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Outdoor Foundation Invests $1.8 Million Into Four Thrive Outside Communities

April 15, 2019

Media Contact

The Outdoor Foundation

Cody Wertz 
Freestone Strategies;
(303) 518-2112

Outdoor Foundation Thrive Outside Communities

The Trust for Public Land
Jennifer Jezyk
HL Strategy
(404) 483-8150

Grand Rapids
John Helmholdt
Grand Rapids Public Schools
(616) 481-2152

Oklahoma City
Holland Taylor
RIVERSPORT/Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation
(405) 552-4040 ext. 4993

San Diego
The San Diego Foundation
Justin Nunez
(336) 254-7056

Thrive Outside Communities will make getting outside part of the fabric of peoples’ lives by bringing together networks of local organizations to work together to provide repeat experiences of fun, joy and learning in the outdoors for kids and families of all backgrounds.

BOULDER, Colo., – April 15, 2019 – Outdoor Foundation announces its inaugural Thrive Outside Communities in Atlanta, Georgia; Grand Rapids, Michigan; San Diego, California; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside Community Initiative will award multi-year capacity- building grants to diverse communities in order to create or strengthen partnerships between existing local organizations such as schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs and nonprofit conservation and outdoor organizations that create repeat and reinforcing positive outdoor experiences for kids and families. The core goal of the Thrive Outside Community investments is to create healthy individuals, communities and economies by making the outdoors a habit.

Time in nature provides benefits of improved mental health, reduced depression, reduced anxiety and stress, improved social connection and, if recreating outdoors, improved physical health. Unfortunately, getting outside to a park or trail is no longer the norm for most people in the United States. Fewer than 18 percent of Americans recreate outside once per week, and fewer than 50 percent report getting outside even once per year, according to the Outdoor Foundation’s Outdoor Participation Report. Research also shows that participation in outdoor activity does not mirror the overall demographics of our country.

“We didn’t become an indoor species overnight, and the decline of outdoor activity in the United States is a problem that requires collaboration, funding and scale,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, Outdoor Foundation executive director. “For a variety of reasons, the days when children were outside playing more than they were inside have passed – this has to change for the health of our children, families and communities. With this grant, we are helping to fuel an outdoor movement to bring back that connection by supporting local community partners to create a network focused on getting as many children and families as possible experiencing the outdoors in a positive way, so we don’t have anything to lose. Over the next decade, the Outdoor Foundation will connect and engage a diverse constituency of participants, advocates and volunteers in at least 32 cities, with the goal of getting 3 million people outside.”

The inaugural Thrive Outside Communities were chosen by the Outdoor Foundation Board of Directors, based on written applications, location visits, in-person interviews and third-party consultant research. Each Thrive Outside Community grant requires the recipient community to provide a 1-to-1 funding match in order to 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.

The Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside Communities would not be possible
without the extremely generous support of The VF Foundation, REI, Patagonia, Thule and Wolverine World Wide, Inc..

In order to grow the number of cities and regions that the Thrive Outside Communities Initiative is able to reach, Outdoor Foundation will be looking for additional funding partners in 2019. Please reach out to Michaela Gold for more information.

Continue reading for more information about each inaugural Thrive Outside Community.

Atlanta, Georgia

“The Trust for Public Land and our Thrive Outside Coalition are thrilled at the opportunity to provide outdoor recreational experiences to Atlanta children and families,” said George Dusenbury, Georgia state director for The Trust for Public Land. “With the support of the Outdoor Foundation, this program will build upon the great programs of our partner organizations and the more than 45 years of The Trust for Public Land creating parks and preserving land for people.”

Atlanta Backbone Organization: The Trust for Public Land

Initial Partners: Andrew & Walter Young YMCA, Arthur M. Blank Family YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, the Greening Youth Foundation, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, Chattahoochee Nature Center, Chattahoochee River Keeper

Learn more about the Thrive Outside Atlanta Community.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

“The City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Public Schools have a dynamic
partnership and joint commitment to environmental education, parks and
schoolyard activation and sustainability. The Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive
Outside Initiative is a perfect fit and remarkable opportunity for us to
advance our mutually desired goals and outcomes,” said David Marquardt,
Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation director. “This award will kick-start a
comprehensive outdoor program for Grand Rapids youth to connect with
nature, play outdoors, and serve as leaders in neighborhood and park
projects that engage families and children.”

Grand Rapids Backbone Organization: Our Community’s Children

Initial Partners: Grand Rapids Public Schools, GREEN – Grand Rapids Environmental Education Network, the City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department

Learn more about the Thrive Outside Grand Rapids Community.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

“We are both honored and excited to be chosen as an Outdoor Foundation
Thrive Outside Community as we work to encourage a cultural shift toward
more active, outdoor lifestyles,” said Mike Knopp, executive director of
the OKC Boathouse Foundation. “We believe the grant will have a profound,
generational impact in the greater Oklahoma City metro area and will act as
a catalyst for others to invest in this effort. We appreciate the
engagement and attention of the outdoor industry, as it validates our
passionate efforts over the past decade to show how our city can become a
leader in the movement outdoors.”

Oklahoma City Backbone Organization: The OKC Boathouse Foundation (OKCBF)

Initial Partners: The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools, Oklahoma City Public Schools, Latino Community Development Agency, Oklahoma City Parks Department, Oklahoma City/County Health Department, OKCRespond, YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, OKC Black Chamber, Oklahoma City Community Foundation

Learn more about the Thrive Outside Oklahoma City Community.

San Diego, California

“We are honored to receive this inaugural Outdoor Foundation Thrive Outside
grant to strengthen opportunities for San Diego children and families to
grow, connect and thrive through outdoor experiences,” said Connie Matsui,
Interim president & CEO of The San Diego Foundation. “This partnership
builds on the success of our Opening the Outdoors Program and will help
strengthen the regional network of nonprofit, philanthropic and academic
and government partners that are working together to connect, protect and
increase access to green space throughout San Diego County.”

San Diego Backbone Organization: The San Diego Foundation

Initial Partners: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, County of San Diego Parks & Recreation Department, Outdoor Outreach, YMCA of San Diego County, The Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego

Learn more about the Thrive Outside San Diego Community.


About Outdoor Foundation

The Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic arm of 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 many partners across the country to get more people outside more often. Visit for more information.