Blackpackers of Colorado Springs and the City of Colorado Springs Therapeutic Recreation Program are among the very first recipients of Outdoor Equity grants.
Blackpackers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides free or subsidized equipment, outdoor excursions and outdoor education to underrepresented and economically disadvantaged people, received a $60,000 grant. The city’s Therapeutic Recreation Program received a $17,800 grant.
The grant “improves access to outdoor opportunities for all Coloradans and provides resources for underserved students and communities to improve outdoor learning opportunities, education and fun,” according to a press release from Gov. Jared Polis’ office. Polis announced the awards on July 19.
In the first round of the Outdoor Equity Grant program, the Colorado Outdoor Equity Board received 170 applications requesting approximately $11 million.
The Outdoor Equity Grant Program connects Colorado youth and their families with environmental and conservation education programs and employment opportunities, and provides equipment and resources for outdoor recreation. Polis last year signed legislation sponsored by Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver), Rep. David Ortiz, former Senate Speaker Leroy Garcia and Sen. Jaquez Lewis to create the Outdoor Equity Grant Program.
“Colorado is known for its outdoor spaces, and we work hard to ensure everyone can take advantage of the opportunities that our state offers,” Lewis said. “These grants will help create a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts and open up access so more Colorado residents can experience the wonders Colorado’s public lands have to offer.”
Herod said the grants “will open up access to our beautiful outdoor spaces for Coloradans, who have traditionally lacked opportunities to experience the public lands our state is known for. From connecting underserved youth with conservation programs to building a more diverse pipeline of new hires in our outdoor recreation industry, these grants will nurture the next generation of Coloradans committed to protecting our great outdoors.”
Colorado Outdoor Equity Grant executive chair Yesica Chavez said the grants are an “important first step in providing organizations serving historically excluded youth and families in Colorado with first-of-its-kind funding so they have the opportunity to use the natural… to experience resources of our state .
“We all know that these experiences deepen our connection to the lands, waters and wildlife around us,” she said, “and for many youth these experiences have been difficult to access because of the many barriers communities still face .”
The full list of award winners can be found here.
For more information, see cpw.state.co.us/outdoor-equity-fund.