About Youth Outside
Created by the Stewardship Council in 2010, Youth Outside (formerly the Foundation for Youth Investment) connects youth to nature by eliminating barriers, providing resources, and promoting outdoor programming as essential for building healthy lives and inspiring future stewards of the planet. Its vision is for all youth to have the opportunity for meaningful experiences in nature.
Investing in parks and programs alone does not result in the widespread changes that are desired in the outdoor education movement. Lack of funding combined with barriers such as lack of affordable transportation and a deficiency in culturally relevant programming make connecting underserved kids to nature a significant challenge. Therefore, in addition to traditional grantmaking, Youth Outside has used funding provided by the Stewardship Council to invest in several groundbreaking initiatives to address the barriers that prevent youth from enjoying natural spaces.
To learn more about Youth Outside and what it is currently doing to further its mission and the below initiatives, please visit its website.
Stewardship Council Special Initiative Grants to Youth Outside
Outdoor Educators Institute: Building a Pipeline of Diverse Outdoor Leaders
To directly address some of the issues highlighted in its Cultural Relevancy Report, the Stewardship Council funded Youth Outside to create the Outdoor Educators Institute. This program’s goal was to establish a pipeline of culturally diverse outdoor education leaders who reflect the demographics of our nation. Since 2013, Youth Outside has funded several cohorts of students from diverse backgrounds to participate in the 10 week OEI training. These students have developed the skills necessary to become employed as outdoor and environmental leaders. Graduates of the program have gone on to obtain gainful employment or further experience with well-known outdoor programs and regional park districts.
Cultural Relevancy Convenings: Making Outdoor Programming Relevant
California’s population is becoming increasingly more diverse and urban. However, many organizations providing outdoor education and experiences do not have strong connections with diverse communities. The Stewardship funded Youth Outside to convene youth development organizations throughout California to develop a roadmap to enhance the cultural relevancy of organizations that are providing outdoor education for youth from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Youth Outside used the feedback from this series of statewide conversations to create an initial “Cultural Relevancy in Outdoor Programming” report that was vetted by practitioners in the field and serves as the foundation for creating an action plan for change.
In February 2015, Youth Outside published its most recent report “Cultural Relevancy in the Outdoor Field: Beyond a Conversation - A commitment to Action”. This report reaffirms Youth Outside’s commitment to the cultural relevancy movement and to the outdoor community.
Transportation Fund: Connecting Teachers with Field Trip Bus Money
The cost of transportation is commonly cited as one of the greatest barriers to getting students out of the classroom to experience the environment first-hand. The Stewardship Council funded Youth Outside to collaborate with other foundations in the San Francisco Bay Area. The result of their efforts was the creation of a Transportation Fund to support a model program providing transportation assistance to school teachers and school based programs to enable low income students from kindergarten through high school to participate in field trips to the outdoors. This fund has enabled over 15,000 students to experience the wonder of natural places such as Big Basin, Ano Nuevo State Park, and Point Reyes National Seashore. For more information and to inquire about current funding visit www.sciencebynature.org