Much of our work at CSPF is focused on managing, supporting and funding programs that both connect Californians to their state parks as well as strive to make our state parks as excellent as they can be. Our wide range of programs include several youth education, an ongoing conference exploring stories in state parks, a technical assistance center for park partner organizations, and a visionary project that will help steer our state parks towards excellence in the future.

Engaging Youth

Summer Enrichment Program

In 2009, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation generously funded a pilot program to introduce the educational benefits of California's state parks to youngsters in Oakland, Gilroy and Fresno.

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The PORTS statewide program began in 2004 as a collaboration between California State Parks and the California public school system. This alliance puts the great outdoors into the classroom through videoconferencing with Park Rangers and Park Interpreters, as well as augmenting a school districts’ environmental science courses with enhanced curriculum.

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Bay Youth for the Environment

In 1977, San Francisco’s Bayview Hunter’s Point community became the home of Candlestick Point State Recreation Area – California’s first urban state park. Although local residents fought to protect this area for use by future generations, the park could not escape the industrial pollution that plagues the entire community of Bayview Hunter’s Point.

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When many of us think back to our childhood, we have fond memories of family trips to a special place, whether it is a local, state or national park. These trips out into nature helped us as children bond with our families, explore the natural world, get a better sense of how we fit into that world, and gain an environmental ethic and curiosity.

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Outdoor Youth Connection

The Outdoor Youth Connection is a collaborative effort of the California State Parks, California State Parks Foundation and Pacific Leadership Institute. Using the outdoors as a tool, the OYC works with teens ages 14 to 17 who are involved in community based organizations to develop leadership and life skills while camping at a state park.

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State Fair Art Contest

CSPF is proud to support the California State Fair Youth Art Competition, which highlights the creative talents of California’s youth. We are pleased to once again present our Youth Art Special Awards, which will be presented to outstanding depictions of California’s natural environment.

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Hidden Stories

The Hidden Stories Series is aimed at telling the stories of varying groups that have contributed to California’s rich history in its 280 magnificent state parks. The series, began in 2009, is designed to be implemented over a two year cycle: in year 1, a conference is held that focuses on a particular group’s stories, and in year 2, programmatic recommendations stemming from the conference are launched. In short, over the two-year cycle, hidden stories are discovered, told and thereby uncovered and shared with the public.

Excellence in Parks

California’s state parks have persisted even in the face of challenging and shifting political, social, and environmental priorities. Yet, after more than a century of leading the way in preserving and protecting precious resources, today’s pressures – including a $1.2 billion deferred maintenance backlog – are the most challenging the system has ever seen. These shortfalls cannot continue to define our state parks. We need a new vision for our state parks that all Californians can embrace and work towards.

Park Excellence Project

In 2011, CSPF, along with project partner Save the Redwoods League, released A Vision for Excellence for California’s State Parks. This report was the culmination of more than a year of work on a new vision for the future of California’s state parks. In late 2009, we began our Park Excellence Project, a public dialogue about the purpose of our state parks to generate a discussion about state park experiences, programs, and services desired by Californians.

Read the Report

Technical Assistance Center

One of the ways CSPF is working to achieve excellence is our Technical Assistance Center (TAC). TAC was created out of the urgency of park closures in 2011 and launched in March 2012 to provide assistance to park partners (nonprofit organizations, local government agencies, and others) that are supporting state parks via new operating agreements, donor agreements, or other formalized relationships

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Parks Forward Initiative

The Parks Forward Initiative, announced in June 2013, was created to complete an assessment of the current state parks system and develop recommendations for a fully-funded and sustainable system, with accompanying implementation strategies.

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Benefits of Parks

California's state parks are an important economic engine to the local communities in which they are located, generating over $6 billion in overall economic activity across the state. Learn more about the economic impact of California's state parks by reading our economic fact sheets.

Get the Facts

California State Parks Foundation

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