As part of our 2015 strategic plan, GOCO created the Inspire Initiative, now known as Generation Wild, to break down barriers to the outdoors for youth and families across Colorado. Today, its two-pronged approach includes a grant program and a communications campaign driving toward the same goal: get Colorado kids and their families outside more often. The movement is mission-driven, partner-supportive, and public-serving.
A decade of discussion and exploring the role GOCO could play in addressing how marginalized youth and families access the outdoors led to the launch of the Generation Wild grant program. The program supports diverse, community-based coalitions, made up of local governments, schools, health-based organizations, and youth-serving nonprofits, in providing outdoor programming and employment opportunities through a flexible framework. Each coalition is unique and built to reflect the community it serves. Together, the coalitions are elevating the youth voice and creating equitable access to the outdoors across our state.
Back in 2015, GOCO released a request-for-proposals for communities interested in establishing a coalition and funded planning efforts before awarding implementation funding in 2016 and 2017. Now, the coalitions provide a variety of outdoor experiences for kids, including summer camps, after-school programs, overnight trips, and more—catering to youth of different ages and experience levels and their families. They also employ youth from their communities in “pathways” programs, which introduce young people to the possibilities of future outdoor careers.
In 2017, as the coalitions became established, GOCO began the Generation Wild communications campaign to spread the movement’s message to a statewide audience, inspiring Colorado kids and their families to spend time outside in every corner of Colorado. Because, as the tagline says, "Kids grow better outside."
Now in its fourth year, the communications side of Generation Wild is a social-change campaign with the goal of transforming an entire generation of kids. Research indicates that today’s youth spend more than seven hours on screens and only a few minutes playing outside each day. To inspire and motivate families statewide, the campaign uses a variety of high-visibility, high-frequency media tactics from spring to fall and shares content on social media and online year-round.
Both the grant program and the communications campaign have proved successful. Collectively, Generation Wild coalitions have offered 2,140 programs and 1,361 pathway opportunities to more than 40,000 youth. Kids who are involved with a coalition report spending more time outside and express increased interest in outdoor activities. On the communications side, 74% of moms surveyed after two campaign seasons were familiar with campaign elements, 66% had a copy of our ‘100 Things to Do Before You’re 12’ list, and nearly half had shared Generation Wild with their network.
To date, GOCO has invested more than $33 million in the Generation Wild movement, which includes $25 million for the grant program and more than $9 million in the communications campaign. Other funding partners have also invested in the movement, with $4 million from the Colorado Health Foundation, $75,000 from the Boettcher Foundation, and $50,000 from DaVita. Over the next five years, GOCO will invest up to $22.8 million to sustain existing coalitions and in up to three new coalitions. We will also continue our communications efforts with up to a $10.5 million investment over the next five years.
Generation Wild is a key equity driver for GOCO and supports the equity focus outlined in our 2020 strategic plan. The coalitions supported through the grant program work to break down barriers to the outdoors in some of Colorado’s most under-resourced communities, and the communications campaign provides information for a broad swath of parents, grandparents, and other caregivers in both English and Spanish. We are committed to promoting the outdoors as a place for all Coloradans and look forward to continuing this work.
Learn about the communities that received planning and implementation grants from 2015-2017:
- Planning Grants Awarded
- Implementation Grants Awarded to Six Pilot Communities
- Implementation Grants Awarded to Nine Additional Communities
How to Apply
Check back soon for more information about future funding opportunities.
For grant program inquiries, contact Youth Initiatives Program Officer Erika Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.226.4512.
For information about the communications program and its partnerships, contact Director of Communications Rosemary Dempsey at email@example.com or 303.226.4530.