Partnering for Impact: Opening the Outdoors

2016 Opening the Outdoors Grantees
Opening the Outdoors 2016 grantees collaborated to transform a blighted urban lot in Imperial Beach into an accessible gathering place through youth activation and community engagement.

As the famous saying goes, “many hands make light work.” And with over 10,000 nonprofits in San Diego County, working together is essential to maximize the impact of social programs for all San Diegans.

This year, The San Diego Foundation Opening the Outdoors Program featured a new requirement – that grant proposals incorporate collaboration through partnerships of two or more organizations.

The purpose is to better leverage local resources, expertise and existing collaborations to better protect, connect and increase access to nature.

Impactful Collaboration

Last year was the first year the Opening the Outdoors Program prioritized projects that incorporated nonprofit partnerships and collaboration.

In total, The San Diego Foundation granted $400,300 to 27 organizations working together to help more than 5,000 youth from park-poor and low-income communities.

One of those collaborations was led by 4 Walls International, in partnership with Wild Willow Farm and Border Education Program. Together, the groups are transforming a blighted urban lot in Imperial Beach (at the intersection of 10th and Iris) into an accessible gathering place through youth activation and community engagement.

Imperial Beach Park Gathering Place
Imperial Beach Park transformation to gathering place.

The project leverages the expertise, skillset and knowledge base of each group to create a park that will offer a wide variety of experiences and opportunities to the surrounding community.

Each nonprofit puts their own touch on the Imperial Beach park:

  • 4 Wall International is taking recycled materials and trash to build creative, artistic structures for the park;
  • Wild Willow Farm is building a community garden of native plants, and
  • Border Education Program is creating youth programming and education experiences for the community.

As of December 1, 2016, the partners had broken ground on the site and the community is already coming together to support this new, healthy open space.

This park is a shining example of what can happen when individuals and organizations come together to create something special.

“This park is truly built for the community, by the community,” explained Steven Wright, Co-Founder and Executive Director of 4 Walls International. “During the first four days after the park’s groundbreaking, dozens of local volunteers donated their time and energy to create a safe, engaging place for Imperial Beach residents to gather.

“This park is a shining example of what can happen when individuals and organizations come together to create something special.”

Which collaborative projects is your nonprofit leading?
Share them with us in the comments below!

2017 Grantmaking

Inspired by this successful partnership and the other nonprofit collaborations from 2016 grantmaking, The San Diego Foundation has launched the 2017 Opening the Outdoors grant cycle.

Similar to those projects in 2016, The San Diego Foundation will prioritize collaboration within projects that protect and connect outdoor spaces, and improve outdoor access, especially for our most park-poor and underserved communities.

If you are a nonprofit working to connect, protect and increase access to nature in San Diego, we encourage you to work with your fellow organizations to submit a proposal by March 1, 2017.

And stay tuned throughout the year as we share more stories of collaboration through our Opening the Outdoors Program.

See 2017 Grant Guidelines

Which collaborative projects is your nonprofit leading? Share them with us in the comments below!


About Nicola Hedge, MPIA

Nicola Hedge, MPIANicola leads implementation of The San Diego Foundation’s environmental initiatives, working with donors, nonprofits, business and government partners to advance community efforts that protect our region’s clean air and water, natural resources and quality of life. Nicola joined The Foundation after working as a field research manager for a World Bank research project in rural Malawi and earning a master’s degree from UC San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.

Read more posts by Nicola