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School Yard Initiative (SYI)

Grants to Colorado Local Governments Partnering with Schools and School
Districts to Revitalize Outdoor Learning Spaces and School Playgrounds

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW)

Deadline Date:

01/07/20 4:00 PM


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Grants to Colorado municipalities, counties, and park and recreation districts in partnership with schools or school districts to create outdoor learning and play environments and improve school playgrounds. Applicants must contact program staff prior to submitting an application. Funding is intended to support projects that are planned and designed by students, constructed on or adjacent to school grounds, and open to the general public outside school hours.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), in partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), is requesting proposals for projects that seek to revitalize school playgrounds and outdoor learning environments across the state with an emphasis on opportunities for nature-based play and learning. The most competitive projects will be those that increase opportunities for outdoor education and play, reflect a participatory design process led by the students and supported by the local community. 

Funding can be used to develop a new school yard and/or to enhance or improve existing school yards. Projects must include spaces for outdoor play and learning. Projects can include green schoolyards, natural playscapes, age specific play equipment, outdoor classrooms, learning gardens, waterplay features, climbing walls, walking paths, environmental education signage, and shade. Experiential environmental learning components include gardens, bioswales, wetlands, water features, weather stations and  similar items. Projects that include natural components will likely be more competitive.

The project budget must include funding for signage that informs the community of the days and hours the school yard is open to the public. 

For a list of eligible costs, see the SYI Application found in Supporting Documents below.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 140856

Estimated Size of Grant:

Applicants are eligible to receive grants of up to $110,000. Up to $10,000 of that funding can be used to complete design documents.

Term of Contract:

Grantees are allowed up to two years for construction.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

School Yard projects must be proposed through a partnership between a local government and school district or school. Article XXVII of the Colorado Constitution establishes that the only entities eligible to receive grants through this initiative are municipalities, counties, and title 32 special park and recreation districts. Those eligible entities may sponsor projects on behalf of entities that are not eligible for GOCO funding; allowing schools the opportunity to construct projects on school grounds. For the purposes of this initiative, the local government will serve as the applicant, and the school will serve as the partner

Property ownership: All property on which GOCO funded projects are located must be owned by or under control of the applicant for the useful life of the project. Considering these projects will be constructed on school grounds and therefore owned by the school/school district, an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the local government and the school district will be required if grant funding is awarded.

Program requirement: Schools are required to work with a professional design consultant to prepare conceptual design documents as part of the application process. For a list of professional design consultants, see the Design Consultant List found in Supporting Documents below.

The majority of successful applicants have free and reduced priced meal rates above 40% and/or propose projects that help overcome significant barriers to youth and families enjoying the outdoors in their communities. It is strongly recommended that interested applicants contact GOCO staff before beginning work on their application to ensure that their project will compete well.

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

For a list of ineligible costs, see the SYI Application found in Supporting Documents below.

Pre-Application Information:

Applications are due by 4pm on Tuesday, January 7, 2020.

- December 6, 2019: Draft applications for initial review due (optional)
- January 7, 2020: Applications due
- March 2020: Committee recommends projects to board (schools are notified of recommendations one week in advance of this meeting)
- Apr. 2020: GOCO Board makes final decisions on grant awards

Before beginning your application, contact Youth Initiatives Program Officer Erika Meyer to discuss your project's eligibility.

At the time of application, GOCO requires that each school has worked with a professional design consultant on a conceptual design for the school yard that is based on a student led process.

The applicant and partner must provide 25% of the total project cost in matching funds.


For further information:

What We Fund:

Apply for a Grant:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Online application portal:

Erika Meyer
Youth Initiatives Program Officer
Phone: 303-226-4512

1900 Grant Street, Suite 725
Denver, CO 80203

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Colorado

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