Just in time to experience the magical maritime world of a Northwest summer, the state of Washington is doing its part to encourage more young people to enjoy the region’s parks, rivers, lakes, forests, and other outdoor areas.
In mid-July, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission unveiled the fourth round of its No Child Left Inside grants program, focusing on outdoor recreation for underserved youth. The grants, totaling $1.3 million, are expected to help about 14,000 kids in 16 counties spend a total of more than 1 million hours outside during the next 12 months.
“This is about investing in our kids and making sure they have equal access to the outdoors,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. “We know that kids who spend time outdoors do better in school, are less stressed, and get more exercise and social interaction.”
The grants, coming from the state’s general fund and administered by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO), will encourage a wide range of activities, such as hiking, kayaking, and rock climbing.
This year, No Child Left Inside garnered a record-high 173 applications, which was a 44% increase over the previous grant cycle. Recipients will match the state funding and will contribute nearly $3 million in donations, equipment, labor, and other resources. However, RCO Director Kaleen Cottingham noted that the $1.3 million in grants only represents 16% of the $8 million that was requested, demonstrating the critical need for more outdoor programs.
RCO said it will likely begin accepting the next round of project applications in September 2020, so relevant boating initiatives in need of funding should take note. The winning applicants for the current round will complete their outdoor projects by June 2021. More information about the No Child Left Inside grant program can be found at No Child Left Inside.