August 9, 2022 – San Diego, CA – San Diego Foundation announced today that it has awarded $838,704 in Opening the Outdoors grants to 24 nonprofit organizations that offer equitable access to outdoor spaces in San Diego County.

“San Diego Foundation is proud to once again support its partners committed to increasing 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,” said Christiana DeBenedict, SDF Director of Environment Initiatives.

According to the San Diego Foundation 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. Since the report’s release in 2020, the COVID-19 global pandemic has exacerbated systemic inequities and has impacted marginalized communities at disproportionately high rates.

This year’s grantees will help address these inequities and enhance access to the outdoors throughout San Diego County. Opening the Outdoors grantees for 2022 include:

  • BIPOC Support Foundation – $49,496 for free, conservation education summer camps for young people in the underserved communities of San Marcos and Valencia Park.
  • Botanical Community Development Initiatives – $35,000 to expand access to its Community Roots Farm in Oceanside by connecting local at-risk youth in a variety of free, outdoor hands-on experiences, classes and workshops.
  • Cabrillo National Monument Foundation – $50,000 for the EcoLogik Project, a free and unique program that fuses ecology and technology and connects young, underrepresented female explorers and scientists (ages 9 -16) to the natural resources and science of America’s National Parks.
  • City Heights Community Development Corporation – $30,000 to connect low-income communities with limited coastal access to outdoor experiences at Silver Strand State Beach through partnerships with California State Parks, Outdoor Outreach and the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.
  • Coastal Roots Farm – $25,000 to provide 4th grade students from the Escondido Union School District’s 18 elementary schools with a customized, no-cost, outdoor, farm-based Environmental STEM Education Program.
  • Developmental Services Continuum Inc. – $15,000 to create an accessible and safe outdoor environment at its Link Center, a day service for individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities.
  • Earth Discovery Institute – $30,000 to provide school field trips for students and family trips where students and their parents participate in a guided hiking trips on a partner agency’s conserved lands.
  • Groundswell Community Project – $26,227 to increase equitable access to the ocean for women through small group, sustainable, surf therapy and ocean conservation programs.
  • Groundwork San DiegoChollas Creek – $35,000 to connect under-served youth and families in Southeastern San Diego to the open and recreational spaces in and around their neighborhoods, and to promote environmental stewardship through a new, environmental justice internship program at Lincoln High School.
  • Horn of Africa – $50,000 for the PARC Project to increase access to San Diego’s natural resources and promote youth leadership and healthy choices for children and youth from low-income and underserved refugee communities.
  • La Maestra Foundation – $50,000 to expand its summer and after-school program for at-risk, low-income youth ages 6-18 in City Heights to include environmental learning and outdoor activities.
  • Lakeside’s River Park Conservancy – $10,000 for trail maintenance and community outreach to improve the safety, visibility, and accessibility of the High Trail, part of a 52-mile regional trail network along the San Diego River watershed.
  • Little Saigon San Diego – $50,000 to convert an unused outdoor space and existing pedestrian pathways into an innovative mini park that includes a seating area, drought-tolerant plants and landscaping, and an interactive sculpture dedicated to Vietnamese refugees.
  • Living Coast Discovery Center – $32,211 to fund the Trail to Bay Challenge where families from underrepresented and underserved communities participate in guided hikes and clean-up events in South Bay San Diego communities.
  • Ocean Discovery Institute – $20,000 to support the Living Lab field trip experience for 2,500 3rd, 4th, and 5th-grade students at 11 City Heights elementary schools.
  • Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center – $50,000 to collaborate with National School District and Healthy Day Partners to deliver a year-round, garden-based learning program for National City students.
  • Outdoor Outreach – $50,000 to provide in-depth, nature-based job training and early-work experience for young adults, including professional soft skills workshops and hands-on, nature-based skills workshops in the field.
  • San Diego Canyonlands Inc. – $40,000 to provide comprehensive, environmental paid job training to historically underserved populations, including individuals who are at-risk of homelessness, justice-involved, or are experiencing barriers as they work to transition back into the workforce in partnership with the Center for Employment Opportunities San Diego.
  • San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat) – $47,500 to provide trainings in English and Spanish on the importance of biodiversity and how to document it through iNaturalist, a mobile app for non-scientists, to at-risk youth aged 11-18 in Oceanside and Vista.
  • San Diego Parks Foundation – $20,000 to support a summer camp for children, ages 6-12, from low-income neighborhoods to inspire a lifelong adventure with nature through the exploration of the natural wonders of San Diego.
  • SAY San Diego – $41,270 to provide free outdoor experiences for K-12 students at Field Elementary, Farb Middle, and Canyon Hills High schools to promote equitable access to the outdoors, as part of SAY San Diego’s social-emotional services.
  • Un Mar de Colores and Changing Tides Foundation – $20,000 to provide surf therapy programs for youth from Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities to cultivate inclusivity and ocean stewardship through regular surf days, field trips and other learning opportunities.
  • Urban Surf 4 Kids – $22,000 to provide education, programming and inclusive outdoor experiences for children and youth in the foster care, kinship care and juvenile justice programs across San Diego County.
  • Wildcoast – $40,000 for its Coastal Leaders Internship project to help conserve over 17,779 acres of critical coastal and marine ecosystems by fostering a diverse network of ocean stewards from students from Indigenous communities.

The San Diego Foundation Opening the Outdoors program was established to address inequity and create safe, accessible outdoor space for all San Diegans. Building on the success of the Opening the Outdoors program, San Diego was chosen as a Thrive Outside Community by the Outdoor Foundation in 2019. 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 San Diego Foundation Strategic Plan, by addressing equity barriers, developing more inclusive and accessible outdoor experiences for all, and creating future generations of environmental stewards.

About San Diego Foundation

San Diego Foundation inspires enduring philanthropy and enables community solutions to improve the quality of life in our region. Our strategic priorities include advancing racial and social justice, fostering equity of opportunity, building resilient communities, and delivering world-class philanthropy to realize our vision of just, equitable and resilient communities. The Environment Initiative seeks to preserve and protect our resources, build a more sustainable path of economic growth and ensure a higher quality of life for those who call San Diego home. For more than 46 years, SDF and its donors have granted more than $1.3 billion to support nonprofit organizations strengthening our community. Learn more at


Lorena Nava Ruggero, San Diego Foundation,, 619-814-1365