Lifelong lessons and care for Minnesota’s tremendous outdoor heritage start with quality time outdoors. The Department of Natural Resources is offering a new grant program called “No Child Left Inside” to help more children cast a fishing line, study animal tracks, hike or bike, or simply learn more about nature.

“We’re excited to be putting some funding toward getting kids outdoors. The time is now,” said Jeff Ledermann, DNR’s education and skills team supervisor. “Minnesotans care deeply about the outdoors. Kids in past decades were outdoors early and often, but that’s not a given anymore so these grants are here to boost outdoor programs and initiatives all around the state.”

Public entities and nonprofit organizations serving youth under age 18 are eligible to apply for this first phase of the grant program, which features a simple application and a quick review. In the first phase, $182,000 is available for programs all around Minnesota. The minimum request is $500 and the maximum is $5,000. Future phases of the grant program will have larger grant awards with more extensive application and review processes.

Applications can be submitted starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23, and awards will be made on a rolling basis. Matching dollars are encouraged but not required. The application period will close once all the money is awarded. The earliest date to start reimbursable project work is Sunday, Dec. 1, and the reimbursable grant project work must be completed by Monday, June 1, 2020.

“We’re urging folks to be creative in how they approach getting youth outdoors and if in doubt, please apply for these grants,” Ledermann said. “We’re anticipating a strong response from people who work with youth every day—we know they have great ideas.”

The 2019 Minnesota Legislature authorized the No Child Left Inside grant program. Funding can be used for outdoor recreation equipment, transportation and related natural resource education expenses. Factors the DNR will consider in determining awards include whether the project:

  • Contributes to a geographically balanced distribution of awards.
  • Provides students with direct experiences and understanding of nature.
  • Uses research-based, effective environmental, ecological, agricultural or other natural-resource-based educational curriculum.
  • Maximizes the number of participants.
  • Serves children with limited opportunities to outdoor activities.
  • Uses public parks and other natural resource venues and personnel as resources.
  • Commits matching funds or in-kind support.

For more information on the grant program and a link to the application, visit the DNR’s recruit, retain and reactivate page.