Opening the Outdoors

The San Diego Foundation Opening the Outdoors program connects, protects and increases access to nature across the county, especially for San Diegans in underserved and park-poor communities.

In 2010, The San Diego Foundation commissioned the Parks for Everyone report to better understand green access in the San Diego region. The report found that while 45 percent of San Diego County’s total land area is green space, many low-income, ethnically diverse communities have limited access to parks and open spaces. There was also a strong correlation between communities with high rates of childhood obesity and low park access.

The Opening the Outdoors program was established in response to these findings and our region’s need to connect, protect and increase access to nature across the county, especially for San Diegans in underserved and park-poor communities.

2019 Grant Cycle

The San Diego Foundation is inviting Letters of Interest (LOI) from nonprofit organizations working to protect and connect outdoor spaces and improve equitable access to the outdoors, especially for our most park-poor and underserved communities.

Nonprofits may apply for grants between $25,000 to $65,000 to support projects and collaborations that contribute to one or more of the goals listed below:

  • Create and sustain new natural amenities in low-income communities where access to green space is most limited, as defined in resources such as the Parks for Everyone report and the Parks for All Californians.
  • Build community support for timely public policies or funding measures that will significantly expand more equitable access to green space in communities with the greatest needs.
  • Implement programs offering repeat, reinforcing opportunities for youth from communities with low park access to positively engage in nature.

IMPORTANT: This year, the Opening the Outdoors program will prioritize applications that:

  • Demonstrate they are developing long-lasting solutions to overcoming the underlying barriers preventing low-income, park poor populations from accessing the outdoors, with a particular focus on the communities of El Cajon, Escondido, Lemon Grove, National City and other areas of San Diego County with limited access to green space;


  • Are led by organizations or partnerships with a well-established history of leadership in the community they are serving.


Letters of Interest are due by Wednesday, March 6 at 12pm (noon), after which selected nonprofits will be invited to submit a full proposal by Monday, April 15. For full application instructions, please refer to the Grant Guidelines.

Need More Information?

We will host a brief webinar for interested applicants on Thursday, February 21 from 10:00 – 11:00am and hold office hours by appointment to answer questions from 11:00am to 1:00pm on February 19, 26 and March 4.

Please review our Grant Guidelines for full details. Contact Everett Au, Environment & Thomas Murphy Fellow, at or (619) 235-2300 if you have questions regarding the application process, grant program in general or want to sign up for office hours.

Register for the Webinar

LOI Application Deadline: Wednesday, March 6 at 12:00pm (noon).

Grant Guidelines

Apply Today

Our Impact:

  • 90+ local nonprofit organizations supported through 45 partnerships
  • 40,000+ youth and families accessing the outdoors
  • 37,000+ volunteers and residents engaged in community outreach, education and nonprofit programs
  • $174 million invested for land acquisition and stewardship
  • 65,000 acres of green space protected or improved
  • 1,100+ parks mapped in a new online park-finder tool, Get Outside San Diego
  • 20 miles of trails created or restored
  • 13,000 native plants installed

Read 2018 Impact Report

See 2018 Grantees

We are partnering with San Diego Grantmakers, the Satterberg Foundation and other donors at The San Diego Foundation to support efforts to:

  • Increase community-driven efforts to enhance trails, signage, and natural amenities in neighborhoods where resources are deficient (provisions that increase access to resources including hiking/biking/horse trails, picnic areas, gathering places, etc.);
  • Encourage kids from park-poor communities to engage with the natural environment through physical or educational activities;
  • Connect and protect nature through conservation/restoration/acquisition of key lands or building community support for relevant public policies or funding; and
  • Engage residents in revitalizing natural areas in their communities and diverse volunteers in community outreach, advocacy, and environment-based education programs.

Support Opening the Outdoors

Contact Our Community Impact Team

  • Or call us at (619) 235-2300 to speak to a team member right away.

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