The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) is a national strategic partnership of 100+ organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth and families with the outdoors. OAK’s members are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors.
Photo Credit: National Park Service; OAK helps launch Every Kid in a Park in Washington, D.C.
The #COVID19 pandemic has prevented many fourth graders & families from using their Every Kid Outdoors (EKO) pass this year. Governments have issued stay-at-home mandates and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has urged Americans to stay physically distanced, limit travel and encourage outdoor physical activity in parks and open spaces close to home. As a result, this has meant that families following public health officials’ guidance have not been able to use their Every Kid Outdoors park pass — these children and families should not be penalized for keeping themselves and others safe!
The 2019-2020 EKO pass expires on Monday, August 31st, but the U.S. Department of the Interior has made no announcement regarding extending it.
Join us in asking U.S. Interior Secretary Bernhardt to extend the EKO pass, so that millions of kids can use their EKO pass when public health officials deem it safe to do so.
The Every Kid Outdoors program allows all 4th graders and their families to experience the places that are home to our country’s natural treasures, rich history, and vibrant culture.
Every year, beginning September 1, all kids in the fourth grade have access to their own Every Kid Outdoors pass, which provides free access to national parks across the country. The Every Kid Outdoors pass is good for the 4th grade school year, until August 31.
Participating agencies include: U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In 2015, the Every Kid in a Park program was established to welcome a new generation of kids into the outdoors by providing 4th graders with a free entry pass to national parks and federal public lands and waters. In the first two years of the program, more than 2 million kids downloaded the pass and over $5 million in private investments were leveraged to support transportation and other costs for low-income kids. The program was very popular, but the Trump administration threatened to eliminate the program. The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) led efforts to save the program, and later worked to pass the Every Kid Outdoors Act of 2019, which changed the program’s name from Every Kid in a Park to Every Kid Outdoors and authorized the program for seven years.
Every Kid Outdoors in State Parks
For every national park, there are hundreds of close-to-home state parks and beaches with entrance fees. A handful of states have already adopted the pass for use in their state park systems or have created their own pass, but over 35 states have entrance fees and do not accept the pass. This means a fourth grader in Pueblo, Colorado, one of the lowest-income cities in the nation, would have to travel an hour and a half to use their EKO pass at the nearest national park, but would have to pay to get into Lake Pueblo State Park, just outside of town.
OAK believes every child should be able to access America’s incredible, unparalleled network of national, state, local, and regional parks, regardless of their ability to pay. That’s why we’re launching the Every Kid Outdoors in State Parks campaign.
How You Can Help
Sign this pledge to receive an action toolkit and find out how you can get involved in the Every Kid Outdoors in State Parks campaign!
You can support OAK’s work to connect children to nature by donating! Help us achieve our dream of seeing every child play outside, touch soil, feel rain, watch leaves fall, sleep under the stars, count waves, eat food fresh from the garden, roll down a hill, catch a fish and enjoy the satisfaction of climbing to the top of a hill or a tree.