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.
- 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
Thrive Outside Community
The San Diego Foundation continues to identify new ways to increase access to the outdoors for all San Diegans. In 2019, San Diego was chosen as a Thrive Outside Community by the Outdoor Foundation. As part of the announcement, The San Diego Foundation and local partners, including 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, will receive a multi-year capacity-building grant to strengthen collaboration and regional efforts to create repeat and reinforcing outdoor experiences for kids and families. The core goal of the Thrive Outside Community investments is to create healthy individuals, communities, economies and environments by making the outdoors a habit for kids and families of all backgrounds.
- 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.