences, and be exposed to new ideas and perspectives, while strengthening their confidence and resiliency. Programming includes Explore Your Environment (EYE) Program (summer), Urban Explorers (spring/fall), Winter INdoor Discoveries (WIND), Food For Thought Cooking Program (winter), and its Bicycle Repair & Maintenance Program (spring/fall).

YMCA of Greater Seattle

YMCA of Greater Seattle

Now more than ever, young people need experiences that offer ways to build resilience, release stress and grow in community with others. The YMCA of Greater Seattle is the home base for the BOLD & GOLD National Team, which leads and supports programs (at partner YMCAs across the United States) that offer young people a place of respite and a connection to nature, where they can build resilience and positive identity in a wilderness setting.

The BOLD & GOLD National Team continues to respond to an overwhelming need for thoughtful, culturally-responsive, and nuanced wellness curriculum. They use data to support strong Social Emotional Learning (which leads to better mental health outcomes) to inform the creation of the curriculum and resources as well as to update trainings. The National Team also supports the BOLD & GOLD programs by training program directors and instructors, creating national partnerships, providing a platform for sites to work together on common issues and ensuring the quality and sustainability of each program. This structure allows them to tailor new BOLD & GOLD programs to the unique needs of youth in the different communities served.