OAK supports public policies and investments that expand outdoor and environmental education opportunities, promote community health and wellness and engage more youth in environmental protection. Our advocacy includes pushing for legislation and programs that support and invest in connecting children, youth and families to the outdoors. Connecting youth to the outdoors is vital part of maintaining a sustainable outdoor recreation economy, with its proven benefits of improving community health and wellness and engaging more youth in environmental stewardship only increasing the return on federal investments.

Now more than ever, we must increase program support and investment in access to the outdoors so that everyone, particularly those most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, can enjoy the mental and physical benefits of getting outside while practicing recommending physical distancing guidelines. OAK urges Congress to act now on the following priorities:

ADMINISTRATIVE PRIORITIES

American Climate Corps

The Outdoors Alliance for Kids is thrilled to see the creation of the American Climate Corps program and happy to see programs that connect youth to green jobs and the outdoors

Every Kid Outdoors Program

Provides fourth graders and their families with free entry to any national park for an entire year. This helps millions of children build lifelong relationships with their public lands.

ASK: Fund the Every Kid Outdoors program at $25 million in FY25
ASK: Pass the EXPLORE Act, which contains an extension for the Every Kid Outdoors program

LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

EXPLORE Act

The EXPLORE Act (H.R.6492)/ American Outdoor Recreation Act (S. 873) with the inclusion of:

  • Outdoors for All Act
    • Establishes a dedicated source of funding for the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) to increase access to outdoor recreation opportunities in cities and towns and prioritizes underserved communities and projects providing job-training to youth
  • Every Kid Outdoors extension
  • Military Veterans in Parks (MVP)
  • Simplifying Outdoors Access for Recreation (SOAR)
    • Makes long-overdue improvements to the permitting process outdoor youth organizations must navigate in order to operate on public lands. This legislation directs the federal land management agencies to evaluate their processes for issuing permits and make improvements where possible. 

ASK: Pass the EXPLORE Act with these key provisions to increase outdoor equity for all, specifically youth.

Living Schoolyards Act

(S.1538)

Directs important federal resources towards upgrading school grounds into nature-based learning environments that help reduce the impacts of extreme weather while providing students access to shaded play, recreation, gardening and outdoor learning.

ASK: Co-sponsor and pass the Living Classrooms Act.

Transit to Trails Act

(S. 1440)

Addresses access issues in transit by establishing a grant program under the Department of Transportation to provide transportation systems to and from underserved communities and public lands. Safe and affordable transportation options are one of the most significant barriers to accessing the outdoors.

ASK: Co-sponsor and pass the Transit to Trails Act.

No Child Left Inside

(S.1239 / H.R.2784)

Supports outdoor and environmental education in the K-12 school system and includes a new pilot program for outdoor school models.

ASK: Co-sponsor and pass the No Child Left Inside Act.

Every Kid Outdoors Act

(HR 6925)

The Every Kid Outdoors Act would create permanent funding for the Every Kid Outdoors program, a program that provides every 4th grader in the country with a free National Park Pass. This bill would also extend the program to include 5th graders.

FEDERAL FUNDING

Agency Sub-Agency Funding Request
Department of the Interior (DOI) $25 million for the Every Kid Outdoors (EKO) program to expand youth outdoor access and support outdoor learning for:
-Program staffing for the National Park Service, state park agencies and park-adjacent youth-serving nonprofit organizations, with priority for supporting public-private partnerships that provide open space and environmental education for school districts to conduct classes outdoors.
-Transportation costs, including transporting students to public lands and supplementing park agency and nonprofit organizations’ transportation budgets.
National Park Service (NPS) $130 million for the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program to create new outdoor recreation opportunities for larger urban communities in particular, increasing access to quality open spaces and facilitating the development of outdoor recreation partnerships.

$100 million for Youth Programs, supporting NPS staff and park-adjacent organizations to provide underserved youth their first outdoor experience.

$13.5 million for the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program to bring the expertise of over a century of land management to the greater recreation community.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  $10 million for the National Environmental Education Act (NEEA), which provides people from all backgrounds with skills for practical applications for science, technology, engineering and math to make informed decisions, protect their health, build strong communities and take responsible action.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) $5 million for the Drowning Prevention Program at the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) to prevent drownings, the leading cause of accidental deaths among our youngest children (ages 0-4).
Division of Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity (DNPAO) Support $125 million in increased funding for CDC’s DNPAO, which partners with national, state and local organizations to advance physical activity and obesity prevention initiatives including: State Physical Activity and Nutrition Program (SPAN), Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH), the High Obesity Program (HOP) and the Active People Healthy Nation Initiative (APHN).
Department of Commerce (DOC)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) $8 million for the Bay-Watershed Educationand Training (B-WET) program to provide increased watershed education for students in K-12 education.

$8 million for the Environmental Literacy Grant (ELG) program to provide additional resources to assist communities in increasing environmental literacy.

Department of Transportation (DOT) $1 billion for the Better Utilizing Investments to Lead Development (BUILD), which funds multi-modal and active transportation projects that significantly enhance safety, walkability and no-motorized mobility in local communities.

Ensure that any transportation funds provided to state departments of transportation include funding for the Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) or TA set-aside.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) $4.2 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, grants from which support local development activities for neighborhood revitalization, economic development and improvement of community facilities, such as parks and recreation.
US Department of Agriculture (USDA)  $12.1 million for Farm to School Grant Program. This program, which has funded over 7,000 schools and has reached more than 2.5 million students, supports a wide range of activities, from training, planning and developing partnerships to creating new menu items, establishing supply chains, offering taste tests to children, purchasing equipment, planting school gardens and organizing field trips to agricultural operations.
US Forest Service (USFS) $4 million for the Community Forest and Open Space (CFP) Program to complement existing conservation programs by helping communities and tribes identify, purchase and manage locally important forestlands threatened with development.

$40 million for the Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) Program to continue serving more than 200 million people in more than 7,700 communities across the U.S. through the development and maintenance of local urban forestry programs, increasing nearby nature access to forests and trees.

$1 million in renewed funding for the “More Kids in the Woods” program to focus support and attention on critical youth outreach work.

Department of Education (DOE) $1.35 billion for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, a critical source of funding for many local afterschool and summer learning programs, including those hosted outdoors by schools and park and recreation agencies.