Governor Polis Announces Increase in Funding for Landmark Colorado Outdoor Equity Grant Program After Program Receives 170 Funding Requests During Inaugural 2022 Application Cycle

Saturday is Public Lands Day

DENVER - Today, ahead of Public Lands Day in Colorado, Governor Polis and the Department of Natural Resources announced an increase in funding for the landmark Colorado Outdoor Equity Grant Program after the program received 170 funding requests during the inaugural 2022 application cycle. The Colorado Outdoor Equity Board received 170 applications, requesting roughly $11 million, in the first round of the Outdoor Equity Grant program.

"We are excited about the overwhelming interest we've seen in the Outdoor Equity Grant program since I signed it into law less than a year ago," said Governor Jared Polis. "What a fantastic way to celebrate Colorado Public Lands Day by announcing additional resources to address these challenges by helping ensure that our treasured public lands are accessible and welcoming to all Coloradans."

Based on this demand and the quality of the applications, the Board has decided to increase available funding for this inaugural round of applications from $550,000 to a minimum of $1.5 million. Final awards for these grants, which are directed at organizations and projects that reduce barriers to accessing the outdoors for Colorado youth and their families, are expected to be announced by the end of May.

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"The Board's decision to increase the funding available to organizations was really important because there is such a need throughout Colorado as demonstrated by the number of applicants, as well as the total funding request," said Yesica Chaves, Chair of the Outdoor Equity Board. "A connection to the natural world should be available to every Coloradan, and the Outdoor Equity fund is a major step in the right direction by actually investing in the people and organizations who most directly connect with Black, Indigenous, People of Color, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities."

The board, created by the signing of House Bill 21-1318 which was sponsored by Rep. Leslie Herod, Rep. David Ortiz, former Senate President Leroy Garcia and Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis, is composed of members representing communities that have faced barriers to accessing Colorado's outdoors. A broad coalition of partners worked tirelessly to see this fund created to make sure everyone has access to the mental, physical and emotional benefits nature provides.

"We are grateful for the work of the Outdoor Equity Board and all of the applicants who applied this year who are actively working to make Colorado more accessible and welcoming," said CPW's Assistant Director for Information and Education Lauren Truitt. "It is more important than ever to invest in programs and projects that are dedicated to providing experiential and culturally responsive opportunities for underserved youth and their families to experience Colorado's open spaces, state parks and public lands. The Colorado outdoors are fundamental to a brighter future for everyone."

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Applications were submitted by nonprofit organizations, Tribes, schools, governments and for-profit businesses. Eligible applicants must have programs or project focuses that address one or more of the following issues faced by Colorado youth (0-25) and their families: racial inequities in accessing the outdoors, improving environmental justice, accessibility to the outdoors for Coloradans from underrepresented communities including BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), LBGTQ+, people with disabilities, and/or Native Americans and Indigenous peoples; providing environmental, experiential, outdoor, and or stewardship and conservation education for future career development.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado Outdoor Equity Board are committed to investing in and expanding access to the outdoors for all Coloradans. For more information, visit

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