River LA is excited to announce a three year state grant to providing outdoor activities for youth from the city of Compton under the California State OEP (Outdoor Equity Grant) program.
What is the Outdoor Equity Grants Program (OEP)?
The Outdoor Equity Grants Program (OEP) improves the health and wellness of Californians through new educational and recreational activities, service learning, career pathways, and leadership opportunities that strengthen a connection to the natural world. OEP’s intent is to increase the ability of residents in underserved communities to participate in greater outdoor experiences within their community, at state parks, and other public lands.
A few facts about OEP:
The Outdoor Equity Grants Program was established by Assembly Bill 209 (Limon). Round One applications were received on October 8, 2021, and grant awards were announced on May 27, 2022, with over $167.78 million in requests - 384 grant applications and $57 million in grants – 125 grants were awarded.
OEP and River LA
River LA has been awarded, and in the process of fulfilling, Round 1 of the Outdoor Equity Grants Program with the Project "Holistic Outdoor Programming" to the community of Compton for a grant amount of $416,678.
River LA is working with the Compton Unified School District to identify participants who can be most impacted by this unique opportunity.
River LA Program Activities and Partners
Through the Outdoor Equity Grant Program we are providing over 40 Activity Days serving over 2400 participants in outdoor-based community events and nature area trips.
Outward Bound River Trip (Resilient Rio 51)
The Resilient Rio 51 program engages urban youth with the LA River through a series of group courses of recreational activities such as running, walking, hiking, gardening, kayaking, yoga, and games, combined with river-oriented educational curricula and leadership development. The educational curricula focuses on water resources, engineering, ecology, green infrastructure, public health, and natural habitats.
Wildlife Learning Center
Participants have the rare opportunity to hold, touch, and feed animals and learn about animal husbandry careers. A few of the animals included in the program are sloths, porcupines, armadillos, falcons, monkeys and giraffes. The Wildlife learning center offers a nurturing, stress-relieving, and direct experience with nature that fosters a connection unlike few people can ever experience. Students work with animal experts as they walk through the nature park, which is an old olive grove, appreciating nature and learning about the animals and their critical environmental needs. In addition to the guided - instructional tour, students also have free time to roam and reflect on their own.
Wolf Connection - Angeles National Forest
"At Wolf Connection, students are empowered to connect with their authentic selves as they experience relationships with rescued wolves and the natural environment. These deeply intuitive animals inspire young people to be fully present in their bodies, release ideas and behaviors that no longer serve them, and understand their unique role in a human “pack” or community. Youth learn to forgive, and give themselves and others the love and respect they deserve." Wolf Connection encourages youth –with a focus on at-risk youth – to become stewards of the earth. It is easier to understand the "how" to do this when having a meaningful experience with animals in nature. This adventure includes a hike in the Angeles National Forest with the wolves and a good deal of work on self-reflection, awareness, and regulation.
After attending the program students and program leaders for Compton and Chavez High School shared their enthusiasm and excitement about the opportunity to participate and bond with nature and the wolves.
"This was an awesome program!"
"Hopefully we can have these guys back again!"
"The kids were great!"
"Thank you all for making this connection of youth and wolves happen!"
Nature Walks, Gardening and Environmental Exploration Festival (Upcoming Programs)
These programs will provide participants with opportunities to learn about the environment and meet role models with a focus on "Careers in the Wild." Environmental Exploration Day will increase the community’s understanding of what it means to be part of fostering long-term environmental stewardship and inspire participants to take action in protecting our natural resources.
The goal of gardening in nature is to inspire students to become environmental advocates by establishing urban gardens that green their communities and own backyards and transform these areas from produce deserts to sustainable abundance. The activity will create a continuously growing movement that greens communities through the establishment of urban gardens. It will also show the 1,200 youth involved in this program how to take control of their own environment.
River LA will be providing participants the opportunity to either earn a bike by learning basic safety and repair skills or gain the skills of repairing their own bikes. The River LA bike engineering and education activity will help combat the physical inactivity crisis, promote equitable access to safe places to exercise, and build interpersonal skills. Youth participants will be led through a series of lessons in bicycle repair and maintenance.
This program funded by the Outdoor Equity Grants Program, created through AB 209 and administered by California State Parks, Office of Grants, and Local Services.