This bill would establish the Outdoor Equity Grants Program to increase the ability of underserved communities to participate in outdoor environmental educational experiences at state parks and other public lands where outdoor environmental education programs take place. The bill would give priority for funding to outdoor environmental education programs that primarily provide outreach to and serve students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, foster youth, or pupils of limited English proficiency.
Parks offer incredible places for play – to explore, gain appreciation for the treasures around them, imagine and peek curiosity. Yet many Californians, especially those from disadvantage communities, do not experience these treasures in their own backyard. This is especially true of the younger generations who are spending more and more time indoors. Research shows that children are spending half as much time outside today as they did 20 years ago accoridng to The Path Ahead report. Couple that with the fact that 40% of U.S. School Districts have eliminated recess, and outdoor education programs and field trips have declined significantly over the years. It is important that California’s youth have the opportunity to have enriched, meaningful experiences in the outdoors, fostering the future generation of empowered park stewards.