OLYMPIA – Washington State is accepting applications for the No Child Left Inside grant program, which aims to give at-risk children outdoor experiences.
No Child Left Inside grants fund programs that provide outdoor recreation and education programs for youth in Washington State, including science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) programs and environmental, agricultural or other natural resource-based education programs. The program is funded by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and administered by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.
Applicants can be public agencies (cities, counties, special purpose districts), Native American tribes, nonprofit organizations, schools, informal after school programs, veteran organizations, community-based programs and private entities (individuals, businesses, religious groups planning non-religious activities). The programs must be delivered in Washington State and must be delivered outdoors.
“Getting kids outside does so much for their self-esteem, health, grades and sense of personal responsibility and community involvement,” said Don Hoch, director of Washington State Parks. “Exposing children to the natural world around them goes a long way to improving their sense of self-worth.”
Grant recipients may ask for as much as $75,000 for each program. The State expects to award about $1.5 million in grants. Typical programs would be those that offer backpacking or camping, boating, environmental education, fishing or hunting, hiking, orienteering or rock climbing, farming education and community farms.
This program emphasizes programs that employ veterans. The state Legislature dedicated $500,000 to organizations with at least one veteran on staff who will implement the grant-funded program.
“These are great grants,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office. “They reach hundreds of children who might not otherwise get the chance to go camping, hiking or spend much time outside. The grants are in demand and the competition strong. I think people realize how important it is to get kids away from screens and into the fresh air.”
An advisory committee made up of statewide leaders in outdoor education and recreation programming evaluates and scores the grant proposals.
“That ensures a fair process and one that gives the limited funding only to the strongest projects,” Cottingham said.
Check out an interactive story map that details last year’s grant recipients and what they accomplished.