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Minnesota spending $900,000 to encourage kids to go outside

(The Center Square) – Minnesota is distributing the second half of $900,000 from its general fund and an account of the Game and Fish Fund to encourage children to experience outdoor recreational activities, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday.

The 2021 Minnesota Legislature appropriated the funding from the state’s General Fund and the Heritage Enhancement Account of the Game and Fish Fund to continue the work of the No Child Left Inside grants program. The 2019 Minnesota Legislature funded the grants and legislators in 2021 added more funding, the DNR said.

The first half of the funds was awarded to 44 mini grants and 16 larger grants earlier this year.

Mini grants in this round are up to $5,000 while larger grants are $5,000 to $25,000. Mini grant awards are chosen by lottery. Larger grant awards are selected through competitive review. The request for proposals will be available on the DNR’s website. Funding can support outdoor recreation equipment, transportation and natural resource education.

Grants of $25,000 have gone to organizations including Urban Roots in St. Paul, Three Rivers Park District, which includes Brooklyn Park; and Mankato Area Public Schools, in Mankato, the DNR website said.

Applications are due at 2 p.m. Dec. 7 for the remainder of the funding. Public entities and nonprofit organizations serving children can apply for the grants.

The grants coincide with the vision of the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet’s Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, for each Minnesota child to experience outdoor recreational activities and discover the natural environment regardless of where they live, learn, or play.

“This successful outreach grant program continues to send resources to schools and organizations to help get children outdoors,” DNR Education and Skills Team Supervisor Jeff Ledermann said in the news release. “These grants help boost outdoor programs and initiatives all around the state and especially in communities with limited opportunities to connect with nature.”

The DNR will have an informational webinar at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 1 to review the grant requirements and application process. Registration is required. The webinar will later be posted on the website.

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