2020 Grantmaking

Our LOI Period is now open. Please submit an LOI by Saturday, November 30, 2019 at 11:59PM PST. 

Youth Outside remains committed to improving outcomes in health, increasing environmental advocacy by youth engaged in outdoor programs, and advancing cultural relevancy in the outdoor field. In addition to supporting programming, we consider our grantmaking an excellent opportunity to support organizations through their equity, inclusion, and cultural relevancy efforts.

Download here: 2020 Youth Outside Letter Of Intent Guidelines

Grantmaking Criteria

Thank you for your interest in Youth Outside's Grantmaking. Please note, the deadline to submit your organization's Letter of Intent is Saturday, November 30, 2019 by 11:59PM PST. 

Your organization meets our 2020 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 (defined below) ages 12–24 or youth in 6th grade or higher.

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.

This is an open invitation and we welcome a Letter Of Intent from all organizations that meet the above criteria. Please note, organizations currently receiving a multi-year grant from Youth Outside are not eligible to apply for a grant until they are in their last year of their grant award.

Carefully review the information in this announcement. Youth Outside will host a one-hour Q&A webinar on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 2PM PST and we invite you to ask questions regarding our LOI process.

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 2013, having been granted approximately $10.7 million from the Stewardship Council. 

With these funds, under the leadership of the FYI Board and the new 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

Youth Outside offers multi-year grants awarded as general operating support. If your organization is selected as a grantee, you will be provided with an award that lasts three years. The total grant amount requested for a period of three years should not exceed $60,000. This 2020 grantmaking period will conclude the highly successful, multi-year grantmaking program in Northern and Central California made possible by the Stewardship Council funds. 

Grantee Cohort: Should your organization be selected to receive an award, the grant agreement stipulates that at least one representative of the organization is expected to participate in a cohort series with other grantees for the duration of the grant period. During this time, grantees will have the opportunity to engage in capacity building and networking opportunities, allowing individuals to discuss systems-level changes and shared learning. The cohort will meet five times a year beginning in April 2020.

Glossary of Terms as Defined by Youth Outside

Underrepresented youth: Individuals 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: youth from communities who have experienced the impact of systemic economic inequities, youth from first generation immigrant families, Native American youth, and youth of color. 

Equity: The guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of certain groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically underserved and underrepresented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective opportunities to all groups. (UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity)

Cultural relevancy: 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 equity and inclusion within an organization’s entire structure.  

Inclusion: The act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people. (UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity)

Outdoor Experiences: include, but are not limited to, activities/experiences in national, state, and local lands, parks, and bodies of water; 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 LOI must:

1. Illustrate how the organization’s work aligns with one or more of the following priorities:

  • Culturally relevant, progressive outdoor-based learning opportunities that focus on leadership and life skills
  • Hands-on learning opportunities in the outdoors (learning by doing)
  • Focus on short- and long-term health and well-being outcomes through nature
  • Focus on environmental stewardship and long term sense of ownership for the well-being of the planet

2. 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 programs that provide meaningful, impactful, and progressive experiences.
  • Improve the cultural relevance of outdoor organizations and their programs to better engage and reflect the 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 (i.e. health, environmental justice, mental health, education, stewardship, and juvenile justice).

3. Demonstrate efforts or commitment to strengthening the organization’s capacity for equity, inclusion, and cultural relevancy in the following areas:

  • Organizational leadership – board and staff – that reflect the communities they engage
  • Organizational systems and structures (i.e. policies, procedures, and practices) 
  • Partnerships and community engagement
  • Program design and participation

Submission & Review Process

Deadline: Completed LOIs are due by 11:59PM PST on Saturday, November 30, 2019.

Contents of LOI Submission:

1. An LOI no longer than two pages. Content provided in subsequent pages will not be reviewed. The two-page LOI must provide the following information:

  • Primary contact name and title; email address; phone; and organization EIN or fiscal sponsor
  • Brief overview of the organization
  • Description of how the organization’s programming or proposed project meets Youth Outside’s grantmaking priorities
  • List of top five community partners (other than funders) and
  • Amount requested per year (total for three years not to exceed $60,000)

2. An attached one-page 2020 projected organization-wide operating budget, including a line item reflecting your anticipated 2019 organization-wide operating budget

Submission Instructions: 

Submit your two-page LOI and one-page budget in one email to info@youthoutside.org with the subject line “LOI for [Insert your Program Name Here].” 

Any LOIs received after the Saturday, November 30, 2019 11:59PM PST deadline will not be reviewed.


Invitations to submit a full application will only be extended to a subset of applicants. Funds will be dispersed once the grantee recommendation is approved by the Youth Outside Board.

  • Letter of Intent submission deadline: November 30, 2019 by 11:59PM PST
  • Invitation to submit full application: January 2020
  • Full applications due: February 2020
  • Awards announced to selected grantees: March 2020
  • Awards announced publicly: April 2020
  • Funds released: April 2020

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:

  • An annual report and organizational operating budget 
  • Agreement to allow Youth Outside staff to conduct site visits during your award period
  • A member of your organization will join a cohort of grantees during your award period
  • Engagement with your cohort and with Youth Outside surrounding issues of equitable access, health, leadership, and stewardship with regards to outdoor experiences for youth
  • A commitment to seeking external sustainable funding for your organization that can steadily take the place of the funding Youth Outside provides after our funding cycle with your organization is complete.

LOI Guidelines Q&A Webinar

Youth Outside will host a one-hour Q&A webinar on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 2PM PST and we invite you to ask questions regarding our LOI process.