$1.5 million announced for ‘No Child Left Inside’ program

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee announced today the award of nearly $1.5 million in grants to programs in 18 counties statewide aimed at getting kids outdoors.

The No Child Left Inside grants will be awarded by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. The grants target at-risk youth by focusing on programs that provide outdoor education and recreation programs. In addition, nearly one-third of the 39 projects to receive funding employ veterans, a special emphasis of the program. The Legislature approved an additional $500,000 for program this biennium.

The grants will provide programs for nearly 23,000 kids. This year’s grant recipients are offering a variety of educational and recreational activities, from exploring Mount Saint Helens to planting trees for a salmon restoration project, to sailing on a 133-foot ship, to white water river rafting.

“Some of my best childhood memories are of being outside,” Inslee said. “Many of our kids don’t get that opportunity today. That’s why these local programs are so important. When children spend time outside, so many good things happen. Kids can improve their health and their grades. And that’s a win for all of us.”

Grants were awarded in the following counties:

Chelan County…………. $61,569

Clallam County…………. $53,198

Clark County……………. $40,683

Cowlitz County…………. $27,288

Franklin County………… $10,439

King County…………….. $341,806

Kitsap County………….. $75,000

Kittitas County…………. $59,505

Klickitat County………… $72,819

Lewis County…………… $25,525

Mason County…………. $86,090

Okanogan County…….. $22,650

Pierce County………….. $225,181

Snohomish County……. $21,300

Spokane County………. $81,554

Thurston County………. $53,143

Whatcom County……… $157,070

Yakima County…………. $75,000

“The expansion of the program this year reflects a growing commitment to creating healthy outdoor recreation and education opportunities for our young people,” said Don Hoch, director of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. “We recognize and appreciate the support of the Governor, Legislature, Recreation and Conservation Office and the many nonprofit organizations who work hard to connect youth with the outdoors.”

Funding for the No Child Left Inside grant program was one of a dozen recommendations of the 2014 Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation. The task force was charged with finding ways to increase participation in outdoor recreation, which has significant social and economic benefits.

The Legislature provided funding for the grant program first in 2008, but the program ended during the recession when funding was no longer available. In 2015, state Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) spearheaded an effort to reinvigorate the program. Grants were awarded in 2016 and again this year. Funding comes from the state General Fund. The grants are administered by the state Recreation and Conservation Office.

“We know it’s hard to compete with cell phones and other electronic devices,” said Ranker, who served on the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force for Parks and Outdoor Recreation and created and secured funding for the No Child Left Inside grant program. “That’s why these grants are so important. They get our children outside so they can play, exercise and learn more about the natural world outside their backdoors. The result, they will be healthier and better connected to their communities and become the next generation of environmental stewards.”

Grant recipients will be matching the state funding and are contributing nearly $3 million in donations, equipment, labor, additional grants, and other resources.

“These grant programs provide a variety of great opportunities for our youth,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office. “I just wish we could fund them all. We had 123 applications requesting more than $4.5 million, but we only have funding to award grants to one-third of them. That means there still are a lot more needs out there.”