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School Yard Initiative

Our School Yard Initiative (SYI) funds projects to inspire more active physical play and enhance outdoor learning on school grounds. All  projects must be designed, in part, by students. This program emphasizes projects that reach underserved youth and families who may otherwise have limited access to quality parks. All projects are required to be open to the public during non-school hours.

Elementary schools awarded grants can elect to become partner schools in Colorado Parks and Wildlife's Schools and Outdoor Learning Environments program (SOLE). SOLE provides outdoor experiences and teacher training to help students and families connect with nature on-site, and through fourth-grade field trips to nearby natural spaces.

WHO CAN APPLY

Schools can apply if they partner with an eligible local government, such as a city, county or park and recreation district. 

The majority of successful applicants have Free and Reduced Lunch rates above 40% and/or propose projects that help overcome significant barriers to youth and families enjoying the outdoors in their communities. We strongly recommend contacting GOCO staff before beginning work on your application to ensure that your project will compete well.

Charter schools should review the application carefully for requirements regarding land ownership. We are working to better support the growing need from charter schools, though short-term leases can present challenges to participation in this grant program. 

HOW TO APPLY

Before beginning your application, contact Youth Initiatives Program Coordinator Erika Meyer at emeyer@goco.org or 303-226-4512. discuss your project's eligibility.

Download the application and review the entire document before you start filling it out, paying particular attention to eligibility criteria so you are sure your project meets all requirements. Do not reference or re-use applications from prior grant cycles. 

All applications must be submitted online. To register, visit tinyurl.com/GOCOGranteePortal; to submit an application, use the link included in the current cycle's application form. Be sure to sign up for GOCO email updates to stay up to date on any program changes. Newsletters are released when new applications are posted. 

REQUIREMENTS

  • Match Requirements: The applicant and partner must provide 25% of the total project cost in matching funds. That 25% must include at least 10% in cash while the remaining 15% can be in-kind contributions, cash, or donations.
  • Project Components: Eligible project components can include but are not limited to traditional playgrounds, natural playgrounds, wild zones, and experiential environmental learning components like gardens, bioswales, wetlands, water features, weather stations and the similar items. Sports fields, tracks and other components for organized play are not eligible for SYI funding but can be funded through GOCO's Local Parks and Outdoor Recreation grant program.

RESOURCES AND FORMS

WHEN TO APPLY

  • May 1, 2017: Applications posted
  • January 9, 2018: Applications due via online portal
  • March 2018: Grants awarded

QUESTIONS?

Contact Program Coordinator Erika Meyer at 303.226.4512 or emeyer@goco.org