2017 Grantmaking

Youth Outside is committed to improving outcomes in health, increasing environmental stewardship of the youth served by outdoor programs, and to cultural relevancy in the outdoor field. In addition to supporting programming, we consider our grantmaking an excellent opportunity to support organizations through their cultural relevancy efforts.

Grantmaking Criteria

Thank you for your interest in Youth Outside's Grantmaking Program. The deadline to submit your organization's Letter of Intent is November 30, 2016. After this date, we no longer accept LOIs until the next grant cycle in 2018.

Your organization meets our 2016 grantmaking criteria if the organization:

  • Is a federal and California exempt 501(c)(3) organization and/or a public charity or a public agency, school district, or a federally recognized tribe, or a fiscally sponsored project of an exempt organization;
  • Has an annual operating budget of $3 million or less;
  • Operates within the  service area of Northern and Central California; and
  • Provides outdoor experiences for underrepresented youth ages 12–18 or youth in 6th–12th grades.

We seek to support organizations committed to impacting important equity issues within the outdoor field. If your organization meets the above criteria, shares Youth Outside’s commitment to improving access and retention of youth in outdoor experiences, and has either demonstrated a history of culturally relevant programming or has a plan to increase your organization’s cultural relevancy, then we invite you to apply for funding.

We welcome Letters of Intent from organizations we have previously funded and from those we have not.  Please note, organizations currently receiving a multi-year grant from Youth Outside are not eligible to apply for a grant until they are in the last year of their grant award.

Carefully review the information in this announcement. Youth Outside also hosted a webinar on November 9 which addressed questions that had been submitted to us beforehand. You can access the webinar here.

History of Youth Outside

In 2006, the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council (Stewardship Council) created a Youth Investment Program to support outdoor and environmental programming for youth. Realizing the importance of this work, the Foundation for Youth Investment (FYI) was established as its own entity in 2010, having been granted approximately $10.7 million from the Stewardship Council.

With these funds, under the leadership of the FYI Board and Executive Director Kim Moore Bailey, FYI continued to engage Northern and Central California youth, particularly those who are underrepresented in outdoor pursuits, with their surrounding natural resources and also began actively addressing the larger barriers that prevent this engagement from happening more consistently.

In the Fall of 2015, FYI officially changed its name to Youth Outside to better reflect the heart of our work: connecting youth to nature by eliminating barriers, providing resources, and promoting outdoor programming as essential for building healthy lives and inspiring future stewards of our planet.

The Grant

This upcoming year is the third year that Youth Outside will offer multi-year grants awarded as general operating support. If your organization is selected as a grantee, you will be provided with an award to support programming or general operation that lasts either two or three years. In year one, grants will not exceed $50,000 and the amount will taper each year of the grant.

Grantee Cohort: During the course of your organization’s grant funding, the grant agreement stipulates that the leadership of the organization is expected to join a cohort of other grantees. During this time, grantees will have the opportunity to engage in capacity building and networking opportunities, allowing individuals to discuss best practices and shared learning. The cohort meets 6 times a year; with 2017 grantees joining upon announcement of their award. All applicants must be willing to commit to fully engaging in this grantee cohort during the course of the grant period.

Evaluation Tool: In addition to the data collected through grant reports, grantees will be requested to collect additional data through a short survey to be completed annually by program participants. Youth Outside will analyze this data in order to better understand the direct impact of grantee programs, as well as Youth Outside's impact on the field. Youth Outside is committed to sharing this data with its grantees and the field on a regular basis, and encourages grantees to utilize the data collected for their own evaluation, fundraising, and program activities. 

Glossary of Terms as Defined by Youth Outside

Youth Outside offers grants to organizations that are engaging underrepresented youth in outdoor experiences through programming that is culturally relevant to the communities they serve. Underrepresented youth are those who have not traditionally seen their identities reflected in outdoor spaces, green jobs, and the environmental movement as a whole. For reference, underrepresented youth include, but are not limited to: low-income youth, youth from first generation immigrant families, Native American youth, and youth of color. Cultural relevancy is the ability to effectively reach and engage communities and their youth in a manner consistent with the cultural context and values of that community, while effectively addressing disparities of diversity, equity, and inclusion within an organization’s entire structure.  Outdoor Experiences include, but are not limited to national, state, and local lands; parks and bodies of water; and urban spaces such as school gardens, farms, ranches, and camps which are utilized to impact youth’s well-being and environmental stewardship.

The Letter of Intent

Your Letter of Intent (LOI) should illustrate how the organization’s work aligns with one or more of the following priorities:

  • Environmental stewardship
  • Progressive outdoor-based learning opportunities that focus on leadership and life skills
  • Focus on health outcomes through nature
  • Hands-on learning opportunities in the outdoors (learning by doing)

Your LOI demonstrate how the organization’s work serves or will serve to impact one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Increase the participation of underrepresented youth in successful outdoor urban and wilderness programs that provide meaningful, impactful, and progressive experiences.
  • Improve the cultural relevance of outdoor organizations and their programs to better serve and reflect the diverse youth of California.
  • Make the outdoors a more integral part of youths’ lives to improve their general health and well-being.
  • Increase the quantity and quality of nature-based leadership and career-building opportunities available to underrepresented youth.
  • Support collaborative and coordinated approaches to helping youth get outdoors and to increase their well-being through partnerships among diverse sectors involved in youth development and the environment (e.g., health, environmental justice, mental health, education, stewardship, and juvenile justice).

Youth Outside will give preference to organizations that that have demonstrated competency or commitment to strengthening their capacity in the following areas:

  • Organizational leadership – board and staff – that reflect the communities they serve;
  • Partnerships and community engagements;
  • Program design and participation;
  • Increased Cultural Relevancy throughout the organization; and 

to organizations that have the capability and willingness to leverage and/or share these competencies with other organizations.

Application & Review Process

All organizations are eligible to submit a one- to two-page Letter of Intent (LOI), along with a one-page 2017 projected organizational operating budget. Please include a line item for your 2016 operating budget.  By November 30, 2016, submit your LOI and Budget in one email to info@youthoutside.org with the subject line “LOI for [Insert your Program Name Here].” LOIs should provide the following information:

  • Primary contact, phone, email address and basic organization information;
  • Brief overview of the organization;
  • Description of how the organization’s programming or proposed project meets Youth Outside’s grantmaking priorities;
  • List of top 5 community partners (other than funders);
  • List of top 5 major funders; and
  • Amount requested per year and the ideal grant timeline (2 or 3 years).


Youth Outside will review all of the LOIs received, and invitations for full applications will only be extended to a subset of applicants. These invitations will include funding amounts, should the grant be awarded. Funds will be dispersed once full applications are received and accepted.

  • Letters of Intent Due: November 30, 2016
  • Invitations to Submit Full Applications Sent Out: February 20, 2017
  • Full Applications Due: March 6, 2017
  • Awards Announced Publicly: April 2017
  • Funds Released: April or August 2017, based on program preference

Ongoing Responsibilities of Accepted Grantees

If Youth Outside is fortunate enough to enter into a partnership with your organization in this application process, we expect the following from your organization over the course of your funding:

  • The collection of additional data from program participants;
  • An annual report and budget for your funded programming;
  • Agreement to allow Youth Outside staff to conduct site visits during your funded programming;
  • A member of your leadership team will join a cohort of other grantees;
  • Engagement with your cohort and with Youth Outside surrounding issues of equitable access, health, stewardship, and leadership with regards to outdoor experiences for youth; and
  • A commitment to seeking external sustainable funding for your program that can steadily take the place of the funding Youth Outside provides after our funding cycle with your organization is complete.

Feel free to download Youth Outside's 2017 Letter of Intent Announcement.