Inspiring youth to reconnect to nature is the focus of a new five-year initiative that Great Outdoors Colorado is launching this month, and a four-minute video announcement sets out the goals of the project while showcasing some of Colorado’s most stunning landscapes and wildlife.

“Children today spend half as much time outdoor as their parents did. Just living in Colorado does not ensure that its young people are able to enjoy its incredible natural treasures, from urban parks to the mountain backcountry,” Lise Aangeenbrug, GOCO executive director, said while announcing the initiative at The Outdoors Summit today in Denver.

The first-of-its-kind “Inspire Initiative” will start with five pilot communities in its first year and focus on providing funding for “places, programs, and pathways” that will give youth and theirfamilies meaningful experiences in the outdoors.  GOCO released the initiative’s request for proposals this week and theinitial planning grants of up to $100,000 will awarded in October. The initiative will eventually invest up to $25 million to implement projects in 15 communities across the state. Grants will range between $1 million and $5 million per pilot community.

GOCO will partner with selected communities to address local barriers that prevent kids from getting outside. Investments will be made in building or enhancing parks, school play yards, and other outdoor destinations as well as in trails needed to get kids safely to these places.  Additional investments will be made in expanded outdoor education and recreation programs for kids of every age. Finally, the initiative seeks to fund more service learning and youth employment opportunities as pathways to careers in the outdoors.

The new initiative was crafted after a year of engaging Coloradans through a listening tour in 13 communities across the state, surveys of the public and stakeholders, and close examination of current trends in population, recreation, and other factors in Colorado.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created by voters in 1992, GOCO has funded more than 4,500 projects in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. The grants are funded by GOCO’s share of Colorado Lottery revenues, which are divided between GOCO, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Conservation Trust Fund and school construction.