Washington DC – This year 4,050 people, including 1,875 youth, had the opportunity to get outside - many for the first time - and explore America’s waterways. Thanks to the Paddle Nation Grant Program, an initiative connecting young people to their rivers, streams, lakes and oceans, funded by Outdoor Retailer, National Park Service and many paddle-sport manufacturers, retailers and stakeholders. In total, $40,000 was awarded to the 17 best, most effective, projects that introduced paddling to a new generation. Today, the 2015 Paddle Nation Grant Program opened. Those interested can apply by April 13.
Unique in the outdoor industry, the Paddle Nation Grant Program was launched in 2012 with financial support and leadership from Outdoor Retailer and many companies in the paddle-sport industry including Advanced Elements, ACK, BIC Sport, Confluence Outdoor, Glenbrook Consumer Partners, Johnson Outdoors Inc., Kokatat, MTI Adventurewear, O.A.R.S., River Sports Outfitters, and Rutabaga Paddlesports. Leveraging this industry support, the National Park Service joined as a major funder in 2013, significantly expanding the grant program.
“The outdoors provides the perfect backdrop to learn life lessons and make lasting memories,” said Marisa Nicholson, Vice President and Show Director for Outdoor Retailer. “Outdoor Retailer is proud to support the Paddle Nation Grant Program and the overall initiative to get people of all ages outdoors to experience the beauty and fun that our waterways offer.”
Since its inception, 42 paddle projects have been funded in 29 states with more than $130,000 awarded to nonprofit organizations. Working with 23 different retailers, 8,777 people have gotten outside on waterways including 5,422 youth. In totally, nearly 68,000 hours were spent outside paddling.
“Thanks to the leadership and support of our partners, we are investing in the ideas, and projects that drive a massive increase in participation on our waterways,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. “Through these Paddle Nation Grants, young people of all ages explore rivers, lakes and streams through a variety of activities – inspiring a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts and environmental stewards.”