San Diego to Receive Multi-Year Grant From The Outdoor Foundation to Get More Kids and Families Outside

The Nonprofit Institute at USD is part of this Thrive Outdoors Community

San Diego Skyline

San Diego has been chosen as one of four communities in the Outdoor Foundation’s nationwide Thrive Outside Community Initiative.

In San Diego, the initiative will provide a multi-year capacity-building grant to 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. 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 outdoor activity participation does not mirror the overall demographics of our country. The core goal of the Thrive Outside Community investments is to create healthy individuals, communities, economies and environments by making the outdoors a habit for kids and families of all backgrounds.

The Thrive Outside San Diego Community will be led by The San Diego Foundation to strengthen an existing network that includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, County of San Diego Parks & Recreation Department, Outdoor Outreach, YMCA of San Diego County and The Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego. This network will work together to increase meaningful outdoor engagement opportunities for children and families with the support of the Thrive Outside grant. San Diego’s network partners have worked to identify gaps in services and plan not only to provide outdoor experiences for the community but also to expand outdoor amenities. The goal of this network is to make the outdoors part of the fabric of the lives children and families in the San Diego region, especially South County where one in seven residents lived in poverty in 2015 and had limitations to accessing the outdoors. By highlighting outcomes associated with outdoor engagement, San Diego hopes to leverage the Thrive Outside funding to raise additional funds to improve the quality of life for San Diego children and families.

“We are honored to receive this inaugural Outdoor Foundation Thrive Outside grant to strengthen opportunities for San Diego youth 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.”

“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 in and around San Diego 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 – Atlanta, Georgia; Grand Rapids, Michigan; San Diego, California; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – 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.

Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside Communities would not be possible without the extremely generous support of The VF FoundationREIPatagoniaThule 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, the Outdoor Foundation will be looking for additional funding partners in 2019. Please reach out to Michaela Gold ( for more information.


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