WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — As students and teachers return to school after winter break, the National Park Foundation (NPF) is thrilled to announce 92 Open OutDoors for Kids grants to connect children to meaningful learning experiences with parks across the country. Open OutDoors for Kids is a program of the NPF’s Youth Engagement and Education initiative.
National parks are America’s greatest classrooms, and NPF seeks to connect as many children there as possible.
“National parks are America’s greatest classrooms, and Open OutDoors for Kids seeks to connect as many children there as possible,” said Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “With parks, learning is fun, memorable and hands-on. Parks open children’s eyes to the wonders and complexities of nature and history, sharing diverse perspectives that provide a broader understanding of progress and struggles of our country.”
At the heart of Open OutDoors for Kids, NPF makes educational experiences in parks more accessible to all, with a focus on children who live in communities that are striving to overcome the lack of resources to provide educational opportunities. innovative learning to students.¹ Programs such as Open OutDoors for Kids also help students, teachers and families feel safe and supported when exploring national parks.
“Education and access are at the heart of the National Park Service’s mission and we are grateful to the National Park Foundation for its ongoing work to provide students and teachers with unique national park experiences through the Open OutDoors for Kids,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams.
This school year, NPF is partnering with the National Park Service, Expeditions in Education and National Park Trust to support educational experiences, both in-person and virtual, across the country. NPF-supported programs include:
- National Civil Rights Monument Birmingham, Alabama – With this grant, 1,500 local students will go beyond the classroom to explore nonviolent struggle to dismantle racial segregation and discrimination in Birmingham, AL, in the 1950s and 1960s. They will visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park and churches that were instrumental in the local civil rights movement, including the 16th St. Baptist Church, St. Paul United Methodist Church and the Historic Bethel Baptist Church. This program complements an immersive African American History Institute program for high school students that FPN helped fund in partnership with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH ).
- Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (Washington, Oregon) – The park and its official nonprofit Friends of Fort Vancouver are expanding traditional excursion opportunities to include virtual options so they can reach even more students. On-site and virtual field trip programs help children understand how local history, including tough topics like colonialism and trade, affects surrounding communities today. These educational programs encourage deeper personal connections to history, creating unique memories that expand children’s view of their community and heritage. This project also interconnects with the work the park has done to expand storytelling to include more stories about women in the fur trade, which is funded by an NPF Women in Parks grant.
- Haleakalā National Park (Hawai’i) – A first of its kind in the National Park Service, this park is creating new distance learning programs in the native Hawaiian language ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. These new programs, designed by two Hawaiian immersion teachers and a digital media intern, provide educational opportunities for Hawaiian immersion students. The goal is to help strengthen the park’s connection to the surrounding community and to continue Native Hawaiian culture through the preservation and use of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi.
- Northeast Archaeological Resources Program (including parks in Delaware, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, and Virginia) – The Mobile Exhibit and Archeology Lab (MEAL) will travel to students in the parks, in classrooms and in communities, engaging children with archeology through digital and hands-on experiences. MEAL will visit many parks, including Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historic Park, Martin Van Buren National Historic Site, Longfellow House Washington Headquarters National Historic Site, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, and National Historic Park First State.
- San Antonio Missions National Historic Park (Texas) – In partnership with Expeditions in Education, the park will dramatically expand its educational offerings by bringing in four seasonal Education Park rangers to engage thousands of students in classrooms and distance on this National Park Service unit and the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas. This program complements the Cultural Landscape Apprentice Program, a collaboration between the National Park Foundation’s Latino Heritage Fund, the National Park Service, Mission Heritage Partners, and American YouthWorks’ Texas Conservation Corps, which matches local Hispanic and Latino young adults with opportunities to learn more about landscape management culture alongside National Park Service employees.
“We are honored and grateful to receive this grant from the National Park Foundation, and eager to provide local youth with high-quality, curriculum-based programs,” said Birmingham National Civil Rights Monument Acting Superintendent William (Bill) Reilley.
See the full list of NPF Open OutDoors for Kids grant projects for the 2021/2022 school year.
Thanks to partners and donors, NPF is investing more than $2.3 million in its Open OutDoors for Kids program in fiscal year 2022, including lead partner support from Child Engagement and Education youth Union Pacific Railroad and GoGo support partner squeeZ. Additional funding is provided by Alicia and Peter Pond, Apple, Columbia Sportswear, Sierra, Parks Project, Humana, The Batchelor Foundation, Inc. and many other donors.
Since 2011, the NPF has engaged more than one million students in educational programs connecting them to national parks across the country. The NPF’s goal is to connect another million students to parks by the end of the 2024-2025 school year.
“Inspiring the wonder that comes from exploring a national park – whether in person or virtually – is something Union Pacific is proud to have helped students experience nationwide, so that we’re partnering with the NPF to create the next generation of adventurers and environmental stewards,” said Scott Moore, Union Pacific’s Senior Vice President – Corporate Relations, Executive Director and Foundation President. “These new Open OutDoors for Kids grants fuel that sense of adventure as we work toward our shared goal of helping another million students experience all that our national parks have to offer.”
Individuals, foundations and corporations can support the NPF’s Open OutDoors for Kids program by visiting the National Park Foundation website.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation works to protect wildlife and parks, preserve history and culture, educate and engage young people, and connect people around the world to the wonders of parks. We do this in collaboration with the National Park Service, the park’s partner community, and with the generous support of donors, without whom our work would not be possible. Learn more at nationalparks.org.
¹ The majority of funding for this program supports fourth-grade students in Title I schools. These schools receive financial assistance through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to ensure that students have the necessary resources to meet school standards. Nationally, school districts in very poor communities have the highest total Title I allocations per eligible student. Schools in these communities are less likely to have the resources to incorporate national parks and outdoor education into the student curriculum.
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SOURCE National Park Foundation