Opening the Outdoors Grant

The San Diego Foundation

Suggest an update

Grant amount: US $25,000 - US $75,000

Next anticipated deadline: Mar 9, 2019 12:00pm PST (Letter of inquiry)

Later anticipated deadlines: Apr 16, 2019 (Full proposal)

Applicant type: Nonprofit College / University Elementary / Secondary School

Funding uses: Applied Project / Program, Education / Outreach

Location of project: San Diego County, California

Location of residency: San Diego County, California

View website    Save Need help writing this grant?

About this funder:

View past grantees & full 990 summary



San Diegans take pride in protecting and restoring the region’s water, natural lands and air quality. In a Foundation-facilitated survey, Our Greater San Diego Vision, San Diegans throughout the region stated that a healthy, beautiful and accessible environment was a high priority. However, our Parks for Everyone report found that while more than 45% of San Diego County’s total land area is green space, many low-income, ethnically diverse communities have limited access to parks and open spaces. There was also a strong correlation between communities with high rates of childhood obesity and low park access.


It is with these findings in mind, that we launched our Opening the Outdoors program in 2013 to connect and protect nature, build trails, create outdoor spaces, and help get more kids outside. For the spring 2017 grants program, we will build on previous years of investments to advance community-driven efforts to develop and/ or improve access to an interconnected network of natural areas, gathering places, and trails across the county so that the outdoors is easily accessible from any San Diegan’s doorstep. 

2018 Grant Cycle

The San Diego Foundation is inviting Letters of Interest (LOI) from nonprofit organizations working to protect and connect outdoor spaces and improve outdoor access, especially for our most park-poor and underserved communities. Specifically, nonprofits may apply for $25,000 to $75,000 for projects/programs that contribute to one or more of the goals listed below:

  • Create and sustain access to natural amenities in communities where access to green space is limited, as defined in resources such as the Parks for Everyone report or Parks for All Californians.
  • Build community support for timely public policies or funding measures that will significantly expand protection, connection or access to wildlands and green space.
  • Connect and protect nature through conservation/restoration/acquisition of open space.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Projects must represent a collaboration of two or more groups (with 501(c)(3) status) that will all receive funding through this grant opportunity.
  • Each proposal must be led by a nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status and located in and serve San Diego County.
  • A 501(c)(3) organization may serve as a fiscal sponsor for another applicant to administer the grant and provide regular financial reporting to The Foundation. 


  • This year, the Opening the Outdoors program will prioritize applications that:
    • Demonstrate they are developing long-lasting solutions to overcome underlying barriers preventing high-need, low-income and/or park poor populations from accessing the outdoors, with particular focus on the communities of El Cajon, Escondido, Lemon Grove, National City and neighborhoods within the City of San Diego with limited access to green space. and/or
    • Building the capacity of their organization(s) to deliver more effective or efficient solutions to protect, connect and increase access to the outdoors.
    • By focusing on these core issues, we hope to make long-lasting, sustainable changes that bring us closer to reaching the goals set forth in Our Greater San Diego Vision and close the gaps identified in Parks for Everyone
  • We strongly encourage partnerships between nonprofits to maximize the impact of this funding. As such, with this round of funding we will continue prioritizing applications and increase scoring points for collaborative projects. 
  • The San Diego Foundation is interested in projects that will measure progress towards the above goals through metrics such as the following. Please note we do not require each project to have measurable goals around all of these, but will take these metrics into account when selecting final projects.
    • Acres of restored or conserved lands,
    • New natural amenities available in communities where resources are deficient (i.e. number of plants installed, number of parks improved/expanded, miles of trail improved, etc.),
    • Number of youth from park-poor or low-income communities engaged in nature-based enhancement, education or programs through this project,
    • Number of organizational partners involved in implementing the project,
    • Number of short-term (~volunteering less than 20 hours per year) and long-term (~volunteering more than 20 hours per year) volunteers engaged during this project,
    • Number of residents from the community you are working in that are engaged in nature-based enhancement, education or advocacy activities,
    • Number and name of public policy or public funding measures which this project aims to impact,
    • Additional public or private funding leveraged for this project.