Parks California – It’s in our nature Donate

2021 Route to Parks Grantees

2021 Route to Parks Grantees 

Parks California is thrilled to announce the 2021 Route to Parks grants to nonprofits and organizations across the state that are expanding access to the outdoors and instilling a personal connection with nature. The grants are made possible by a joint agreement between California State ParksParks California – dedicated to strengthening parks and inspiring all to experience these extraordinary places – and the generous support of donors and grantmakers who believe in the benefits and magic of nature.   

Adventure Risk Challenge  

Adventure Risk Challenge Community Leadership Program 

Adventure Risk Challenge facilitates transformational opportunities for rural, low-income, and English Learner high school students. Community Leadership Program will empower underserved youth through integrated leadership, literacy, and wilderness experiences. The outdoor experiences will include six excursions to state parks, most of which will be overnight trips and culminate in a month-long summer course. These outdoor experiences are part of a longer two-year progression for youth to achieve academic success, to access outdoor spaces, and to exercise leadership in their communities and beyond.

 Big City Mountaineers  

Deepening Relationships through and with the Outdoors 

Big City Mountaineers is partnered with four youth development non-profits in the Bay Area and Sacramento, enabling students to experience and connect with some of California’s most special natural areas, while strengthening and expanding their social-emotional skills.  The program provides access for 80 youth who come from historically marginalized communities. Programming includes a series of outings in California State parks, including day hikes and overnights, which will lead up to a weeklong backpacking experience. The fully outfitted, and professionally guided trips will foster greater interest and comfort in outdoor spaces, as well as deepen student’s relationships with peers and mentors.

City of Dreams 

Youth to Parks 

City of Dreams supports the youth living in San Francisco’s public housing communities build bright futures through mentorship, youth development, and outdoor experiences. The Youth to Parks program connects participants and their families to their nearest state park, Candlestick Point Recreation Area. Participants will receive interpreter lead activities to engage youth in environmental stewardship, STEM knowledge and the physical and mental health benefits of outdoor recreation. The youth will also have the opportunity to participate in day and overnight trips to state parks in the surrounding region. City of Dreams programming will help these youth build bright futures rooted in connections to nature and community.


City of La Habra – Community Services 

Making the Connections to Nature, Recreation and Protection of our California State Parks 

The City of La Habra Community Services will provide opportunities for their community to connect with state parks through excursions and education. A central part of their program is a community information session, where participants can learn about regional state parks, Leave No Trace principles, and have an introduction to hiking and camping. The program will also provide introductory experiences to a group of 50 youth with a 1-day beach trip, and a four-day midweek group camping trip. They hope these programs can act as a model for other cities to connect their citizens to state parks.

Community Nature Connection 

Terngava Naturalist Yu’pa 

Terngava Naturalist Yu’pa’ translates to Summer Naturalist in the Wild. Community Nature Connection will work with the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians Education and Cultural Learning Department to coordinate and implement the Terngava Naturalist Yu’pa’ Program. This program will result in four access trips to California State Parks for tribal youth and families. The culturally relevant programming will increase knowledge of topics of ecology, land acknowledgements, outdoor recreation, storytelling, and traditional names and uses of plants among participants.

 Justice Outside    

Outdoor Educators Institute (Fresno) 

Justice Outside actively recruits young professionals from historically marginalized communities and provides training that emphasizes cultural relevancy and equity alongside technical outdoor skills. Outdoor Educators Institute challenges inequity and exclusion by supporting young leaders and partnering organizations to shift their institutional culture and operations. Program outcomes also include improving engagement of underrepresented youth and expanding opportunities for youth to identify and connect with leaders in outdoor education programs. This grant will focus in recruitment and training for young leaders in Fresno.

 Latino Outdoors  

¡Vamos Outdoors, Fresno! 

To help reduce barriers to access, the Fresno chapter of Latino Outdoors will host beginner-level outdoor experiences for Latinx families with free outings to California State Parks along the central coast and Sierra Nevada. Latino Outdoors will foster culturally relevant relationships between the public lands and participants through nature tours guided by volunteer leaders. Vamos Outdoors will consist of two, one day outings andone overnight campout in the Sierra Nevada for 60 participants. During outings, informational programming will be presented including current knowledge of local ecosystems and information on the Indigenous communities. Vamos Outdoors also offers virtual outdoor programming with videos that feature best practices and “How to” content to further reduce barriers to access.

Marine Science Institute  

Marsh and Beach Exploration: Improving Access to Pescadero State Beach 

Marine Science Institute will provide students from low-income Bay Area schools access to Pescadero State Beach through the Marsh and Beach Exploration program. Transportation is often a barrier for many students to experience the State Beach, the program will utilize its partnerships with school districts to provide bus transportation and low-cost programming to schools where the financial need is greatest. With Marine Science Institute 500 low-income, K-12 students will have the opportunity to explore sandy beach and marsh ecology at Pescadero State Beach.

MeWater Foundation   

MeWater Foundation Surf & Outdoor Education Camps 

MeWater Foundation organizes surf and ocean education camps that provide underserved and at-risk youth with access to local beaches and coastal areas. Using youth development-based programming, MeWater focuses on building personal wellness and social responsibility and encourages stewardship of the environment in an outdoor therapeutic setting. The youth served, aged 5-20, come from low-income and trauma-impacted communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. MeWater will hold 40 camps serving 600 youth during the 12-month program, teaching surfing, water safety, and lifelong ocean and outdoor knowledge.

Nature for All  

All Aboard for Nature 

The All Aboard for Nature program will provide transportation for disadvantaged communities from each Los Angeles County district to four Los Angeles County and California State Parks, beaches, and recreational areas. Nature for All will leverage its Leadership Academy to provide bilingual interpretive services from ambassadors who come from the communities they serve. Additionally, communities that have transit lines connecting them to open spaces will be taught how to utilize these bus lines. The program will host 10 trips with at least 200 community members. During programming, participants will be provided with a nature journal, and will be prompted to explore mental health and wellness and its connection to nature.

NatureTrack Foundation  

NatureTracks / NewTracks 

NewTracks will provide outdoor field trips to local beaches and trails for wheelchair users and others who are mobility impaired. Using Freedom Trax devices, which quickly transform a manual wheelchair into a battery-powered, all-terrain vehicle, participants of all ages will be able to enjoy the beaches of the central coast. This program provides an opportunity for wheelchair users to independently maneuver their wheelchair in areas that have previously been inaccessible. NatureTracks organizes transportation for small field trips of five participants, which are open to the public or can be booked by educators. Overall, they expect to host 30-35 NewTracks field trips over the next year.

Outdoor Outreach    

State Parks Discovery Program 

Outdoor Outreach partners with Title I schools to leverage the outdoors as a space to provide key interventions for youth. The program removes both the real and perceived barriers that these young people face in accessing state parks by offering repeat and reinforced opportunities that cultivate a feeling of inclusion at state parks. Over the grant period, 20+ program outings will be offered for the youth as well as a monthly multi-generational family experiences. With the opportunity to overcome challenges in a safe mentor supported environment, participants will increase their chances for success and gain a sense of stewardship.

Point Lobos Foundation  

Experience Point Lobos for Youth & Families Residing in Community Housing and Severely Disadvantaged 

The Point Lobos Foundation will provide park experiences to 500 youth, and their families, who reside in affordable community housing. The project will create and sustain new access opportunities to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve as well as connect, educate, and inspire participants to preserve natural and cultural resources. As a multiple touch-point project, components not only remove access barriers for one visit but set the course for continued multi-generational visits. Families will receive free transportation and interpretive presentations throughout their initial visits, so they become increasingly knowledgeable, prepared, and confident to continue visits on their own.

Pukúu Cultural Community Services   

Tutcint Nature Advocates Program 

The Tutcint Nature Advocates Program engages indigenous youth in an empowerment program with the objective of creating social justice leaders by reclaiming indigenous knowledge and holistic well-being. Pukuu focuses programming in northern Los Angeles County with an emphasis on providing services to Native American youth, as well as the youth of San Fernando, addressing the needs of historically marginalized communities. The program will provide 12 excursions to state parks with workshops and demonstrations that uplift Traditional Ecological Knowledge of the region through curriculum, storytelling, outdoor and cultural activities.

Redwood Community Action Agency   

Nuevas Aventuras en las Antiguas Secuoyas Gigantes 

Nuevas Aventuras en las Antiguas Secuoyas Gigantes’, will bring the LatinX community together in Humboldt County through immersive, inclusive, multigenerational California State Park experiences. The program will serve five classrooms from the most under-resourced LatinX populations in the region to offer a multitouch experience including a lesson, a PORTS remote program, and a visit to Humboldt Redwoods State Park including transportation and meal costs. This program also supports Latinx interpretive experiences in State Parks through guide and interpreter translation and career-building opportunities for LatinX emerging student leaders from Humboldt State University.

Santa Barbara Police Activities League   

PALs Outdoors 

PALs Outdoors will take Police Activities League students on visits to California State Parks and beaches to provide enriching outdoor experiences and access to nature and history. The outdoor experiences are in addition to PALs mentoring programs, therefore trips are an additional opportunity for peer and mentor bonding. The relationships between mentors, staff, and students create a safe and comfortable space for new experiences. PALs staff are representative of the youth they serve, so culturally competent education is provided to the 80+ students participating in three PALs Outdoor trips. 

Sonoma Ecology Center  

Increasing Access to Sugarloaf through Senderos Naturales and Transportation Programs 

Sonoma Ecology Center provides culturally relevant Spanish-language outreach and programming for families to encourage community members from diverse backgrounds to visit Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. The Senderos Naturales program focuses on monthly nature-driven programs for the Spanish-speaking community and provides family-oriented bilingual outings. Their transportation programs overcome barriers for low-income families by offering free parking, low-cost annual parking passes, and no-cost rideshare vouchers. Together, these programs build opportunities for new and continued experiences at Sugarloaf for families who may have otherwise not visited the park.

The LEAP Institute  

LEAP Route to the Parks 

The Latino Equity Advocacy & Policy Institute (The LEAP Institute) will engage farmer worker families from the San Joaquin Valley in weekend camping trips. This program will overcome cost prohibitive and transportation barriers to provide farmworker families the opportunity to visit natural areas. A total of six camping trips with 84 participants will include hiking, swimming and environmental justice education activities. The LEAP Institute aims to increase social justice awareness, grassroots leadership, and Latino empowerment, to achieve environmental justice while improving community health.

United American Indian Involvement, Inc.  

Bear Tracks 

The Bear Tracks project engages urban American Indian and Alaska Native youth in the Los Angeles area in health and wellness activities through the outdoors. The program educates youth about the importance of a healthy lifestyle through a combination of workshops on healthy eating and outdoor activities. Bear Tracks will take 30 youth on four state park visits where youth will participate in hiking, camping, sports, and talking circles. Youth will also have the opportunity to join stewardship activities and learn about the natural environment.

Youth Mentoring Action Network 

Pathways to Our Parks 

Pathway to Our Parks is a 12-month project dedicated to increasing access to and use of local and state parks for BIPOC youth from low-income families in the Inland Empire. This project will provide youth with immersive outdoor experiences that spark enthusiasm for California’s outdoor spaces and promote a sense of connection, ownership, and stewardship for Black and Brown youth. All Youth Mentoring Action Network Programs emphasize the use of critical mentoring, a youth-centered form of mentoring that incorporates an understanding of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. Pathways to Our Parks is a multi-touch program that will provide day trips to five different parks to 100 participants.