Outdoor Foundation announced its inaugural Thrive Outside Communities in Atlanta, GA; Grand Rapids, MI; San Diego, CA; and Oklahoma City, OK.

The Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside Community Initiative will award multi-year capacity-building grants to diverse communities in order to create or strengthen partnerships between existing local organizations such as schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs and nonprofit conservation and outdoor organizations that create repeat and reinforcing positive outdoor experiences for kids and families. The core goal of the Thrive Outside Community investments is to create healthy individuals, communities and economies by making the outdoors a habit.

The four communities awarded this year include:

  • Atlanta: The initial Atlanta Backbone Organization is The Trust for Public Land. Initial partners include Andrew & Walter Young YMCA, Arthur M. Blank Family YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, the Greening Youth Foundation, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, Chattahoochee Nature Center and Chattahoochee River Keeper.
  • Grand Rapids: The Grand Rapids Backbone Organization is Our Community’s Children. Initial Partners are Grand Rapids Public Schools, GREEN – Grand Rapids Environmental Education Network and the City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department.
  • Oklahoma City: The Oklahoma City Backbone Organization is The OKC Boathouse Foundation (OKCBF). Initial Partners are The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools, Oklahoma City Public Schools, Latino Community Development Agency, Oklahoma City Parks Department, Oklahoma City/County Health Department, OKCRespond, YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, OKC Black Chamber and Oklahoma City Community Foundation.
  • San Diego: The San Diego Backbone Organization is The San Diego Foundation. Initial partners include U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, County of San Diego Parks & Recreation Department, Outdoor Outreach, YMCA of San Diego County and The Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego.

“We didn’t become an indoor species overnight, and the decline of outdoor activity in the United States is a problem that requires collaboration, funding and scale,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, Outdoor Foundation executive director. “For a variety of reasons, the days when children were outside playing more than they were inside have passed – this has to change for the health of our children, families and communities. With this grant, we are helping to fuel an outdoor movement to bring back that connection by supporting local community partners to create a network focused on getting as many children and families as possible experiencing the outdoors in a positive way, so we don’t have anything to lose. Over the next decade, the Outdoor Foundation will connect and engage a diverse constituency of participants, advocates and volunteers in at least 32 cities, with the goal of getting 3 million people outside.”

The inaugural Thrive Outside Communities were chosen by the Outdoor Foundation Board of Directors, based on written applications, location visits, in-person interviews and third-party consultant research. Each Thrive Outside Community grant requires the recipient community to provide a 1-to-1 funding match in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the network. One backbone organization in each community will manage the grant and facilitate the work of the network partners.

The Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside Communities is supported by The VF Foundation, REI, Patagonia, Thule and Wolverine World Wide Inc..

In order to grow the number of cities and regions that the Thrive Outside Communities Initiative is able to reach, Outdoor Foundation will be looking for additional funding partners in 2019.