Today marks a significant milestone in the journey toward a greener and more active region, and a proud moment for San Diego.
San Diego was selected as one of only four national Thrive Outside Communities by the Outdoor Foundation. Other inaugural Thrive Outside Communities include Atlanta, GA; Grand Rapids, MI; and Oklahoma City, OK.
As part of its national Thrive Outside Community initiative, the Outdoor Foundation has awarded a multi-year grant of $410,000 to The San Diego Foundation and a network of regional partners to support capacity building that will strengthen local partnerships, as well as create repeat and reinforcing positive outdoor experiences for youth and families.
“We didn’t become an indoor species overnight, and the decline of outdoor activity in the United States is a problem that requires collaboration, funding and scale,” explained Lise Aangeenbrug, Executive Director at Outdoor Foundation. “With this grant, we are helping to fuel an outdoor movement in and around San Diego to bring back that connection by supporting local community partners to create a network focused on getting as many children and families as possible experiencing the outdoors in a positive way.”
As we know from the Parks for Everyone report, San Diego County is rich with parks and green space, however not all San Diegans have equal access to the outdoors. Many of the region’s low-income, ethnically diverse communities are also those with the least amount of natural space. Over the past several years, The San Diego Foundation, through the Opening the Outdoors Program and its regional partners, has been working to address that.
The Thrive Outside San Diego Community initiative is led by The San Diego Foundation in partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, County of San Diego Parks & Recreation Department, Outdoor Outreach, YMCA of San Diego County and The Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego.
The goal of the initiative and partners is to make the outdoors part of the fabric of the lives children and families in the San Diego region, especially South County where, according to the Center on Policy Initiatives, one in seven residents lived in poverty in 2015 and had limitations to accessing the outdoors.
Not only will the initiative work to provide outdoor experiences for the community but also expand outdoor amenities throughout the region.
The Opening the Outdoors Program and the Thrive Outside San Diego Community initiative are great examples of how collaborative philanthropy can move the needle in increasing access and strengthening connections to the outdoors.