Our Grants

2021 Trustee Grants

Current Year Grant Summary
In 2021, The National Recreation Foundation awarded 36 Trustee Grants totaling $714,237.

American YouthWorks

American YouthWorks

For 45 years, American YouthWorks has been a leader in education, workforce development and service opportunities for diverse and underserved populations. AYW provides youth and young adults opportunities to build careers, strengthen communities and improve the environment through education, on-the-job training, and service. Its programs teach new skills that address critical issues (such as homelessness, disaster response, environmental stewardship, and access to affordable housing and healthcare) with specific focus on young people who do not align with traditional educational and vocational training programs. In the “earn, learn, and serve" model, young people gain job skills while earning a paycheck, connect with community through service, and begin careers with on-site experience and certifications. Participants in AYW’s Texas Conservation Corps realize their full potential and effect positive change through service projects in Texas and South Central United States.


The Aspen Institute

Fresh Tracks is a multi-stakeholder initiative anchored by the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions with partners Native Americans in Philanthropy, Children & Nature Network, Center for Native American Youth, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, and the Opportunity Youth Forum. It aims to create a national network of Fresh Tracks youth movement leaders working to create systems shifts to improve youth civic engagement, wellbeing, and life outcomes through cross-sector collaboration. NRF funding supports Fresh Track’s ongoing Community Action Fund for youth and community driven solutions. The funding is dedicated to catalyzing and supporting events that are coordinated and planned by Fresh Tracks leaders to connect their communities to the healing powers of nature and time spent in outdoor recreation. Fresh Tracks provides young indigenous, rural, and urban diverse leaders with cross-cultural community power building, leadership development, civic engagement and action training.



Black and indigenous people of color are underrepresented in outdoor recreation. Despite Colorado's high level of participation in outdoor activities, outdoor spaces are not often accessible to communities of color. This is particularly true for snow sports. Snow sports such as skiing and snowboarding are quintessential Colorado activities, but they have a very high cost and a particularly low rate of participation among black and indigenous people of color. NRF funding supports Blackpackers’ Snow Sports Excursions pilot program, which helps eliminate barriers and increase access to the outdoors by covering the initial costs and by providing instruction to first time skiers and snowboarders. Participants will benefit by being introduced to a new form of recreation, which will result in increased health, confidence, and a sense of belonging in the Colorado outdoor recreation community. 

bradford woods IU 2020

Indiana University Bradford Woods Climbing Club

Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, are stressful or traumatic events occurring in childhood and are used to assess the long-term impact of abuse and household dysfunction on later-life health. Rural Indiana youth are exposed to a greater number of ACEs compared to their peers nationally.

Utilizing rock climbing as a therapeutic intervention, the Indiana University Bradford Woods Climbing Club is designed to enhance protective factors that promote resiliency against ACEs. Being exposed to positive role models while in a safe environment, adolescents can enhance skills to mitigate the impact of ACEs while fostering a connection to the outdoor environment. This process goes beyond traditional outdoor adventure programming, as a nationally certified therapist conducts individual assessments, plans and implements evidence-based interventions, and continuously evaluates the progress of the participant. All lessons throughout the program contain a debrief component, helping adolescents translate lessons learned to real-life skills.

Break Through Urban Ministries 2020

Breakthrough Urban Ministries

Breakthrough Urban Ministries is working in East Garfield Park, Ill., to partner with those affected by poverty to build connections, develop skills and open doors of opportunity. East Garfield Park is a neighborhood that is predominantly African American and low-income. The community is also challenged by gun violence.

Breakthrough’s Home Court program is a summer basketball tournament and community block party that seeks to engage youth in physical activity and positive skill-building and provide residents with a safe space to gather and build connections. NRF's support helps the Home Court program hold these programs and events that reclaim public space and use outdoor recreation to spread joy and positivity to more than 4,800 youth.

Brown Girl Surf

Brown Girl Surf

People of color, particularly women of color, face inequitable access to California’s beaches, ocean and surfing. Brown Girl Surf works to address barriers to ocean and surf access by creating opportunities for girls, women, and gender nonconforming individuals to develop a close relationship with each other, the ocean and surfing. Persistent inequities across race, including housing discrimination, create barriers for people of color to reside near coastal areas and/or to have ample resources to access these areas. This geographic inequity, in addition to preexisting territorialism in surf culture, creates exclusion for underrepresented participants.

NRF funding support BGS’ flagship outdoor education program, the Surf Sister Program, which serves more then 170 youth. It connects girls and women of color to ocean-based recreation through a series of progressive female-centered surf programs and opportunities for leadership development and community building. Its unique intergenerational model fosters connections among younger and older surfers and creates space for mother/daughter participants. Being outdoors is linked to improved health and well-being and it allows individuals to gain confidence and connection with their natural world.

Camp Joy

Camp Joy

Even before the current health crisis, there was a significant need in the Greater Cincinnati area to provide economically, physically and medically challenged children the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities with positive role models. The need will be even greater when it becomes safe to be together again. Each year, approximately 10,000 youth participate in Camp Joy’s programming, and the ropes courses are one of its most popular activities. High ropes courses are exciting and fun, they require pushing oneself out of one's comfort zone, and they bring people together in ways that difficult challenges often do.

NRF funding helped Camp Joy purchase full-body harnesses to replace older lower-body harnesses. The new harnesses provide increased safety from both a physical and emotional standpoint. Physically, full-body harnesses are safer and will keep participants secure, even in the unlikely event of flipping upside down. Because most of participants are children, the additional straps over their shoulders also provide emotional comfort during these activities.

CHildren & Nature Network

Children & Nature Network

The loss of our connection to nature has profound implications for health, youth development and the future of the natural places we cherish. Contact with nature has shown to help improve health and mental health, increase physical activity and reduce stress. The Children & Nature Network's vision is that children and youth have access to nature everywhere they live, learn, work, and play. 

Youth development and nature programming contribute to a common goal of creating young people who are prepared to reach their full potential as humans and as earth stewards. Children & Nature Network brings these two fields together to weave strategies that incorporate social-emotional learning into nature-based programming and the context/benefit of nature into youth development programming. NRF funding supports Children & Nature Network as it works to engage community-based youth-serving organizations in a Nature Leaders Cohort to build their capacity for integrating nature-based activities focused on positive youth development for youth ages 16 to 24. 

City Kids

City Kids

While more than 40% of the American population are people of color, the National Park Service estimates that only 23% of its visitors are. Even fewer come from densely urban communities. This participation gap has a real impact on the health and wellbeing of urban and minority youth. City Kids works to bridge this gap by annually inviting more than 120 middle and high school youth from Washington, DC’s to explore, recreate and challenge themselves in wilderness settings. These youth develop confidence to try new things and test their interests. They learn how to set meaningful goals. They strengthen their belief that there are opportunities for them outside of where they live. And they come to recognize that their actions and attitudes affect those around them.

NRF funding helps City Kids equip themselves with the resources necessary for its successful model of long-term outdoor education and youth empowerment programming; launch its new College Success and Alumni Services program, and enact its inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan.

Concrete Couch

Concrete Couch

Concrete Couch has been working in the Hillside neighborhood of Southeast Colorado Springs since 2009. In the last 15 months alone, its work has impacted more than 400 neighbors in that area by working with kids and community groups to create public art, build community and create new environments and experiences. Concrete Couch's programming gives children, families and adults the chance to engage, learn valuable skills and connect with their neighbors in healthy, active ways. 

NRF funding helps support programs at Concrete Couch’s new Learning Laboratory project site (dubbed “Concrete Coyote”) which include the design and building of a treehouse and playground, trails for walking and biking, creek walks and bridges, adventure play, a disc golf course, a mosaic climbing wall, walking and biking trails, and extensive outdoor workshops.

Daring Adventures

Daring Adventures

For young people with disabilities, isolation further compounds the challenges of acceptance by their peers without disabilities and belief in oneself. One of the most unforgettable experiences a person has is accomplishing a challenge that they have been told is out of reach. Individuals with disabilities are told everyday what they can and cannot do. They need opportunities to try new things, to take healthy risks, and to learn from failure and success. The vision of Arizona-based Daring Adventures is to create a world where everyone, regardless of ability, can experience the beauty and power of nature.

NRF funding supports Daring Adventure’s River Rampage program, which brings together teens, both with and without disabilities, in an extended wilderness setting promoting inclusion. Daring Adventures has served more than 1,400 participants/volunteers through its white-water rafting program since 1994.

Detroit Hives

Detroit Hives

Detroit Hives is a honeybee education and conservation initiative that works to build community and cultivate knowledge within the city and begin conversations about health and healing among young people. Detroit Hives is transforming vacant lots into urban bee farms and revitalizing local neighborhoods. NRF funding supports Detroit Hives “Bee The Change” educational program which educates children and families on the native plant species of their natural environment and the pollinators species/types that need these plants to cross-pollinate. The program also revitalizes vacant lots by removing blight and all hazardous materials that potentially present a risk to families.

Through educational tours, partnerships with schools, and its Bee the Change community development/education campaign (which teaches Detroit-area high school students how to facilitate place-based transformation initiatives), Detroit Hives has been able to expose over 2,000 students and families to its programming. 



Detroit Horse Power

Detroit Horse Power

Modern horseback riding is usually not available to youth growing up in urban areas. The Aspen Institute's State of Play report shows that horseback riding is one of the least common offerings in southeast Michigan. Furthermore, these limited offerings are disproportionately inaccessible to young people of color.  Detroit Horse Power has taken a leading role in making this programming available to urban youth of color in Detroit.

NRF funding supports Detroit Horse Power’s summer horseback riding camps, which expose Detroit youth to horses and the life lessons they teach us (confidence, perseverance, empathy, etc.). Campers learn riding and horse care, interact with guest speakers from various equine professions, and reflect on their experiences.

Environmental Law & Policy Center 2020

Environmental Law & Policy Center

  • Website: elpc.org
  • Grant amount: $15,000

Chicago has consistently poor air quality, particularly on the south and west sides, which have large industrial plants and heavy truck traffic. In some neighborhoods, the pediatric asthma level is 1 in 3, compared to a national average of 1 in 10. Children are especially vulnerable because their lungs are still developing. As climate change worsens and because of the ongoing pandemic, it is critical that our children and future leaders understand how air quality impacts health, especially in communities surrounded by industrial areas.

ELPC’s Citizen Science Project encourages youth to be active outdoors by collecting air quality data using handheld, Bluetooth-enabled monitors as they walk/bike through their neighborhoods, This project engages young people in hands-on learning about air pollution and how it impacts personal health and well-being. Since 2017, youth have walked/biked thousands of miles in almost all of Chicago’s neighborhoods for the Citizen Science Project. In 2021, NRF funding supports ELPC's efforts to expand its program to engage more youth.

Exceptional Needs Network

Exceptional Needs Network

Exceptional Need Network provides camp for children with special needs. For most families, ENN camp is the “once a year respite” break to recharge and be able to do typical family outings while their special needs child reaps the benefit of attending camp with peers. Each year ENN serves campers with varying physical, emotional, and intellectual disabilities. No one is turned away from camp due to the degree of their needs, as ENN has experienced staff that are able to care for such special campers.

NRF funding helped ENN acquire adapted equipment that enables campers to have an easier time engaging in outdoor activities in similar ability as their peers. At camp, ENN strives for each and every one of its campers to be able to participate in every activity (like swimming, horseback riding, rock climbing, zip lining, creating art, music therapy, sensory activities, sports, games and programs). ENN has been providing camp at no cost to families of special needs children in the San Francisco East Bay Area since 2002, and has served more than 1,000 campers since.

First Tee North Florida

First Tee North Florida

The First Tee of North Florida serves a seven-county area, which includes Jacksonville’s northside—a predominantly African American community that is home to First Tee’s Brentwood Golf Course Program location. The City of Jacksonville’s crime rate is 52% above the national average, and the high schools that service the Brentwood area have historically been under the county graduation rate average.

NRF funding supports First Tee North Florida's pilot program, Rising Leaders Inner JAX, which focuses on youth from Jacksonville’s northside district and targets middle-school aged children that have never played golf or engaged in First Tee curriculum. Rising Leaders Inner JAX enables youth to participate in 48 weeks of programming of First Tee’s traditional curriculum (which presents Core Values, Healthy Habits, and Life Skills to children all while introducing the game of golf) to invest in their character foundation and to give them resources to be a successful Rising Leader.

forza soccer team

Forza Sport Academies

The east area of the city of Austin has a 14.5% poverty level, which is one of the higher poverty levels in the area. Within United States youth sports, the continued shift to a "pay to play" system has made it harder and harder for economically challenged families to participate. Competitive soccer ranges from $2,500 to $5,000 per player, per season plus additional traveling and tournament expenses. Many of the families in the east Austin area cannot afford these types of programs.

Forza Sports Academy strives to provide high-level sports training to athletes from diverse backgrounds. FSA currently serves more than 150 youth of all ages who are willing to learn and commit regardless of their socioeconomic background. The program not only helps them learn soccer skills, but it also teaches life lessons, values, and commitment to success in life. The academy strives to teach and instill in its players the core values of sportsmanship, integrity, discipline, respect, leadership, and excellence. 

Friends of Momentum Bike Clubs

Friends of Momentum Bike Clubs

Research shows that having a consistent, caring adult who demonstrates unconditional positive regard is the single strongest intervention for young people with multiple levels of trauma and risk. Momentum Bike Clubs is a Clemson University initiative that serves middle and high school youth by establishing bike clubs in local communities and schools, and by providing youth development seminars, internships, trips and college and career preparatory support. NRF funding supports both MBC’s ongoing operation of its bike clubs, which encourage healthy living and builds resilience, and its new effort—Momentum Outdoor Adventures. Momentum Outdoor Adventures actively engages students in unique outdoor experiences. These experiences (YMCA camp, whitewater rafting, and adventure cycling) will enhance and deepen the important work MBC is doing with its middle school bike clubs and high school Challenge Team.



The west and south sides of Chicago are low-income, high-crime communities. The students that live in those areas have little access and opportunity to experience the outdoors. Gardeneers introduces these students to nature-based learning, outdoor recreation and participation through growing food.

NRF’s funding supports Gardeneers team of growers and educators as they continue growing food on their largest production sites for residents in Chicago’s North Lawndale and Englewood communities (which lacked access to fresh healthy food). Although Gardeneers is not able to work with schools and students at this time, the organization hopes to grow and distribute nearly 6,000 pounds of produce across the south and west sides of Chicago. When school is back in session, the organization will continue to work directly with students in its partner schools’ gardens on a weekly basis, Gardeneers serves more than 2,000 students each week through its hands-on, experiential garden education programming. 

Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles

Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles

In Los Angeles County, 1 in 5 workers is unemployed, and at the same time, many youth programs are either closing or raising costs. Due to the pandemic, Girl Scouts are experiencing the loss of school and camp interaction with friends and mentors and the stress of uncertain times. Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles knows that spending time outdoors improves concentration and creative reasoning, promotes healthy social development, and increases self-esteem. This is now more important than ever.

GSGLA's commitment to providing outdoor recreational experiences for girls is the foundation of its Great Outdoor Adventure program. NRF funding helps GSGLA provide a combined virtual and outdoor camp experience for girls (whether at home or when they are able to return to their group activities) with progressive experiences that culminate in overnight adventures during the summer. GSGLA will serve more than 900 Girl Scouts through its Great Outdoor Adventure program. 

Grand Canyon Youth

Grand Canyon Youth

In this highly connected world, youth are struggling with high rates of obesity, anxiety, and depression, with economic and social inequities having an even greater impact on some. In the Southwest, few opportunities exist for diverse youth to participate in affordable multi-day rafting trips. These immersive experiences, when combined with intentional pre- and post- expedition support, can be transformational. Grand Canyon Youth provides these kinds of experiences, connecting youth to their potential, what it means to be part of a community, and the matchless opportunity to paddle down a desert river, sleeping under the stars, and conducting citizen science projects.

NRF funding supports Grand Canyon Youth’s river and land-based expeditions. GCY runs three types of programs: school/group expeditions, individual expeditions where individual youth sign-up and expeditions to support youth who have experienced trauma. While each expedition is custom-designed for impact, each program is infused with art, science and team building activities as a way to cultivate observational skills, give back to the place youth are travelling, and to be an important member of the team.

La Puente Home

La Puente Home

Colorado’s San Luis Valley is a vast, isolated region that experiences nationally high rates of poverty, with nearly 1 in 4 people living in poverty. Poverty all too often begets hunger, homelessness, and other crises. Through its Positive Activities Lead to Success (PALS) after-school and summer program, La Puente Home provides children social-emotional learning in a structured environment of nurture, creativity and exploration.

One of the ways PALS serves its students and families is through outdoor recreation. NRF funding support PALS’ efforts to help youth (and their families) experience the majesty and healing of the great outdoors by exploring local trails and traveling to national parks. PALS provide therapeutic and positive outdoor experiences and supports expenditures for trips to a national park and for the purchase of camping gear, ski lift tickets and more. Youth and their families also have access to the PALS camping library, which provides families the opportunity to check out tents, sleeping bags, etc. to go camping on their own.


Lake Forest Open Lands Association

Many residents of coastal Lake County, Ill., have limited awareness of the opportunities, challenges and needs associated with Lake Michigan. This limited awareness, accessibility and community engagement leads to underutilization of easily available areas of natural beauty; failure to take advantage of opportunities for recreation, stewardship, and volunteer participation in caring for these areas; and continuation of practices that pollute or otherwise harm them. 

NRF’s funding supports the Conservation Explorers (CONEX, pronounced “connects”) program, which is a three-week conservation- and environmentally-based outdoor summer program for eighth grade students. It connects Lake Forest Open Lands’ Center for Conservation Leadership Program with the Lake County Forest Preserves’ Science Explorers program. The goal of this program is to link students’ knowledge and appreciation of nature with the role conservation and stewardship play in the environment. Focusing on water, wildlife and way of life, students get to know the various eco-systems in Lake County and understand the importance of conservation efforts to study and protect these unique areas.

Latino Outdoors

Latino Outdoors 

According to The Nature Gap, a recent report published by the Center for American Progress and co-commissioned by the Hispanic Access Foundation, the unequal distribution of nature in the United States adversely impacts people of color, families with children, and particularly families of color with children the most. Three quarters of nonwhite families with children live in a nature-deprived area versus 36% of families without children and 39% of white families with children. Latino Outdoors is part of a growing movement of outdoor engagement organizations and initiatives to address these inequities.

NRF funding supports Latino Outdoor’s Vamos Outdoors program, which will serve more than 650 youth in 2021. To help reduce barriers to outdoor recreation, Vamos Outdoors offers free, family-friendly outdoor activities that emphasize connections between people, place, process, and policy. The goal is to inspire participants’ conservation ethic, encourage their evolving engagement in outdoor recreation, and recognize and celebrate diverse forms of outdoor engagement by diverse communities.


Living Classrooms

Living Classrooms Foundation

Many Baltimore, Md., communities are experiencing the effects of generational poverty driven by decades of racially inequitable policy, limited access to quality education and living wage job opportunities. These inequities include a lack of safe outdoor recreation spaces for youth who are unable to reap the physical and mental benefits offered by nature and outside activity. To address these issues Living Classrooms is developing a Youth Outdoor Leadership and Adventure Program.

YOLA will take Baltimore teens on a week-long outdoor adventure trip to Torrey, Utah—home to red rock outcrops and canyons of Capitol Reef National Park and forests and lakes of Fishlake National Forest. This trip of a lifetime will challenge students to take healthy risks and try new outdoor activities, while allowing them to experience the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature. Students will be introduced to career and higher education exploration in an array of sciences, natural resources management, and historical/cultural resources. This opportunity will take the students far outside of their comfort zone, where they will learn and master new life skills that may not be presented to them in their urban lives.


Miami Valley Christian Academy

The Miami Valley Christian Academy, located in the greater Cincinnati area, is introducing athletic, physical education and outdoor recreation programs that will be held on its new all-weather field this summer. MVCA has already experienced great success with student and community programs, but it has never had a home field or outdoor place on campus to facilitate more of the programming that would benefit the students at and children living near the school. NRF funding support the intoduction of these new programs and the all-weather field. 




Children today are spending less time "playing" and being active. Physical education periods and recess in school are shorter and kids generally are spending more time in sedentary activities such as video gaming  and other online activities. Miles4Mentors is committed to making sports and activities accessible to children who may not otherwise have the opportunity to participate and be active. It's flagship event, a free Kids Fun Run Series, was created to develop stronger, healthier, and more confident and caring children and parents, as well as strengthen the community in Willmar, Minn., a culturally diverse community in the west central part of the state.

NRF funding will support Miles4Mentors as it brings its 2021 Kids Fun Run Series back in-person and expands it to enable more than 500 kids and families from the community participate. 

Mama's House

Palm Desert-based Mama’s House houses women in crises and addresses their most critical basic needs. Mama's House recently purchased a one-acre property, named Campus for Mama’s House, that will be expanded so it can quadruple the number of women and children served at a time. NRF funding supports Mama’s House’s efforts to create outdoor recreational areas on the Campus to enable gathering areas for residents to spend much of their time outside with play equipment, water features, lighting for evening activities, gardening, fitness activities and more. Outdoor space for recreational activities is critical for the women and children that Mama’s House serves, as most come from dire circumstances (most often straight from the street and on occasion from human sex trafficking where life leaves little room for anything other than simply surviving). The ability to enjoy outdoor physical activities on site will enhance the work taking place and further nurture these women and their children back to wellness, wholeness and productivity.

Muddy Sneakers 2020

Muddy Sneakers

American children are growing up in a new paradigm. Without a connection to their neighboring lands at a formative age, they lack a sense of place and an understanding of their role within the natural world. This paradigm presents a significant challenge in creating the next generation of environmental stewards. It also means youth lack comfort being active outdoors, which is of great detriment on their personal development and physical and mental wellbeing.

The 2020-2021 school year holds unprecedented challenges for educators. Muddy Sneakers, which is based out of Brevard, NC, is in a unique position to be of service during this time, by bringing its award-winning and standards-aligned experiences, both in-person and via remote learning, to more than 3,400 students and educators at 46 schools students. NRF’s funding helps MS will create new interdisciplinary curriculum pathways—Remote Expeditions—which will offer six standards-aligned remote learning packages that introduce educators and students to the power of outdoor experiential education while harnessing technology to stimulate interest in our natural resources and environment. 

NB3 Foundation

Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation

Indigenous lifeways and knowledge are alive and well among the tribes of the Southwest, yet Native youth are increasingly disconnected from direct outdoor experiences, particularly from the knowledge, stories and practices of their ancestral relatives. New Mexico-based Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation is changing the lives of Native youth through presentation of Native-driven, culturally-centered programs and through presentation of direct opportunities for Native youth to live healthy, active lives.

NRF’s funding supports the Foundation’s “The X” Program, which is designed to connect Native youth with their land and to reinforce their ancestral knowledge through hands-on, outdoor learning including nature exploration, camping, and youth leadership. “The X” Program staff collaborates with tribes and pueblos, local organizations, and with experts who hold knowledge and expertise of varying outdoor experiences such as camping, hiking, rafting, plant identification, and storytelling.

nuestra tierra

Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project

Public lands and waters are often seen as a defining feature of our nation’s shared heritage and character. However, throughout history, racism, exclusion, oppression and injustices have traditionally shaped the operations and policies of land management agencies and created barriers to access and public participation. The Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project works at the local, state and national level to ensure that youth from traditionally overlooked populations have the opportunity to substantively and meaningfully engage in the policy process. NTCP led the charge for the creation of the New Mexico Outdoor Equity Fund during the 2019 New Mexico Legislative session to empower youth and create a state fund whose sole purpose is to eliminate barriers to access the outdoors for them. NRF funding supports NTCP’s continued work to ensure the true spirit of the Outdoor Equity Fund is realized and that the resources are distributed to the youth that are most overlooked in the state of New Mexico. NTCP will continue to tell and share the stories of fund receipents to showcase the successes of the program's first year.



SailMaine will address the lack of access to outdoor recreation for youth in the greater Portland area. The primary goal of SailMaine’s City Sailors Program is to use sailing as a tool to build confidence, leadership skills, and a connection to nature. The organization also aims to provide kids from different socio-economic backgrounds a space to interact, play, and learn from each other.

NRF’s funding helps the City Sailors Program cover the cost of instructors, transportation, gear, food, and mentorship to families and kids that might not be familiar with sailing. City Sailors will have access to sailboats, instructors, the SailMaine facility, transportation to and from the program, food during the program, sailing gear, and potential access to additional programming through scholarships. The participants will also benefit because they will learn a new skill, challenge themselves, meet new people, and interact with the ocean in a unique way.

Soul River

Soul River, Inc

Soul River Inc. connects Portland, Ore., inner-city youth and veteran mentors to public lands, wild rivers and beyond. Soul River believes that access to green spaces is of the utmost importance to all people and through its work, the organization breaks down the geographic, financial, and social barriers to the outdoors. SRI’s Environmental Deployment Program is cost-free to veterans and youth.

NRF funding support SRI’s Environmental Deployment Program, which identifies environmental issues centered around threatened wildlife and rivers, that are then built into a field curriculum that is balanced with outdoor leadership skills training, fly fishing, science, congressional presentations, Indigenous relations, and advocacy. United States veterans teach urban youth in fragile natural spaces, guiding them toward leadership roles and career paths as tomorrow’s future leaders. In turn, the youth give purpose to the veterans. SRI youth and veterans form relationships evolving into a support system of a tribe where both take on paths greater than themselves in life. SRI’s classrooms are amphibious-based on some of the world’s wildest and most awe-inspiring locations, ranging from places as close to home as the Willamette River in Oregon and as far as the Arctic and Florida Everglades.

Street2feet 2020


In Bexar County, Texas, 108,000 children live below the poverty line. These youth can experience a higher rate of health problems and chronic conditions. Street2Feet responds by removing barriers to wellness and self-sufficiency through programming that delivers self-sustaining access to exercise and fitness education in outdoor spaces to build community and empower more than 340 participants annually to develop a healthy life, regardless of income, zip code, or socioeconomic status.

S2F’s 5K training model provides accessible tools and experiences. Science supports the premise that exercise serves as medicine for a multitude of health issues, including anxiety, depression, ADHD, asthma, diabetes, and addiction. NRF funding supports S2F’s new program in partnership with SA Youth, a local non-profit that provides youth development programs centered on academic achievement, character development, and healthy lifestyles. Through this partnership, S2F will bring its core 5K walk/run training program, increased outdoor activity, exposure to parks and green space, and community integration and service that fosters healthy habits to the SA Youth Out-of-School Time Program.

TheGifted Arts

TheGifted Arts, Inc.

Research shows that after-school programs have numerous benefits, including offering a safe environment for children, reduced juvenile activity and an increase in potential economic mobility for youth. It also shows that low-income students highly engaged in the arts are two times as likely to graduate from college as their peers with no arts education. TheGifted Arts uses the performing arts (such as dance, music, drama, and fashion) to help youth strengthen their character, confidence, and leadership skills. The organization’s students primarily reside and/or attend school in Garner and Southeast Raleigh, NC.

TheGifted Arts had to pivot to focus on its existing GiftedAcademy program to respond to and support its communities during the pandemic. NRF funding is supporting GA's tranisition to programming that uses small in-person and virtual opportunities to provide physical activity (like performing arts and fitness sessions); alleviate stress and meter mental health; nurture relationships to support an academic year that is relying heavily on virtual accommodations; and to continue cultivating skills, character and confidence that will help its artists in all areas of their lives and future endeavors.

West End Neighborhood Association

West End Neighborhood Association

  • Grant amount: $24,242

The West End Neighborhood Association aims to address the ongoing battle against childhood obesity for youth in its Jonesboro, Ark., community by offering neighbors the exposure to physical activity which educates them and addresses their well-being. Arkansas has the ninth highest rate of youth obesity in the United States, with nearly 34% of 10-17 year-olds considered obese. The state also has the most obese high school students in the country, with nearly 22% considered obese. Exercise can break down barriers, increase empathy, and give youth the building blocks for important life and social skills.

With NRF support, the West End Neighborhood Association is enhancing the park, which is centrally located in the neighborhood, by providing an exercise program geared towards the families and youth living there. This will be accomplished by providing four stations of exercise equipment, an educational youth fitness camp program during the summer, ongoing family weekend programs on the walking trail, and yoga classes under the pavilion.