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2018 School Yard Initiative (SYI)

Grants to Colorado Schools Working With Local Government Agencies
to Revitalize School Playgrounds and Outdoor Learning Spaces

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:



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Grants to Colorado schools that are working together with local government agencies to develop projects that revitalize school playgrounds and outdoor learning environments. Applicants must contact program staff by December 11 to verify eligibility. Funding is intended to support projects that promote increased student involvement in active, physical play and enhance outdoor learning on school grounds.

Funding can be used to develop a new school yard and/or to enhance or improve existing schoolyards. Projects must include spaces for outdoor play and learning. Projects can include natural playscapes, age-specific play equipment, outdoor classrooms, learning gardens, water play features, climbing walls, walking paths, environmental education signage, and shade. These are merely examples; GOCO encourages students and schools to dream big. Projects that include natural components will likely be more competitive. All projects must be constructed on or adjacent to school grounds, and are required to be open to the public during non-school hours.

The most competitive projects will be those that reflect a participatory design process led by the students and supported by the local community. Please note that all projects must be designed, at least in part, by students. In addition, this program emphasizes projects that reach underserved youth and families who may otherwise have limited access to quality parks.

In addition to receiving GOCO funding for infrastructure improvements, elementary schools selected for the 2018 School Play Yard Initiative (SYI) will be eligible to become partner schools in CPW’s Schools and Outdoor Learning Environments (SOLE) program, which provides outdoor experiences and teacher training to help students and families connect with nature on-site, and through 4th grade field trips to nearby natural spaces. All selected schools will be eligible for on-site teacher professional development workshops to help incorporate the outdoor space into the existing curriculum.

Access: The proposed school yard must be open to the general public, daily, when school is not in session. 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.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 140856

Estimated Size of Grant:

Each school is eligible to apply for grants up to $110,000. Up to $10,000 of that funding can be used to complete design documents.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Who Can Apply:

Schools can apply if they partner with an eligible local government, such as a city, county or park and recreation district.

The majority of successful applicants have Free and Reduced Lunch rates above 40% and/or propose projects that help overcome significant barriers to youth and families enjoying the outdoors in their communities.


Sports fields, tracks and other components for organized play are not eligible for SYI funding but can be funded through GOCO's Local Parks and Outdoor Recreation grant program.

What GOCO does not fund:

- Indoor facilities (except environmental facilities and restrooms)
- Non-fixed assets (i.e., lawn mowers, shovels, rakes, etc.)
- Operations & maintenance costs
- Programmatic funding, including environmental education
- Outdoor performing art centers/amphitheater
- Staff time (city, county or district)
- Volunteer time
- Sculptures and artwork
- Administrative costs (photo copies, mileage, food and drinks, grant writing, publications, etc.)
- Work completed prior to grant award (except for design and engineering)

Pre-proposal Conference:

On September 11, 2017 there will be a grant assistance webinar (optional).

Pre-Application Information:

Click on the links in the Supporting Documents section below to download the 2018 School Yard Initiative Application and the Application How-To Guide.

Click here to view the link to the recorded webinar:

How to Apply:

It is strongly recommended that applicants contact the Youth Initiatives Program Coordinator, Erika Meyer, before beginning work on your application to ensure that your project will compete well and to discuss your project's eligibility (see Contact Information section below for details).

Applications are due on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. GOCO has moved to an online application system. To register, click on the link below; to submit an application, use the link included in the current cycle's application form.

School Yard Initiative Grant Cycle Calendar:

September 11, 2017: Grant assistance webinar (optional)
December 11, 2017: Draft applications due to Erika Meyer for review (optional)
January 9, 2018: Applications due via online submission
March 2018: Committee recommends projects to Board (schools are notified of recommendations one week in advance of this meeting)
April 2018: GOCO Board makes final decisions on grant awards

Please note the following:

- 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.

- Match Requirements: The applicant and partner must provide 25% of the total project cost in matching funds. That 25% must include at least 10% in cash while the remaining 15% can be in-kind contributions, cash, or donations.

- GOCO believes there is great value in schools working with a professional design consultant to help with creative and innovative design, to ensure the school site can accommodate that design, and to provide insight into what the project might cost. At the time of application, it is therefore a requirement 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. If a GOCO grant is awarded, up to $10,000 of that award can be used to pay for the remaining costs associated with design. GOCO wants to ensure that at least $100,000 of a grant award is dedicated to components on the ground.

Contact Information:

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

Click here to register to apply online:

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

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Colorado