Back to Press Releases

Outdoor Foundation, Paddle Industry, Outdoor Retailer and the National Park Service Fuel 27,000 Hours Outside through the Paddle Nation Grant Program

March 12, 2015

Media Contact

Thanks to support from generous sponsors, 17 projects in 16 states were funded with 4,050 people engaged in paddlesport activities. 

Washington DC

Last year, 4,050 people, including 1,875 youth, had the opportunity to get outside – many for the first time – and explore America’s waterways. Thanks to the Paddle Nation Grant Program, an initiative connecting young people to their rivers, streams, lakes and oceans, funded by Outdoor Retailer, National Park Service and many paddle-sport manufacturers, retailers and stakeholders. In total, $40,000 was awarded to the 17 best, most effective, projects that introduced paddling to a new generation. Today, the 2015 Paddle Nation Grant Program opened. Those interested can apply by April 13. 

Unique in the outdoor industry, the Paddle Nation Grant Program was launched in 2012 with financial support and leadership from Outdoor Retailer and many companies in the paddle-sport industry including Advanced Elements, ACK, BIC Sport, Confluence Outdoor, Glenbrook Consumer Partners, Johnson Outdoors Inc., Kokatat, MTI Adventurewear, O.A.R.S., River Sports Outfitters, and Rutabaga Paddlesports. Leveraging this industry support, the National Park Service joined as a major funder in 2013, significantly expanding the grant program. 

“The outdoors provides the perfect backdrop to learn life lessons and make lasting memories,” said Marisa Nicholson, Vice President and Show Director for Outdoor Retailer. “Outdoor Retailer is proud to support the Paddle Nation Grant Program and the overall initiative to get people of all ages outdoors to experience the beauty and fun that our waterways offer.”

Since its inception, 42 paddle projects have been funded in 29 states with more than $130,000 awarded to nonprofit organizations. Working with 23 different retailers, 8,777 people have gotten outside on waterways including 5,422 youth. In totally, nearly 68,000 hours were spent outside paddling.

“Thanks to the leadership and support of our partners, we are investing in the ideas, and projects that drive a massive increase in participation on  our waterways,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. “Through these Paddle Nation Grants, young people of all ages  explore rivers, lakes and streams through a variety of activities – inspiring a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts and environmental stewards.”

Nonprofit grant recipients included: Alabama Scenic River Trail, Austin Explore, Inc., Big Brothers Big Sisters of Athens County, Inc., Cacapon Institute, Casco Bay High School, Friends of the Kaw, Friends of the St. Croix Headwaters, Inc., Garfield High School, Georgia River Network, H2O Trash Patrol, International Wildlife Refuge Alliance, Missouri State University, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Rutabaga Outdoor Programs, Salt Lake City Foundation, Sebago Canoe Club and Upper Delaware Preservation Coalition. 


The Outdoor Foundation

Founded in 2000, the Outdoor Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor leaders and enthusiasts. Through youth engagement, community grant-making, and groundbreaking research, the Foundation works with young leaders and partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors. In just five years, the Foundation has invested $4 million into 785 not-for-profit and college programs that have connected 200,000 young people to the outdoors. Importantly, 90¢ of every dollar goes directly into this critical work. Visit us at and for more information. 

About Outdoor Retailer 

Outdoor Retailer (OR) brings together retailers, manufacturers, industry advocates and media to conduct the business of outdoor recreation through tradeshows, product demo events and web-based business solutions. Produced by Emerald Expositions and based in San Juan Capistrano, California, Outdoor Retailer also provides and promotes retailer education, advocacy, responsibility and critical face-to-face business initiatives within the outdoor industry.

Consistently named among Trade Show News Network’s 25 fastest-growing tradeshows by attendance, Outdoor Retailer ( connects approximately 50,000 attendees on a semi-annual basis for its Summer and Winter Market shows, and thousands more through its year-round online resources and platforms.