For Immediate Release: 2/14/2024

Parks California Announces Close to $1 Million in Grant Funding to 2024 Route to Parks Grantees

Contact: Debbie Felix, Parks California, media@parkscalifornia.org

Parks California, the statutory non-profit partner to California State Parks, is proud to announce that 29 non-profit organizations throughout California will receive close to $1 million in grant funding to facilitate access to state parks and create memorable experiences, reaching more than 5,300 participants, in 2024.

Currently in its fourth-year cycle, Parks California’s Route to Parks grants program was established to reduce transportation barriers and help more people get to a state park so they can begin to develop a connection, appreciation, and love for nature. The program is made possible through a joint agreement between California State Parks and Parks California, and the generous support of private donors, including the PG&E Corporation Foundation.

“The Route to Parks program is an example of how state government cannot advance initiatives on its own. Partnerships help advance important efforts such as providing outdoor access to all Californians. We’re excited to welcome more and diverse Californians to California’s state parks, especially those visiting a state park for the very first time,” said Armando Quintero, California State Parks Director.

This year, Parks California increased the number of grantees from 19 in the previous cycle to 29. The majority of this year’s grantees (69%) are new grant recipients, while nine non-profit organizations are returning grantees. Submissions from this year’s applicants were notable for proposals that rely on multi-modal transportation methods, with a heavy focus on bike-commuting and public transit.

“State parks are special places that offer an abundance of opportunities to learn from and to explore,” said Kindley Walsh Lawlor, president and CEO of Parks California. “As we continue to grow Route to Parks — one of our signature programs — we’re so proud to partner with State Parks and support these 29 incredible organizations that are facilitating seamless access between communities and parks so that more people can create memorable experiences and develop their own personal connection, appreciation and love for nature.”

In the 2024 cycle, grant disbursements averaged $33,100, and will fund transportation, logistics and park activities. Grantee recipients represent the diversity and reach of California’s state park system.

Below are some of the grant recipients:

  • San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust—2024 Route to Parks grantee, receiving $45,000 grant award. “The River Parkway Trust is grateful for the chance to build on the success of our Youth Parkway Ambassadors and Voyagers Investigating Sierras, Trails, and Seas programs, extending the opportunity to more Madera Unified high school students this year,” said Julia O’Kane, President of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust Board. “As recipients of the Parks California Route to Parks grant, we can reach local students to deliver outdoor skills training and foster leadership development in outdoor spaces across the San Joaquin River watershed, spanning from the Sierras to the sea. Support from Parks California will play a vital role in nurturing the next generation of conservation leaders.”
  • Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC)—2024 Route to Parks grantee, receiving $45,000 grant award. “Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC) is thrilled to have been awarded a grant to support our programming in 2024,” said Sarah Ottley, ARC’s Co-Director. “Our partnership with Parks California has significantly increased access for rural, low-income high school youth to California’s public lands. As a result of this grant, we are collaborating with State Park rangers to provide bilingual interpretive programs and recreational activities to youth and their families, facilitating programming in several state parks previously never visited by our staff and students, and will be able to offer more weekend trips to youth than in previous years.” 

A past student participant from ARC added that the program “has helped me realize that there is a whole entire world out there, and it’s beautiful! And if you share it with other people – or even if you spend it alone – you may have a life-changing experience.”

A full list of grant recipients can be found here.

“Every Californian deserves access to our state’s natural treasures, but for too many people, transportation is a barrier,” said California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “The Route to Parks program embodies our commitment to equity and conservation by removing that barrier, fostering connections to our parks, and ensuring everyone can enjoy our diverse landscapes.”

In Route to Park’s first three years, grants were awarded to 60 organizations across the state. The program enables grantees to design activities that best meet their community’s needs and deliver transformative experiences most suited to participants’ background, experience and interests. Program evaluations from past Route to Parks cycles noted that the grantee-led programming approach allowed participants to create deeper connections to nature, engage in memorable and culturally relevant activities, and build a sense of community in parks. Grantee surveys also highlighted a strengthened understanding and relationship with California State Parks. And 93% of grantees said that transportation funding is essential to the delivery of their programming. [Read more about program measurement and evaluations.]

For the 2024 Route to Parks program, grant funding from State Parks’ Waterway Connections Initiative and the generous support of private donors helped Parks California engage organizations that could connect participants to water-related outdoor access and experiences. Priority was given to nonprofits that planned visits to parks along inland waterways, lakes, rivers, and watersheds.

The Route to Parks grants program is aligned with the goals of the “Outdoor Access for All” initiative championed by Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and the Natural Resources Agency’s “Outdoors for All” initiative. This effort expands outdoor access to all Californians through focused investments in open space infrastructure and outdoor programming with a priority to expanding access in underserved communities.

ABOUT PARKS CALIFORNIA

California is home to the highest quality park system in the world. There are 280 State Parks, ranging from urban parks in the heart of our cities, to beaches along our iconic coast, to historic parks celebrating the ingenuity of humanity, to redwood groves and desert expanses. Parks California is based on a new model for public, private, and nonprofit partnership, with our strength realized through statewide collaboration working together to solve complex problems more efficiently and effectively to create long term solutions. As California State Parks’ statutory partner, we have a simple mission — to help strengthen parks and inspire all to experience these extraordinary places.




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California State Parks provides for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high quality outdoor recreation.