The Stewardship Council, a land conservation and youth investment program, awarded Big City Mountaineers one of five diverse Collaboration grants ranging from $55,000 to $90,000 as a part of the Stewardship Council’s Youth Investment Program. The Collaboration Fund supports field-wide initiatives and partnerships among youth-serving organizations working to overcome obstacles that discourage youth from engaging with their natural environment.

“Our goal is to help connect young Californians to the outdoors, but we know some of the most creative and effective efforts come out of collaborative efforts,” said Jayne Battey, executive director of the Stewardship Council. “By working together, we hope to see organizations build sustainable programs that get kids outdoors, fit, healthy, and aware of the world around them.”

Big City Mountaineers in Alameda County received $90,000 for the “Urban Families Gateway Program” to help create a partnership with local communities that will help families and their children explore nearby parks. The collaboration will focus its work on underserved neighborhoods in Alameda County. The program will attempt to get increased participation in outdoor programs by non-traditional family groups by creating a coalition of providers, non-profits and agencies to address the barriers that keep families in underserved communities from using local parks. The goal of the program is to increase the level of use of parks by the families, raise awareness of healthy lifestyles and the environment, increase the knowledge of public lands, and improve family communication via shared outdoor experiences.

“Ultimately, we want to strengthen family relationships through shared outdoor adventures,” said Mitsu Iwasaki, director of operations and safety for Big City Mountaineers. “This grant will help us introduce families to the healthy outdoor recreation opportunities in Alameda County.”

The Stewardship Council’s Youth Investment Program supports organizations that make the outdoors more accessible to underserved youth through innovative programs. This year, the Stewardship Council has allocated $2.5 million in grants for both programming and infrastructure to organizations that provide kids with exposure to nature and the natural environment. The Stewardship Council has granted $4.6 million since its inception in 2005 and intends to grant more than $20 million over the next 7 years.