“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.” -David Attenborough

Earth Day serves as a reminder to all of us that the outdoors plays a significant role in our lives.

From our regional parks to the trails that connect our communities, nature is appreciated and valued in San Diego. In support of our community values, The San Diego Foundation Opening the Outdoors Program helps to ensure our environment remains a cherished resource.

What park or trail is your favorite in San Diego? Share with us in the comments below and encourage others to get outside.

As we celebrate Earth Day on April 22, The Foundation is excited to announce $422,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations protecting, connecting and increasing access to the outdoors, especially for youth in park-poor communities.

While San Diego County has more than 45 percent green space, many low-income, ethnically diverse communities don’t have access to nature.

The Opening the Outdoors Program works to close this gap. Increasing opportunities for everyone to explore the outdoors strengthens the quality of life for our communities.

Treasuring Our Environment

This year, 31 nonprofits will collaborate to leave a lasting impact in the region by:

  • Engaging more than 10,000 youth
  • Working alongside more than 2,000 volunteers
  • Improving 5,000 acres of natural space
  • Installing 2,000 native plants across the region
  • Building and enhancing 7 miles of trail systems

Our 2017 Opening the Outdoors grantees include:

SAY San Diego will provide unique experiences for underserved youth in central and southeast San Diego by connecting the environment with the arts. Students will become outdoor advocates and learn how to use photography to document and raise awareness about the importance of topics, such as conservation and environmental justice. The project will culminate in a community-wide exhibition where 100 students will present their visual findings to local leaders and promote civic engagement of environmental challenges.

International Rescue Committee – San Diego will provide youth from the park-poor community of City Heights with opportunities to explore the surrounding regional parks and outdoor spaces, with a focus on environmental education of Next Generation Science Standards and stewardship lessons. The program will enable more than 100 refugee youth to gain a greater understanding for local culture, environmental protection and conservation.

WILDCOAST will engage 250 students from underserved and tribal communities in outdoor recreation, education and stewardship with opportunities to research California’s Marine Protected Area network with ocean study trips and hands-on data collection of our water and marine ecosystem.

Earth Discovery Institute will take students from park-poor, low income communities in East and South County on scientific study trips to the Crestridge Ecological Reserve where youth will learn about rare local species and begin to data map plants and animals in San Diego for the National Phenology Network. Through the program, students will play a direct role in local research, which will help students begin to envision themselves as real scientists.

San Diego Canyonlands will provide City Heights youth and families with educational and stewardship opportunities that will create a sense of ownership and responsibility for the Canyons Loop Trail project. Students will plan the design of a new trail segment increasing connectivity from Manzanita Gathering Place to other locations in Manzanita Canyon, and measure trail user data to determine the impact of trail improvements.

San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy will develop environmental stewards by providing Escondido elementary and high school students with explorations to San Elijo Lagoon, Elfin Forest and the Escondido Creek Watershed and education about natural resources to increase environmental literacy and develop community leaders.

Escondido Education COMPACT aims to remove the fear of safety and negative stigma of the Escondido Creek Trail with grassroots community engagement by creating a “Adopt the Creek” program including clean-ups, graffiti removal and plant restoration. Parent and youth groups will work together to reclaim the trail with biking, walking and education events.

San Diego River Park Foundation will provide 400 students from Barrio Logan with a 3-day education field trip to the San Diego River combining science and service. A 6-week program to raise native rainbow trout and release baby fish into the river watershed along with teacher training for in-classroom study will anchor the program transforming underserved youth into environmental leaders and lovers of the outdoors.

Ocean Connectors will engage 800 fourth grade students from park-poor Title 1 Elementary Schools in National City in a Sea Turtle Discovery including classroom presentations, field trips to Living Coast Discovery Center and other hands-on educational experiences.

Support Getting Youth Outdoors

The Opening the Outdoors Program was established based on findings from Our Greater San Diego Vision, in which San Diegans listed access and enjoyment of nature as one of their top values.

Protect, connect and increase access to the outdoors for San Diego children and families today by supporting the Opening the Outdoors Program.

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