Grants available to help get kids outside

Washington state is accepting applications for the No Child Left Inside grant program, which aims to give at-risk children opportunities to experience the outdoors.

No Child Left Inside grants fund programs that provide youth in Washington with outdoor recreation and education programs, including summer camps, natural resource-based education programs and science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) programs. The program is funded by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and administered by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.

Public agencies (cities, counties, special-purpose districts), tribal governments, nonprofits, schools, informal after-school programs, veteran organizations, community-based programs and private entities (individuals, businesses, religious groups planning non-religious activities) are eligible to apply. The programs must be delivered outdoors in Washington state.

“The No Child Left Inside program ties into the legacy part of the State Parks’ mission, as we work to ensure a strong connection with natural, cultural and historical resources for future generations,” said Don Hoch, State Parks director. “It’s exciting to be providing grants that allow kids from communities all over the state to get outdoors and enjoy meaningful experiences, physical activities and learning opportunities that they otherwise might not have. The grant programs that are funded typically focus on the environment, social involvement, collaboration and community, in beautiful and inspiring outdoor settings that are fun and inspiring for young people.”

Grant recipients may ask for $5,000 to $150,000 for each program, and about $1.5 million in grants are up for grabs. Typical programs offer backpacking or camping, boating, environmental education, fishing or hunting, hiking, orienteering or rock climbing, or farming education.

“As screen time continues to demand more and more of kids’ attention, it makes funding like this even more important,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office. “This is a big investment in our future land stewards — the young people who might otherwise not get the chance to go camping, hiking or experience the great outdoors.”

An advisory committee made up of statewide leaders in outdoor education and outdoor recreation programming evaluates and scores the grant proposals.

“These grants are very competitive, which ensures that the limited funding goes to the strongest projects,” Cottingham said.

Visit RCO’s website at to read an overview of the grant program and to access grant application materials. Pre-applications are due March 1 and grants will be awarded in July.