No Child Left Inside Alliance

An alliance of outdoor organizations are getting public funding for youth outdoor education grants. Learn how The Mountaineers is involved.
Becca Polglase Becca Polglase
March 24, 2015
No Child Left Inside Alliance

On Monday, March 23, we were excited to return to Olympia with our partners in the No Child Left Inside Alliance to testify in support of Senate Bill 5843.

No Child Left Inside is a grants program established in 2008 by the Washington State Legislature. In it, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission would award outdoor education and recreation grant funds to public agencies, private nonprofit organizations, formal school programs, informal after school programs and community based programs. 

This program has gone unfunded since 2008, and The Mountaineers has been actively engaged in the NCLI Alliance to refund the program. We've been working along with organizations like IslandWood, North Cascades Institute, Project Rebirth, the city of Darrington, Outward Bound, NatureBridge, the YMCA, The Wilderness Society, and REI, lobbying in Olympia.

No Child Left Inside is that rare piece of legislation supported by everyone - Democrats, Republicans, nonprofits and businesses - and with good reason! NCLI benefits kids from all communities: rural, urban, suburban and children of military families. Getting kids outside means less screen time and better overall mental and physical health at a time when rates of obesity, ADD and heart problems are skyrocketing. And of course, getting kids outside today creates stewards for our natural resources of tomorrow.

Beyond the health benefits of No Child Left Inside, this legislation is extra special in Washington. The State of Washington's outdoor recreation economy is worth $21 billion. We need the next generation of Washingtonians to be excited about participating in and growing that engine.

Washington's NCLI has inspired federal legislation of the same name because governments at all levels understand that investing in outdoor opportunities for kids - opportunities that make them smarter, more active and well-rounded - benefits us all.

So why are The Mountaineers involved?

Besides the obvious that it is central to our mission of helping people explore, learn about and conserve the lands and waters of the PNW, this bill may provide an avenue for additional funding for youth agencies that attend our Mountain Workshops.  

Thanks to our wonderful donors, we are able to provide significant financial assistance to our partner agencies. But the pot isn't bottomless, and the more money we give to one agency, the fewer agencies we'll be able to provide assistance to. When groups come to us with partial funding, it is much easier for us to provide assistance to make up the difference.

Through No Child Left Inside, agencies will be able to apply for grants to support their kids' outdoor education. The result: more kids outside more days of the year, ultimately instilling a love of the outdoors in more of our future generations!

In summary - No Child Left Inside is a grants program that supports the physical and mental health of our youth, the well-being of our communities, the health of our state economy, and the education of future conservationists. Really, what's not to love? The NCLI Alliance has been working hard in Olympia to give this message a prominent seat in the sea of information overload that our legislators are in.

Thanks in part to the work of the NCLI Alliance, Senate Bill 5843, which appropriates $1M to the NCLI grant program and $300k to establish a senior advisor on Outdoor Recreation in the Governor's office, passed out of the Senate on March 11.  On March 23, the House Committee on Environment held a public hearing where we testified, along with our friends in the NCLI Alliance, in support of this bill.  Yesterday's team pictured below:  Kristen Ragain (REI), Josh Brandon (Project Rebirth), Ben Klasky (Islandwood), Craig Engleking (Engage Strategies), Becca Polglase (The Mountaineers).

NCLI Alliance

Stay tuned as we hope this bill will move quickly through the legislature in the coming weeks.

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