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Outdoor Foundation Announces Four New Thrive Outside Communities, Growing National Network to 12 Regions

April 27, 2022

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Thrive Outside Initiative Expands to Chicago, Detroit, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

Boulder, Colorado, April 25, 2022 — The Outdoor Foundation today announced its third cohort of Thrive Outside Communities in Chicago, Detroit, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., growing the Thrive Outside Initiative to 12 regions nationwide. The Outdoor Foundation also welcomed two new funders, Amazon and Carhartt, as Thrive Outside Community Leadership Partners.

The Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside Initiative awards multi-year, capacity-building grants to diverse communities, directed at building and strengthening networks that provide children and families with repeat and reinforcing experiences in the outdoors. This community-led initiative is built with trusted local and national partners and is supported by three years of funding.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the growing support of Thrive Outside by the outdoor industry and nonendemic businesses. Our new leadership funding partners and our legacy funding partners make this expansion possible,” said Stephanie Maez, Outdoor Foundation Executive Director. “We look forward to continuing to support Thrive regions in historically under-resourced communities across the country who are utilizing a collective impact model to help make the outdoors accessible for all.”

The Thrive Outside Communities were chosen by the Outdoor Foundation Board of Directors, based on written applications, virtual site visits, interviews, and third-party consultant research. Each Thrive Outside Community grant requires the recipient community to provide a 1-to-1 funding match to help ensure the long-term sustainability of the network. One backbone organization in each community will manage the grant and facilitate the work of the network partners.

“All youth and families deserve to experience the myriad of benefits of time spent outside,” said Jen Mull Neuhaus, Outdoor Foundation Board Chair. “The Thrive Outside Initiative provides the collaboration, funding, and scale required to make these opportunities available to community members, ensuring the outdoors serves as a vehicle for positive social change in Thrive communities.”

“We are beyond excited to be a supporter of the Outdoor Foundation and Thrive Outside,” said Greg Flynn, Amazon Outdoors Head of Vendor Management. “Whether it’s getting into the mountains or growing tomatoes in your community garden, we want to help communities experience the joys of getting outside and spending more time in nature.”

Todd Corley, Carhartt SVP of Inclusion and Sustainability said, “For more than 100 years, Carhartt has provided the gear to help men, women, and families discover their passion for the outdoors – from hunting and fishing to skiing and snowmobiling. So, we’re honored to support a program that provides underserved communities with access and the opportunity to experience all the outdoors has to offer.”

Announced in 2019, The Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside Community Initiative has made multi-year grants to eight communities thus far, including Atlanta, Georgia; Grand Rapids, Michigan; the state of Maine; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Diego, California; St. Louis, Missouri; and the Twin Cities region, Minnesota.

The Thrive Outside Community Initiative, and its growing impact, would not be possible without the longstanding support of Community Leadership Partners L.L.Bean, Patagonia, REI Co-op, Thule, VF Corporation and the VF Foundation, Winnebago Industries, Wolverine Worldwide, and Yeti. To date, the Thrive Initiative has connected more than 50,000 youth and their families to the joy, wonder, and benefits of the outdoors, created stronger networks of equity and inclusion, and improved access to the outdoors in diverse communities. Over the next ten years, the initiative plans to grow the number of invested regions to 32.

Continue reading for more information about each Cohort Three Thrive Outside Community.

Thrive Outside Chicago

Backbone organization: The Nature Conservancy Illinois

“Spending time outdoors is critical to our physical and mental health, and in the face of climate change it’s more important than ever to nurture community connections to nature,” said Michelle Carr, State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Illinois. “We know that diverse voices are a must to create an impact on a planetary scale, and we’re proud to partner with Thrive Outside to support communities in accessing outdoor spaces in Chicago. We look forward to celebrating the creativity found in Chicago’s communities and supporting leaders and groups who create safe spaces for all to explore, heal and thrive with nature.”

Thrive Outside Detroit

Backbone organization: YMCA of Metro Detroit

“The YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit is so proud to partner with the Outdoor Foundation for the Thrive Outside Initiative. The Great Lakes ecosystem is a natural wonder of the world and we take inspiration from the way those waters connect communities across the region,” said Helene Weir, President & CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit. “This inspiration has driven the YMCA to be a leader in developing the Detroit Outdoors collaborative, a network of organizations connecting Detroiters to outdoor recreation and the wonders of nature in the city and throughout the Great Lakes.”

“The Thrive Outside partnership with the Outdoor Foundation will underscore and strengthen our network approach to reducing barriers to outdoor access. While the YMCA has a rich history of connecting people to the outdoors, we know that the cultural and environmental legacies in Detroit run deep and they represent a diverse multitude of communities, starting with the Anishinaabeg. We are grateful to share this home in the Great Lakes with these communities and we look forward to engaging an ever-widening tapestry of partners, from community organizations to outdoor industry leaders. Together we will ensure that the outdoors is a place for all,” said Weir.

Thrive Outside Seattle

Backbone organization: King County Play Equity Coalition 

“We appreciate the Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside investment in Seattle, an area rich with natural assets that all youth should have the chance to explore and enjoy,” said Bookie Gates, King County Play Equity Coalition Leadership Team Chairperson. “The King County Play Equity Coalition is excited to elevate the expertise of communities of color through collaboration and collective action to improve access and inclusion so all youth can enjoy the transformative benefits of outdoor recreation in our region’s parks, trails, waterways, and greenspaces.”

Thrive Outside Washington, D.C.

Backbone organization: Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative (APACC)

“The Anacostia Park Community Collaborative is a prime network of environmental and community-based organizations working to make outdoor experiences meaningful for economically stressed youth and families. We are incredibly happy to build out our Meaningful Park Engagement work through Thrive DC,” said Akiima Price, Thrive Outside D.C. Director. “This opportunity will allow us to expand our capacity to work throughout the Anacostia River corridor, delivering thoughtful outdoor experiences that support the youth development needs of neighboring stressed communities. Our partnership will include private, federal, and city leaders working together to use parks and green spaces as hubs for vital outdoor engagement that considers the mental, physical, and social wellness of youth and families in Washington DC. This city has too many parks and green spaces not to cross-pollinate them as spaces to address the glaring crime and safety statistics impacting youth and communities around the Anacostia River.”

About Outdoor Foundation
The Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Outdoor Industry Association, is a national 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to getting people outside for their health, the health of communities, and the health of the outdoor industry. Through community investment and groundbreaking research, the Outdoor Foundation works with partners across the country to address equity barriers and help make the outdoors accessible for all. Visit for more information.