The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded a $2.8 million grant to the Nature Kids/Jovenes de la Naturaleza Lafayette (NKJN) program for the group’s work to connect low-income and Latino youth living in Lafayette to nature and the outdoors. The grant is part of GOCO’s Inspire Initiative, which invests in places, programs, and career pathways to get kids outside in communities across the state. CLICK HERE to go to the Nature Kids/Jovenes de la Naturaleza Lafayette website.

The NKJN program has two goals:

1.  To ensure all Lafayette youth live within a safe 10 minute walk to nature.
2.  To connect youth to nature through a continuum of pre-k to high-school, backyard to back-country, and family integrated programming.

These goals will be achieved over five years by a collaboration of thirty-nine partnering nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and local businesses led by Thorne Nature Experience.

During 2016, Low-income and Latino residents from Lafayette participated in a year-long, $200,000+ planning effort funded primarily by GOCO and Thorne Nature Experience. 200 youth and adults ages 5 to 40, 80% of whom are Latino, helped NKJN collaborators to understand the barriers they face to connecting with nature and the outdoors and their ideas for removing these barriers. Gustavo Renya, Mayor Pro-Tem of Lafayette, has called the NKJN community engagement effort, “the most significant effort to date to reach out to Lafayette’s Latino community and learn about the needs of young Latinos and their families.”

82 separate programming components to be carried out over five years and six capital construction projects to build new parks, trails, and recreational amenities have been designed as part of the NKJN program to address community members stated needs and desires. Programming components include in-school opportunities and field trips for elementary school age youth, for credit academic classes and after school clubs and paid employment opportunities at the middle and high school grade levels, summer camps, and a progression of family nature experiences that include day-long and overnight trips to hike, camp, and participate in the outdoor recreation activities. The capital construction projects will bring nature to the Alicia Sanchez Elementary and Escuela Bilingua Pioneer schoolyards, create parks along the Coal Creek Trail Corridor, and create linkages between low-income neighborhoods and parks and open spaces through new trails, bike-lanes, and pedestrian street crossing and widened sidewalks. The total NKJN program is valued at $10.5 million.

CLICK HERE to see paid internship opportunities available with Nature Kids/Jovenes de la Naturaleza!

CLICK HERE to go to the Nature Kids/Jovenes de la Naturaleza website.