Submitted by Washington State Parks

Getting kids outside to explore parks and other wild places will be a bit easier this year thanks to $4.5 million in grants, Gov. Jay Inslee announced today.

Awarded by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the No Child Left Inside grants focus on programs that expand outdoor education and recreation opportunities to under-resourced communities throughout Washington State. This year’s grants will help more than 50,000 kids spend nearly 1.5 million hours outside, doing everything from hiking to kayaking to camping.

“Getting kids outside is so important to the health and well-being of our children that awarding these grants is something I’m proud to be part of,” Inslee said. “We know that when kids spend time outside, they learn more, experience less stress, get more exercise and improve their social skills. That is especially important this year because the pandemic disrupted so many of their normal activities. These grants will make it easier for many kids to spend time in Washington’s great outdoors.”

Funding for the No Child Left Inside grant program comes from the state general fund and was one of a dozen recommendations of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation in 2014. The task force was charged with finding ways to increase participation in outdoor recreation, which has significant social and economic benefits.

“Kids need to get outside–for their physical, mental and spiritual health,” said Peter Mayer, State Parks director. “These grants help level the playing field by providing opportunities for so many who otherwise don’t have a way to experience the outdoors. We hope the grants also will help create a positive future for these kids.”

This is the highest amount of funding the No Child Left Inside Program has received in its 5-year history. In total, grant applicants submitted 117 proposals requesting more than $6.8 million and 63 percent will receive funding. Funding last biennium covered only 16 percent of the projects.

“This funding couldn’t come at a better time,” said State Senator Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), who was instrumental in getting the increased appropriation. “With things beginning to open up, these grants will enable new opportunities for so many kids all across our state. They deserve to have a good summer. It’s wonderful to have this level of commitment from the Legislature.”

“All of our children should have access to the benefits of spending time outside,” said Megan Duffy, director of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants. “These grants are important to make sure that all kids have the opportunity to hike a trail, play in a park and paddle around a lake. It’s really core to our sense of what it means to live in Washington.”

Grant recipients match the state funding and are contributing more than $5.3 million in donations, equipment, labor, additional grants and other resources.

Click below to see descriptions of each grant:

Successful applicants can begin their projects as early as July 1. Projects will wrap up in June 2023, with the Recreation and Conservation Office likely accepting new applications in August 2022. More information about No Child Left Inside grant program is online.

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