Outdoor Equity Grant Program
On June 21, 2021, Governor Jared Polis signed HB21-1318 establishing the Outdoor Equity Grant Program, after a multi-year campaign led by Next 100 Colorado members and 60+ local, state, and national organizations. The program will increase access and opportunity for underserved youth and their families to experience Colorado's open spaces, state parks, public lands, and other outdoor areas.
According to a July 2020 report from the Center for American Progress and Next 100 Colorado member Hispanic Access Foundation, “more than 76 percent of people who live in low-income communities of color live in nature-deprived places. Studies have shown that children who spend time outdoors in natural environments experience improved health and cognitive functions, reduced stress, and enhanced social skills.” The grant program will address some of these inequities, provide sustainable funding of up to $3 million annually from lottery proceeds to entities providing conservation, environmental, and outdoor experiences and educational opportunities for underserved youth.
Outdoor Equity Grants may be used to cover the costs of programming, as well as gear rentals and equipment, staff supervision, and transportation. Lack of access to these items are often the greatest barriers to marginalized communities engaging in outdoor pursuits.
Before the Outdoor Equity Grant Program officially launches, Colorado Parks and Wildlife must seat the board that will administer it. The board will be made up of nine voting and three non voting members, with representatives who have experience with racial justice, environmental justice, disability justice, LGBTQ+ justice, conservation, and outdoor education. It will also include three youth representatives. Once the board is selected, it will work with CPW staff to begin administering the grant program.
Next 100 Colorado is grateful for the leadership of bill sponsors Representative Leslie Herod, Representative David Ortiz, Senate President Leroy Garcia, and Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis, as well as to Governor Jared Polis for signing this bill into law. The following organizations are part of the Outdoor Equity Fund Coalition: American Whitewater, Atlantis Community Inc., Audubon Rockies, Avid4 Adventure, Big City Mountaineers, Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, Colorado High Country Educational Treks, Colorado Wildlife Federation, Colorado Youth Corps Association, Conservation Colorado, Continental Divide Trail Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, Defiende Nuestra Tierra, Delta Schools, Denver Urban Gardens, EcoFlight, Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK), Friends of Youth and Nature, Get Outdoors Leadville!, Grand Canyon Trust, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA), Green Latinos, Groundwork Denver, High Mountain Institute, Hispanic Access Foundation, Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO), Keystone Science School, Latino Outdoors, Lincoln Hills Cares, Moms Clean Air Force, Move Mountains Youth Group, National Parks Conservation Association, National Wildlife Federation, Next 100 Colorado Coalition, ONEColorado, Outdoor Afro, Outdoor Alliance Colorado, Outdoor Asian Colorado, Outdoor Wilderness Lab (Mesa County Valley School District 51), Protégete, Rising Routes, Riverside Educational Center, Rocky Mountain Conservancy, Rocky Mountain Wild, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLV GO!), The Sierra Club, SOS Outreach, The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas, The Greenway Foundation, The Nature Connection, The Nature Conservancy, The Wilderness Society, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, ViVe Wellness, Western Colorado Alliance, Western Resource Advocates, Western Slope Conservation Center, Wild Bear Nature Center, Wild Rhythms, Worldmind Nature Immersion School.