Program Purpose

A decade after The San Diego Foundation Parks for Everyone report illuminated disparities in available green space, it remains true that many local communities still lack critical access to parks and green space. According to the Parks for Everyone 2020 report, the communities facing systemic barriers to usable green space are those with higher concentrations of lower-income households, greater racial and ethnic diversity, and the highest rates of COVID-19 infections.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has exacerbated systemic inequities and has impacted marginalized communities at disproportionately high rates. We know people with less access to the outdoors have worse health outcomes than their peers and so enabling outdoor access becomes increasingly important to building better health and quality of life for these communities most impacted by multiple health, economic and environmental threats.

The San Diego Foundation Opening the Outdoors program creates safe, accessible outdoor space for all San Diegans. The Foundation works together with local nonprofit partners to increase community-driven efforts to enhance accessible outdoor space, encourage youth to learn more through hands-on education and create the next generation of environmental stewards in the San Diego region.

Building on the success of the Opening the Outdoors program, in 2019, San Diego was chosen as a Thrive Outside Community by the Outdoor Foundation. The vision for Thrive Outside San Diego is to build regional capacity through collective impact by bringing together multi-sector stakeholders for greater coordination across education, advocacy and programming.

These efforts contribute to building resilient communities, a pillar of The Foundation Strategic Plan, by addressing equity barriers and creating more inclusive and accessible outdoor experiences for all.

Register or Continue Application

Registration Instructions: Video Tutorial, PDF

Program Timeline

March 14, 2022
Grant Guidelines released
March 23, 2022, 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Q&A Webinar
March 24, 29, 30 and April 5, 13
Foundation Staff Office Hours
April 18, 2022 by 5pm
Application submission deadline
By July 15, 2022
Grant funding announcements


Please contact Heather Rossetti at or (619) 814-1363.

Funding Opportunity

This year, the Opening the Outdoors grant cycle embraces our collective vision inspired by the Thrive Outside San Diego community and will invest in programs aligned with these impact areas: Outdoors for All, Outdoors for Health, and Outdoors Forever.

The Foundation anticipates granting $400,000 in funding support. Grants are expected to range from $25,000 to $50,000.

Outdoors For All, Outdoors For Health, Outdoors Forever

Grant Criteria & Eligibility

WILDCOAST outdoor activityTo be eligible for an Opening the Outdoors grant, you and your organization must meet the following criteria:

  • Each proposal must be led by a nonprofit with 501(c)(3) public charity status, located in and serving San Diego County communities.
  • A 501(c)(3) public charity may serve as a fiscal sponsor for another applicant to administer the grant and provide regular financial reporting to The Foundation.
  • Any organization may be part of more than one proposal, but may only serve as the lead applicant for one proposal.
  • Projects should be completed within a 12- to 24-month timeline. Please note, we fully understand the dynamic and unpredictable circumstances we all find ourselves in as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will take all of this into context and consideration with your application.
  • We will not fund endowments, existing obligations/debt, scholarships, or projects that promote religious or political doctrine.

Partnerships & Collaboration

Outdoor Outreach activityWe believe that intentional, strategic partnerships can be essential to maximizing the impact and value of this funding. As was the case in past OTO grant cycles, we will continue prioritizing applications with thoughtful collaborations and partnerships in place. One organization will need to serve as the project lead for the purposes of submitting and managing the grant. Projects must clearly demonstrate in the application how the collaboration and/or partnership roles will be complementary and additive. We strongly encourage you to list all collaborators and their roles even if they will not receive funding as part of the proposed project.

How To Apply

A timeline for the grant cycle with important dates is outlined here. The San Diego Foundation reserves the right to modify these dates, or any other terms or conditions set forth in these grant guidelines. Proposals are due by 5:00 p.m. PST on April 18, 2022, through the online system linked below. If you encounter any issues with applying online, please reach out to Heather Rossetti at for accommodation.

Register or Continue Application

Registration Instructions: Video Tutorial, PDF

About the Review Process

Proposals will be reviewed by Foundation staff and a review committee comprised of a diverse group of community volunteers with expertise in philanthropy and the environment. Staff and the committee will evaluate proposals based on relevance to the Opening the Outdoors criteria listed above. Reviewers adhere to a strict conflict of interest policy and other internal controls to ensure that grant funding is distributed in an objective manner based on the merits of each proposal. Final recommendations will be presented to The San Diego Foundation Board of Governors for final review and approval.

Opening the Outdoors Webinar

An informational webinar about the grant guidelines and application process was held for interested applicants. Access the webinar recording here.

Office Hours and Questions

Foundation staff will be available during office hours on April 5 and 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. to answer questions. Please email to register.

If you have technical errors or need assistance with the online application, please contact or (619) 235-2300 for support.

If you have questions regarding the grant program in general, please contact Heather Rossetti at or (619) 814-1363.