GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Grand Rapids was one of four communities chosen by the Outdoor Foundation in their Thrive Outside Community Initiative

The initiative will provide a multi-year capacity-building grant to strengthen partnerships between local organizations such as schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA's and nonprofit conservation and outdoor organizations.

The goal of Thrive Outside Community is to create healthy individuals, communities, economies and environments by making the outdoors a habit for kids and families of all backgrounds.

Grand Rapids intends to engage kids of all ages with an emphasis on those in 5th through 12th grades. 

The Thrive Outside Grand Rapids Community will be led by Our Community's Children -- a partnership of the City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Public Schools -- the city's parks and recreation department and a close set of initial partners in the Grand Rapids Environmental Education network.

According to the Outdoor Foundation's Outdoor Participation report, fewer than 18 percent of Americans recreate outside once per week and fewer than 50 percent report getting outside even once per year.

“We didn’t become an indoor species overnight, and the decline of outdoor activity in the United States is a problem that requires collaboration, funding and scale,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, Outdoor Foundation executive director. “For a variety of reasons, the days when children were outside playing more than they were inside have passed – this has to change for the health of our children, families and communities. With this grant, we are helping to fuel an outdoor movement in and around Grand Rapids to bring back that connection by supporting local community partners to create a network focused on getting as many children and families as possible experiencing the outdoors in a positive way, so we don’t have anything to lose."

Other communities chosen for the inaugural Thrive Outside Community initiative include Atlanta, San Diego and Oklahoma City. Each community was chosen based on written applications, location visits, in-person interviews and third-party consultant research.

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