The National Park Service and the Outdoor Foundation announced the recipients of the 2016 Challenge Cost Share Program, which supports projects that promote urban outreach, youth engagement and connecting people to the outdoors. Nationally, the partners selected 17 projects from 62 applications, awarding more than $360,000 that will be matched by an estimated $760,000 in direct and in-kind contributions from recipients. More than 10,000 youth are expected to be engaged during this celebration of the National Park Services Centennial.
Glass House Collective received $25,000 to support its work to engage the local East Chattanooga community. Planning is underway to establish the Glass Street Connector trail between the community and Sherman Reservation, a unit of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park located on Missionary Ridge. Through a diverse partnership with the Trust for Public Land, the Southeast Conservation Corps, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Park, and the City of Chattanooga, the project is making headway. Several community clean-up days have already been held in the past months, and Phase I of trail construction is scheduled to begin this summer.
“You can see Sherman Reservation from Glass Street, but few of our residents are aware that we have a National Park within walking distance to this community,” said Teal Thibaud, Executive Director of the Glass House Collective. “We have an opportunity to connect our community with nature and history, increase physical activity, and make this neighborhood a more inviting place to live.”
“This year the National Park Service celebrates its 100th Anniversary. This project represents the future of our nation’s park system as we look to educate young people about the importance national, state and local parks,” explained Alison Bullock, Community Planner with the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program.
The Challenge Cost Share Program supports National Park Service parks, National Trails and Wild and Scenic Rivers that are aligned with partners that promote urban outreach, youth engagement and/or connecting people to the outdoors. The initiative requires a 1:1 match by the local recipient — resulting in greater financial leverage and impact. In addition, the Outdoor Foundation is actively seeking additional support for the selected projects. Program priorities include:
- Urban Outreach: Projects to promote active healthy living, restore or conserve community natural and cultural assets, or promote close-to-home access to recreation within an urban setting.
- Youth Engagement: Projects to engage youth participants to play, learn, serve and work associated with National Park Service sites and programs.
- Connecting People to the Outdoors: Projects to enhance tangible and/or intangible access to the outdoors that provide increased outdoor recreation opportunities.
“The Outdoor Foundation is thrilled to partner with the National Park Service to reconnect Americans to their national parks and engage a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts and stewards,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. “The Challenge Cost Share program is one of the most effective initiatives that leverages public and private funds and invests in local partnerships that deliver results.”