OLYMPIA–More than 14,000 kids who might not otherwise have opportunities to explore parks, forests and other outdoor places in Washington soon will be able to thanks to about $1.3 million in funding, which Gov. Jay Inslee announced today.
Awarded by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the No Child Left Inside grants focus on programs that provide outdoor education and recreation to underserved youth. This year’s No Child Left Inside grants will help kids spend a total of more than 1 million hours outside, doing everything from hiking to kayaking and rock climbing.
“This is about investing in our kids and making sure they have equal access to the outdoors,” Inslee said. “We know that kids who spend time outdoors do better in school, are less stressed and get more exercise and social interaction. Some of my best childhood memories happened outdoors, and this funding is a big part of making sure these opportunities–to learn, grow and discover the world around us–are open to everyone.”
“State Parks is excited about this grant program that gets young people outdoors for healthy recreation and environmental education,” said Don Hoch, State Parks director. “We are seeing more and more studies show how important getting outdoors is for our health, so we are thrilled to offer this opportunity to the youth of Washington. We also are thankful to the Recreation and Conservation Office for working with us and administering this valuable program.”
Now in its fourth grant cycle, the No Child Left Inside program is seeing its highest demand ever: 173 applications, a 44 percent increase compared to the previous grant cycle.
“That kind of growth shows an unparalleled level of support for this program and what it means for kids’ health, emotional development, attention spans, understanding and overall happiness,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants. “With only enough funding for about 16 percent of the $8 million requested, it also represents how critical the need is in communities across Washington.”
Grant recipients will be matching the state funding and are contributing nearly $3 million in donations, equipment, labor, additional grants and other resources.
Successful applicants will begin their projects starting as early as this month. Projects will wrap up in June of 2021, with the Recreation and Conservation Office likely accepting new project applications in September of 2020.
Funding for the No Child Left Inside grant program comes from the state general fund and was one of a dozen recommendations of the 2014 Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation. The task force was charged with finding ways to increase participation in outdoor recreation, which has significant social and economic benefits.
More information about No Child Left Inside is available online.