OKC Boathouse Foundation wins Outdoor Foundation grant
The Outdoor Foundation recently announced its inaugural Thrive Outside Community Initiative grant recipients. Oklahoma City was selected along with Atlanta, Georgia; Grand Rapids, Michigan and San Diego, California.
The $410,000 grant will help the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation work with Native American tribes to implement meaningful paddlesport experiences in Oklahoma City tied to the American Indian Cultural Center, while also activating and inspiring similar exploration and opportunities in tribal lands which are within a short drive of Oklahoma City. To create the outdoor habit in kids and families, OKCBF intends to offer the opportunity for every middle school student to engage in paddlesports as well as hiking, camping, climbing and other outdoor activities. Oklahoma City has spent the past 10 years developing world-class outdoor assets which will be utilized to leverage additional funding to support the long-term goal of bolstering our outdoor community.
Photo: Georgia Read
“We are both honored and excited to be chosen as an Outdoor Foundation Thrive Outside Community as we work to encourage a cultural shift toward more active, outdoor lifestyles,” said Mike Knopp, executive director of the OKC Boathouse Foundation. “We believe the grant will have a profound, generational impact in the greater Oklahoma City metro area and will act as a catalyst for others to invest in this effort. We appreciate the engagement and attention of the outdoor industry, as it validates our passionate efforts over the past decade to show how our city can become a leader in the movement outdoors.”
The Thrive Outside Oklahoma City Community will be led by the OKC Boathouse Foundation (OKCBF) together with a broad-based network of partners in infusing an active, outdoor lifestyle among our youth. Oklahoma City’s Thrive Outside network will initially include the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools, Oklahoma City Public Schools, Latino Community Development Agency, Oklahoma City Parks Department, Oklahoma City/County Health Department, OKC Respond, YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, OKC Black Chamber of Commerce and the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.
“Encouraging children to play outdoors and exposing them to the joys of a healthy lifestyle is foundational to the OKC Parks mission. The Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside Community Initiative grant will remove barriers to the outdoors and bring much needed opportunities to every child in our community. We are inspired by the Outdoor Foundation’s generosity and investment in our great city and look forward to the fundamental changes this gift will bring through the programs of the Boathouse Foundation, OKC Parks, and our many great partners,” said Melinda McMillan-Miller, OKC Parks Assistant Director.
Time in nature provides benefits of improved mental health, reduced depression, reduced anxiety and stress, improved social connection and, if recreating outdoors, improved physical health. Unfortunately, getting outside to a park or trail is no longer the norm for most people in the United States. Fewer than 18 percent of Americans recreate outside once per week, and fewer than 50 percent report getting outside even once per year, according to the Outdoor Foundation’s Outdoor Participation Report. Research also shows that participation in outdoor activity does not mirror the overall demographics of our country.
“We didn’t become an indoor species overnight, and the decline of outdoor activity in the United States is a problem that requires collaboration, funding and scale,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, Outdoor Foundation executive director. “For a variety of reasons, the days when children were outside playing more than they were inside have passed – this has to change for the health of our children, families and communities. With this grant, we are helping to fuel an outdoor movement to bring back that connection by supporting local community partners to create a network focused on getting as many children and families as possible experiencing the outdoors in a positive way, so we don’t have anything to lose. Over the next decade, the Outdoor Foundation will connect and engage a diverse constituency of participants, advocates and volunteers in at least 32 cities, with the goal of getting 3 million people outside.”
The inaugural Thrive Outside Communities were chosen by the Outdoor Foundation Board of Directors, based on written applications, location visits, in-person interviews and third-party consultant research. Each Thrive Outside Community grant requires the recipient community to provide a 1-to-1 funding match in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the network. One backbone organization in each community will manage the grant and facilitate the work of the network partners.