SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California State Parks today announced the creation of a new outdoor equity grant program that advances the Governor and First Partner’s commitment to expanding outdoor access for all. The $19 million in funding will go toward transportation, program operations, staffing and other costs that traditionally present barriers for historically underserved urban and rural communities throughout California.
“Every Californian deserves the opportunity to experience the health and wellness benefits of connecting with the outdoors,” stated California State Parks Director Armando Quintero. “We encourage public agencies and 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations to apply and partner with us in improving their communities. The Outdoor Equity Grants Program will improve the health and wellness of Californians through new educational and recreational activities, service learning, career pathways, and leadership opportunities that strengthen a connection to the natural world.”
In 2019, the Outdoor Equity Grants Program was enacted when Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 209. The concept for grant program began with findings in the 2015 Parks Forward Commission Report stating that State Parks must expand access to parks for underserved communities and urban populations. The 2015 Parks Forward discussions became a catalyst for AB 209. Californians shared a similar vision in 2017 during 30 focus groups with over 500 participants for the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. Throughout the state, from heavily urbanized to rural areas, Californians emphasized a desire for multi-generational programs that “bring families together;” that activate local parks and that take residents with transportation challenges to natural areas outside their communities.
“The implementation of Assembly Bill 209 comes at a great time as it will encourage a better understanding of natural resources in our state. It creates opportunities to increase interest in science and technology among children and families from underserved communities,” said Senator Monique Limón. “Studies have shown that children that partake in outdoor education show an improvement in science test scores and are better skilled at conflict resolution and problem-solving. California has millions of acres of public land, and it is essential that the youth of California get the opportunity to experience it.”
Public agencies and 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations are welcome to apply. All applications must be submitted electronically to State Parks by 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Grant awards will be announced by spring 2022. Prior to applying for the Outdoor Equity Grants Program, State Parks encourages applicants to start planning the outdoor programs now using the application guide and join an application workshop. Workshop dates are listed below. Potential applicants can attend one of these webinars by signing up via the OEP webpage.
OEP Webinar Dates (Application Virtual Workshops)
All workshops will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
July 14 and 15
Please visit parks.ca.gov/oep to learn more about this new grant program, to download the Application Guide, RSVP for the application workshops and for technical assistance.
The state of California believes in the right of all Californians to have access to recreational opportunities, and enjoy the cultural, historic, and natural resources found across the state. Too many Californians cannot access our state’s parks, beaches, and outdoor spaces, nor our state’s array of museums and cultural and historical sites. Given this, the California Natural Resources Agency is prioritizing efforts to expand all Californians’ access to park, open space, nature and cultural amenities. This priority requires reshaping funding and programs to expand opportunities to enjoy these places. Doing so advances Governor Newsom’s strong personal commitment to building a “California for All”.