Increasing Access to Nature for Underserved Communities

Earth Discovery Institute Access to Nature Programs
Opening the Outdoors grantee Earth Discovery Institute will bring a comprehensive conservation effort that includes education, outreach, acquisition and sustainability strategies to one of our most park-poor communities near El Cajon.

From our regional parks to the trails that connect our communities, nature is one of the most cherished resources in San Diego. It is also one of the key drivers of our quality of life.

The region’s accessible parks promote physical activity to combat obesity and improve community health. The green space increases property values and revenue generation from tourists to bolster the economy. And the growing investment in conservation and open space increases storm water absorption, protects habitats and reduces pollution to create a more climate-resilient region.

This year, The San Diego Foundation Opening the Outdoors Program has furthered investment in the regional environment by granting $558,000 to nonprofits with programs and initiatives that connect, protect and increase access to nature throughout the County.

Closing the Environmental Equity Gap

According to The San Diego Foundation 2010 Parks for Everyone report, San Diego County has more than 45 percent green space, yet not all San Diegans have equal access to nature. Many of the region’s park-poor communities are also the most diverse and low-income areas in San Diego.

Thanks to the generosity of numerous donors, the Opening the Outdoors Program is helping to close this gap and give more San Diegans the opportunity to experience all that the local environment has to offer.

Earth Discovery Institute Nature Programs
Earth Discovery Institute works with local schools to provide hands-on nature education.

One of this year’s grantees, Earth Discovery Institute, is the perfect example of that impact.

Incorporating a comprehensive conservation effort that includes education, outreach, acquisition and sustainability, Earth Discovery Institute, along with partner organization Endangered Habitats Conservancy, is bringing environmental initiatives to one of San Diego’s most high-need, park-poor communities – El Cajon.

Because of its central geographical location in San Diego County, the El Cajon community supports rare biological resources that are critical to species conservation. By combining land acquisition to grow the Crestridge Ecological Reserve and environmental education for local children and their families, Earth Discovery Institute will create sustainable access to open spaces for El Cajon and the adjacent communities, while connecting and protecting the region’s natural habitats.

Thanks to the Opening the Outdoors grant, Earth Discovery Institute will provide more than 360 fourth-grade students in El Cajon with hands-on experiences at Crestridge Ecological Reserve where they will learn about conservation and stewardship. The program will also provide local families with the tools they need to engage independently with the surrounding natural areas.

Strengthening the Economy Through the Outdoors

Earth Discovery Institute is just one of more than 90 organizations supported by the Opening the Outdoors Program over the years to connect, protect and increase access to green space throughout the region.

To learn more about the impact of the Opening the Outdoors Program, click here.

The San Diego Foundation relies on the support of generous donors to maintain its commitment to the environment and fund innovative programs that advance quality of life in the region.

Join your fellow philanthropists in giving San Diego children and families the opportunity to explore the outdoors.

Support the Opening the Outdoors Program