Funding advances environmental stewardship among youth and young adults
March 31, 2022 (Gig Harbor, Wash.) – The Russell Family Foundation (TRFF) announced 32 grants totaling $779,550 within its Environmental Education portfolio, increasing access to approximately 119,000 local youth and young adults to outdoor environmental learning opportunities in the Puget Sound region.
Grants awarded to the 32 community organizations provide in-person programming and support for initiatives including summer internship programs, maritime and ecology lessons, sailboat voyages, overnight camps, and more. Additionally, multiple grantees are focused on expanding programming to BIPOC and low-income communities. These organizations serve youth in Pierce, Jefferson, Kitsap, King and Thurston counties.
“Environmental education remains a key focus area for the Foundation to prioritize in its grantmaking,” said TRFF CEO Kathleen Simpson. “We look forward to seeing these young people become stewards of the environment and champion our shared values for a sustainable future.”
The grantees each have varying strategies for supporting and encouraging environmental stewardship.
“We are inspired by the continued efforts of these community organizations to connect youth with the great outdoors,” said Fabiola Greenwalt, TRFF Program Officer. “Each organization has a unique approach and commitment to experiential education.”
Details for each grant are as follows:
Braided Seeds, $12,000
Braided Seeds is a Black-centered nonprofit committed to removing barriers to experiencing the wonders of the Pacific Northwest for the BIPOC community. Funding will support costs associated with its 2022 Reclamation Trips and summer internship program.
Camp Fire Central Puget Sound, $20,000
Camp Fire Central, through their Outdoor Education Program, provides outdoor experiential opportunities for children in the Puget Sound Region. This grant will support staff and seasonal naturalists at Camp Sealth located on Vashon Island, as well as support for schools to bring youth to overnight camp experiences who would otherwise not be able to afford it. Their outdoor education programs develop children’s confidence, academic success, leadership, and social skills.
Camp Solomon Schechter, $7,500
Camp Solomon Schechter offers environmental education in elementary schools across the Pacific Northwest. This grant will support costs associated with its Youth Mentor Training Program that helps prepare high school students to serve as mentors to elementary school students at Camp Solomon, which provides hands-on lessons in ecology, team building, and leadership for Thurston County youth.
The Community Boat Project is a partnership working to build a stronger community by giving youth job and life skills through adult mentorship. This grant will support general operations of its Voyaging/Sailor Scientist, Community Builders, and Shelter from The Storm programs.
Deep Green Wilderness is committed to creating meaningful change in the ecosystem, the community, and the future. This grant supports their general operations and provides full and partial scholarships for youth from King, Pierce, Jefferson, and Kitsap counties to participate in summer voyages aboard its sailboat, the Orion.
Environmental Science Center, $25,000
The Environmental Science Center brings diverse communities together to promote environmental stewardship and academic achievement through science-based education. The grant will support youth experiential education, stewardship, and teen leadership programs in south King County.
Foss Waterway Seaport, $80,000
The mission of the Foss Waterway Seaport is to celebrate Tacoma’s maritime heritage. In addition to their year round programs, this grant will support the Seaport’s increased partnership with the Tacoma School District to implement their Science of the Sea programming that increases students’ understanding of marine and environmental science and how they can coexist with marine environments where they live.
Friends of North Creek Forest, $25,000
Friends of North Creek Forests was founded with the mission to maintain and improve the ecological function of North Creek Forest through education, stewardship, and conservation in perpetuity. The funding will support a variety of operating costs from education intern stipends to equipment for lessons and student-led projects.
Garden Raised Bounty, $20,000
GRuB (Garden-Raised Bounty) is an organization working at the intersection of food, education, and health systems to grow healthy food, people, and communities. The funds will support general operating costs of their GroundED youth program which is a partnership between GRuB and Capital Region Educational Service District 113 that engaged diverse youth in Thurston County.
Great Peninsula Conservancy, $30,000
Great Peninsula Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to protecting the natural habitats, rural landscapes, and open spaces of the Great Peninsula region of the West Puget Sound. The grant will support efforts at its Land Lab sites, which engage Kitsap County middle school students through environmental science projects.
IslandWood is an environmental education nonprofit working to advance innovative education that offers a variety of immersive programs throughout the Puget Sound region. Funds will support youth environmental programs ranging from summer day camps to school overnight programs.
Northwest Natural Resource Group, $12,500
Northwest Natural Resources Group works with landowners to improve the health of forests across western Washington and Oregon to promote the practice of “ecological forestry.” The grant will support their partnership with the Highline School District’s Camp Waskowitz outdoor education camp for youth to experience environmental education away from urban centers.
Northwest Youth Corps, $20,500
Northwest Youth Corps’ mission is to provide opportunities for youth and young adults to learn, grow and succeed. Funding will support its upcoming Sound to Summit (S2S) program and their partnership with Tacoma Public School District and Metro Parks, for Tacoma-area teen and adult leaders to become environmental stewards in in the South Puget Sound.
Pacific Education Institute, $33,120
For almost two decades, the Pacific Education Institute has been equitably advancing civil and scientific literacy and deepening student engagement through real-world science outdoors. Funding will provide stipends for students participating in the Youth Engaged Sustainability Systems (YESS!) courses focused on green economy workforce skills. This is a partnership with the Highline School District and Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust.
Port Townsend Marine Science Center, $25,000
The Port Townsend Marine Science Center aims to inspire conservation of the Salish Sea by providing programs for youth to participate in first-hand experiences in the marine environment. The grant will support outdoor programs and activities for students in Jefferson and Kitsap counties.
Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, $25,000
The Puget Soundkeeper Alliance was the first and is still the only organization entirely focused on stopping water pollution sources throughout the Puget Sound basin. Funding will support the partnership between Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and Unleash the Brilliance (UTB), a youth-mentorship organization, to create a paid summer internship program for UTB’s Youth Leaders to use Springbrook Creek as an outdoor learning classroom.
Sea Potential, $20,000
Sea Potential is on a mission to cultivate a full cycle of BIPOC representation in the maritime industry. Funding will foster youth appreciation and connection to the marine ecosystem through healing activities and ocean justice conversations for youth from Pierce County and South King County.
SHADOW Lake Nature Preserve, located in South King County, acquires and restores critical lands to permanently protect and steward dwindling wildlife habitat. Funding will be allocated to environmental education programs that engage youth in opportunities at the Nature Preserve.
South Sound Estuary Association, $12,230
The South Sound Estuary Association was founded by the Puget Sound Estuarium due to community interest in creating opportunities for the public to learn more about the Puget Sound. Funding will support educational field trips for youth from Thurston and Pierce counties and cover a variety of estuary and marine topics.
Summer Search, $30,000
Summer search Seattle is one of five sites across the country focused on supporting young people to thrive and become financially stable adults with a strong sense of purpose in the world. Funding will support their Experiential Outdoor Summer program in the Olympic or North Cascade National Parks.
Trout Unlimited, $22,000
Trout Unlimited brings together diverse interests to care for and recover rivers and streams so that children can experience the joy of wild and native trout and salmon. Funds will support two staff positions coordinating the Lake Sammamish STREAM Connections program, which engages diverse cultural and economic demographics.
The UW Botanic Gardens engages children and families in environmental issues and the natural world through a variety of experiential learning opportunities. This grant will support internship stipends for high school students and fund an internship coordinator position for the Inclusive Pathways for Environmental Leadership Program.
Mount Rainier Institute is an outdoor school program for students in the fifth through 12th grades, specifically working with unserved communities in the greater Puget Sound and Mount Rainier region. Funding will support general operations for their overnight and day programs serving participants from traditional school groups, families, and homeschool groups.
Vashon Nature Center, $22,500
Vashon Nature Center’s mission is to create transformative nature experiences that benefit their island and the Salish Sea region through community science, education, and research. The funding will support Vashon Nature Center’s staff and program expenses to deliver programs to students from Vashon Island and beyond.
The Washington Outdoor School Consortium is a coalition of Washington outdoor school providers who aim to reduce barriers so that all students have access to high-quality programs. Funding will support a range of coalition activities such as convening summits and providing and maintaining technology infrastructure for contact management
Washington Trails Association, $25,000
Washington Trails Association (WTA) mobilizes hikers and everyone who loves the outdoors to explore, steward, and champion trails and public lands. This funding will support WTA’s Outdoor Leadership Training program in Pierce County/South Puget Sound region by empowering teachers and youth group leaders with the skills and resources needed to lead youth in safe and fun outdoor experiences.
WaYa Outdoor Institute, $25,000
Wa-Ya Outdoor Institute is a Native women-led organization providing youth outdoor skills, environmental science, and Tribal knowledge to establish and retain a connection to the natural world. Funding will support training costs and stipends for youth interns during summer programming and cover additional expenses such as supplies.
Western Washington University Foundation (SEA Discovery Center), $25,000
The SEA Discovery Center has a long history as an educational resource built by the community to serve the community. These funds will allow staff to deliver programs for students in fifth and sixth grades in Kitsap County public and tribal schools.
Wild Society, $25,000
Wild Society is a non‐profit organization based in Kitsap County working to cultivate wonder and belonging in the natural world. Funding will support general operations for the organization to provide programs for outdoor experiences.
World Relief Seattle, $25,000
As Washington’s largest refugee resettlement and service organization, World Relief Seattle works with refugees and immigrants. Funding will support activities including paid youth internships that provide refugee youth to combine sustainability training with place-based environmental service-learning at a community garden.
The YMCA’s vision focuses on individual and community resiliency. Funding support will make it possible for YMCA’s Earth Service Corps (YESC) to provide programming for 1,000 youth to take a hands‐on role in creating a healthier environment in their schools and communities while nurturing a respect for diversity within the natural world.
The YMCA has a long and storied history of serving the people and communities encompassing Pierce and Kitsap counties. This funding will support general operations of the Outdoor Environmental Education program that will serve approximately 5,000 youth from Kitsap, Pierce, King and Thurston Counties.
For more information on The Russell Family Foundation and its Environmental Education Program, visit www.trff.org/environmental-education/.
About The Russell Family Foundation
Founded by George and Jane Russell, The Russell Family Foundation (TRFF) provides a way for their extended family to make a quiet, positive impact in the community. TRFF does so by funding local, regional and global change through community investment in causes including resources for grassroots leaders, environmental sustainability and global peace. The organization applies their values of integrity, mutual trust, constructive communication, life-long learning and courage to all their work. With a place-based focus in the Puget Sound region, TRFF places particular emphasis on Pierce County, WA. For more information visit www.trff.org.