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CalSOL: California Statewide Outdoor Learning

Students who participate in outdoor education perform better in school and on standardized tests in math, English, science, and social studies. Some states have begun recognizing this: in 2016 Oregon passed Measure 99 to fund outdoor programs through their state lottery; similarly, Hawaii is advancing legislation for a No Child Left Inside grant program. Sadly, California has no statewide system to provide outdoor education—but we’re working to change that!

A private family foundation, and additional private donors, have provided The Escondido Creek Conservancy (Conservancy) with funding to organize a campaign for statewide outdoor education so that all California school children can experience outdoor learning at every grade level, and that such opportunities are an integral part of California public education. The Conservancy is launching the first year of an ongoing campaign to develop and implement a strategy for providing standards-aligned outdoor education programs throughout California.

This is an equity issue. Since a significant amount of school funding in California comes from property taxes, those in the poorest areas receive less. As a result, schools in park-poor, disadvantaged areas often lack discretionary funds for transportation to a park, even though these communities are often the ones with the greatest need for access to nature. But dedicated outdoor education funding at the state level would mean all public-school children receive the positive benefits of learning in nature.


The first year of this campaign will focus on identifying and organizing stakeholders around a central funding strategy and building an advocacy coalition that will be deployed in Sacramento and across the state. The Conservancy is also currently working with the California Legislature to secure more immediate-term funding, which would provide the opportunity to implement pilot programs around the state to set the stage for statewide funding.

Our funder has requested that we provide a partial match of $30,000. New donors are already stepping up to assist. Please help us make outdoor learning for all California public schools a reality by donating to support this cause.

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