Inslee announces nearly $1 million in grants to get Washington state kids outside

Story Body

BELLINGHAM – Gov. Jay Inslee announced today that more than $940,000 in grants will be awarded for programs in 15 counties statewide to help get kids outdoors and connect with nature and their communities.

The No Child Left Inside grants will be awarded by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. The grants target at-risk youth by focusing on programs that provide outdoor environmental, agricultural or other natural resource-based education and recreation programs. This year’s grant recipients are offering a variety of educational activities, from sailing a 60-foot ship, to snow camping, to building trails.

“These grants create opportunities for kids who don’t get to visit parks and other natural places,” Inslee said. “When children connect with nature, it improves their health and their grades. It also can help them appreciate their communities and instills in them the importance of our state’s natural resources. Investing in these programs helps all Washingtonians.”

The grants will provide programs for nearly 8,000 kids. Of the 19 projects awarded funding, eight involve veterans on some aspect of the project. Click on the links below to get details on each grant.


Grant Recipient

Grant Award

Chelan County

Wenatchee River Institute


Douglas County

The Service Board


Island County

Young Women Empowered


King County

Puget Sound Educational Service District




The Service Board


YMCA of Greater Seattle


Kitsap County

Salish Sea Expeditions


Kittitas County

Kittitas Environmental Education Network


Lewis County

Capitol Region Educational Service District 113


Mason County

Hood Canal School District


Okanogan County

Northwest Outward Bound School


Pierce County

Puget Sound Educational Service District


Snohomish County

Washington State University


Spokane County

Eastern Washington University


East Central Community Center


West Central Community Center


Thurston County

Garden-Raised Bounty


Whatcom County

North Cascades Institute


Wild Whatcom


Yakima County

Yakima Valley Farm Workers


“State Parks is excited about this grant program that gets young people outdoors for healthy recreation and environmental education,” said Don Hoch, State Parks director. “We are grateful to the Recreation and Conservation Office for working with us and administering the program.”

Funding for the No Child Left Inside grant program was one of a dozen recommendations of the 2014 Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation. The task force was charged with finding ways to increase participation in outdoor recreation, which has significant social and economic benefits. The Governor’s Council for the Healthiest Next Generation is focused on getting kids outdoors and has been supportive of funding to support the priority.

The legislature provided funding for the grant program first in 2008, but the program ended during the recession when funding was no longer available. In 2015, Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island), and Sen. Linda Parlette (R-Wenatchee), spearheaded an effort to reinvigorate the program. Funding comes from the state General Fund.

“Thousands more children will get outside because of No Child Left Inside, educating them about the splendors of our incredible natural resources and beginning a lifelong love of the outdoors and outdoor recreation,” said Ranker, who was the author and prime sponsor of the legislation that funded this program. “And we will be utilizing dozens of veterans to help get these kids outside because we prioritized organizations that will engage veterans for the grants. It is a great opportunity for our children, our veterans and Washington state.”

“It is so great to see these grants being awarded,” Parlette said. “Getting kids outside is very important, not only to their health and well-being, but so they can understand more about where they live and where they fit into a larger, connected world.”

“The grant program was highly competitive,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grant program. “We had 122 applications requesting more than $5.4 million, but we had only $940,000 available for grants. That means we are only funding the best of the best.”

Grant recipients will be matching the state funding and are contributing more than $1.9 million in donations, equipment, labor, additional grants, and other resources.

Media Contacts

Virginia Painter
State Parks and Recreation Commission

Susan Zemek
​Recreation and Conservation Office

Tara Lee
Governor Inslee’s Communications Office