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NPF supports programs and projects that create unique experiences, ensuring everyone can find their own connection to a national park and empowering the next generation of park stewards. Together with our partners, NPF invites every individual to engage with the classrooms that are our national parks, to find and foster relationships rooted in our public lands, and to lend a hand in bolstering the strength of the local teams, communities, and organizations upon whom parks depend.
Students Connected to Parks
Invested in Growing Nonprofit Partners
Service Corps Members Engaged
Youth Engagement & Education
NPF’s youth engagement and education projects help the next generation of park champions engage with America’s largest classroom – our national parks.
Photo: Chance James / NPF
One Million Kids in Parks
Through the Open OutDoors for Kids program, NPF has connected over one million students with national parks. And NPF is working on one million more. Field trips are engaging students across the country through these outdoor classrooms, including fourth graders from Merced, California. Although Merced is only 80 miles from Yosemite Valley, many of Merced’s students have never visited Yosemite — or any other national park. Led by student rangers from their same communities — recruited from University of California, Merced — these field trips allow the students and rangers to forge lasting and relevant connections focused on the wonder of our national parks.
The curriculum is really pushing their critical thinking skills of how they play an active role in the environment and its conservation.
Building upon a five-year relationship with the park, NPF funded a community science project at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve to connect local Louisiana students with the “lab” of the park’s environment. With additional funding from the Walton Family Foundation, NPF and the park helped local teachers enhance classroom STEM curricula through hands-on projects at the site. And these visits have a lasting impact – the data logged by students and other community members help scientists observe and track water quality and other natural resources over time.
Connecting 20,000 Students in San Antonio
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, drawing visitors from around the world. It’s also an urban park – serving the local San Antonio population. At the center of the park’s plan to reach more local visitors: fourth graders. Having reached a key point in their learning and development, fourth graders are primed to experience national parks. With funding support from NPF, Union Pacific Railroad, and other Open OutDoors for Kids partners, the park hosted field trips throughout the spring, plus additional hybrid and in-classroom experiences. In 2022, the park used seasonal employees to scale its field trip program – serving over 20,000 students in just one year.
NPF’s outdoor exploration projects create opportunities for everyone to enjoy and create life-long relationships with our national parks.
Photo: Young Masterminds Initiative, Inc.
Photo: Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock
I was looking to give people an invitation to be outdoors in community. If you don’t know where to go, what to do, or what to bring, that invitation to a community can be really important.
Our national parks are a place for building LGBTQ community and connections. And they also tell the story of LGBTQ history. Pride Outside, a Washington, D.C. based national organization, is helping do just that by building community around the outdoors and hosting hikes, LGBTQ history tours, and outdoor skills courses. With support from Nature Valley and other ParkVentures partners, NPF helped fund Pride Outside’s Nature and Nurture series.
Disabled Vets Find Healing in Parks
While nature can be a naturally healing place, access to the outdoors isn’t always straightforward for disabled veterans. With support from Nature Valley and other partners of NPF’s ParkVentures program, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing brought together disabled veterans for a week of fishing in Shenandoah National Park. Participating veterans are recovering from traumatic brain injuries and PTSD, and many of the veteran anglers talked about their anxiety in crowds and difficulty leaving their houses. The program is helping create safe and accessible spaces in national parks for the veterans to gradually become reacquainted with group activities and build community through shared experiences.
Military Families Build Community
Photo: Filip Wolak
There's this shared experience that's happening right there in that moment. It creates an opportunity for conversation and connection that maybe wouldn't have happened before.
Approximately 600,000 military families move each year, making it difficult to build and foster a sense of belonging and community. Through Blue Star Families, families across the country connected with each other and their new communities through the NPF-supported Junior Ranger Angler program, attending recreational fishing clinics. The family friendly fishing clinics are affordable and accessible, inviting families stationed from Hawai‘i to Maine to connect to parks and each other.
Communities & Workforce
As a pivotal partner in an expansive network of national and local organizations, groups, and service corps, NPF is helping cultivate park stewardship in communities across the country.
Photo: Child & Family Services of NW MI, YouthWork
Community Collaboration Restores Trails
Photo: Musconetcong Watershed Association
Having the opportunity to work so closely with like-minded people, who have an Indigenous way of thinking, was really inspiring to us.
NPF supported a community collaboration, bringing together the Ramapough Lunaape Nation and local nonprofits to restore 1.8 miles of trail along the Musconetcong Wild and Scenic River. The restored trail creates access to the public while carefully preserving the Ramapough Lunaape Nation’s ancestral land. With support from REI Co-op, NPF funded a Student Conservation Association service corps crew that helped repair bridges, fill muskrat holes, patch split rail fencing, and restore and reinforce the riverbank. The repairs are a critical part of the work making the trail accessible to visitors for the first time in years.
Investing in Our Park Partners
Photo: Gateway Arch Park Foundation
These strategic investments in local groups elevate the creative opportunities, organizational efficacy, and bandwidth of the professional network that Friends Alliance serves.
NPF may be the official nonprofit of NPS, but there are over 450 private organizations across the country that work alongside NPF and NPS to support our parks – the nonprofit park partner community. The strength and resiliency of this park partner community is vital. In 2022, NPF granted a total of over $1.7 million in capacity building grants to 41 nonprofit park partner organizations, helping address the current needs of these organizations, from new technology and website redesigns to strategic planning and fundraising campaigns.
Supporting Recent College Graduates
Photo: Schoodic Institute
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NPF helped support the Cathy and Jim Gero Acadia Early-Career Fellowship, a highly competitive 10-month program for recent college graduates. The program supported three fellows: a science research fellow, an education fellow, and a communication fellow. Among many other activities, collectively they engaged and trained 95 citizen scientists, helped lead a three-day immersive education program for middle school students, and created multiple articles and podcasts about conservation in Acadia National Park.
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See the Work that Protects
The National Park Foundation grants support to programs and projects that connect people with parks and empower the next generation of park stewards – see the work we're doing to protect these treasured places.
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