Outdoor Foundation Unveils 2023 Annual Report Findings

May 23, 2024

Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside Community Initiative Connects over 95,000 Children, Youth, and Families to the Transformative Power of the Outdoors

BOULDER, CO (May 23rd, 2024) /OUTDOOR SPORTSWIRE/ – The Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Outdoor Industry Association, eagerly released its annual report today showcasing 2023 impact data and highlights from its national Thrive Outside Initiative and previewing participation research from the Outdoor Participation Trends Report.

Since the launch of the Thrive Outside Initiative in 2019, the Outdoor Foundation has helped to connect tens of thousands of youths and their families to the joy, wonder, and myriad benefits of the outdoors. In 2023, Thrive Outside Communities engaged over 95,000 participants through transformative experiences in the outdoors, diversifying outdoor participation through innovative, cross-sector partnerships and youth outdoor programming.

In 2023, the Outdoor Foundation continued its grantmaking to support multi-year investments in regional collective impact approaches across the country to connect children, youth, and families to the outdoors. Thrive Outside has helped build capacity of large and diverse coalitions (including nonprofit, school, health, social service, government, and philanthropic partners) with a shared vision to provide positive, healing, and equitable experiences for communities in the outdoors.

“We are thrilled to announce the publication of the Outdoor Foundation’s 2023 Annual Report. The report underscores the tremendous impact of our Thrive Outside Initiative, showcasing how our grantees’ collective efforts are transforming communities nationwide,” said Lesford Duncan, Executive Director of Outdoor Foundation.

Annual highlights from the national initiative include a series of new collaborative program models in Oklahoma City, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. where partnerships have been created between mental health providers (children’s hospitals, county mental health, and social service agencies) and outdoor nonprofit organizations to provide effective outdoor healing programs for youth struggling with mental and behavioral health issues.

Additionally, in areas like Detroit, Grand Rapids, St. Louis and the state of Maine, the Outdoor Foundation has supported the development of new outdoor gear programs and libraries so community members and organizations can access the necessary equipment and training needed to lead outdoor activities safely and effectively regardless of their resources.

On a broader scale, in 2023 the Foundation’s Thrive Outside networks have been at the forefront of the development and implementation of millions of dollars of new resources for outdoor programming.

From local community funds to statewide outdoor equity funds, each of these programs is centered around increasing equitable access to outdoor recreation and engaging underrepresented and historically excluded communities.

“Through strategic community investments and groundbreaking research, the Outdoor Foundation is breaking down barriers to outdoor access and increasing diverse participation in communities like never before,” said Duncan. “We are continually inspired by the countless stories of empowerment and connection that have emerged from our Thrive Outside Communities.”

To that end, participants served through the Foundation’s Thrive Outside Initiative in 2023 were approximately 70% Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), and its collective impact approach continues to drive community-led systems change that reduces barriers for those most marginalized.

Looking at the work ahead, the Outdoor Foundation continues to listen deeply to both the successes and needs of its Thrive Outside Communities, positioning the Foundation to respond nimbly and responsively. As the organization thinks strategically about expanding to new Thrive Outside regions, it continues to seek and adapt financial and technical resources to meet the gaps.

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our partners, donors, and dedicated team for their unwavering support. Together, we are blazing new trails and shaping a brighter future for outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship,” concluded Duncan.

The Outdoor Foundation’s work would not be possible without its partnership with Outdoor Industry Association and the generous support of its Leadership Partners; Amazon, Capitol One, Carhartt, L.L. Bean, Patagonia, REI, Thule, VF Corporation, Winnebago Industries, Wolverine Worldwide and countless others.

About Outdoor Foundation 

The Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Outdoor Industry Association, is a national 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to getting people outside for their health, the health of communities, and the health of the outdoor industry. Through community investment and groundbreaking research, the Outdoor Foundation works with partners across the country to address equity barriers and help make the outdoors accessible for all. Visit outdoorfoundation.org for more information.