Colorado Organizations Boosting DEI in the Outdoors

There needs to be more effort into increasing DEI in the outdoors. We realize the outdoor industry lacks diversity, like, a lot. Because of this, our founder set out to create a company that would help eliminate barriers to entry for folks who want to explore new places.

Here are some Colorado-based organizations that are already working to boost diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the outdoors through youths and young adults. Here are some more anti-racism resources too.

Thorne Nature Experience

Boulder and Denver Metro Area, Colorado

Mission: To build Earth stewardship by providing youth with joyful, hands-on, place-based environmental education experiences that foster an emotional connection to nature.

Founded in 1954 by Dr. Oakleigh Thorne, II, Thorne Nature Experience has been connecting youth to nature for more than six decades. What started as a focus on diverse environmental projects to educating governments and businesses about The Principles of Ecology, Thorne has connected more than 275,000 children and adults to nature.

They offer Summer Camps, School Programs, Early Childhood Programs, and Community Programs which helps increase DEI in the outdoors for children.

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Big City Mountaineers

Golden, Colorado

Mission: Big City Mountaineers instills critical life skills in under-resourced youth through transformative wilderness mentoring experiences.

Jim Kern founded Big City Mountaineers in 1990 after realizing that every kid deserves the “chance to explore the wilderness and experience the personal growth that only comes through rugged physical challenge.” Big City Mountaineers now has hubs in San Francisco, Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, Boston, and Miami.

They offer week-long expeditions for under-resourced youth ages 13 to 18, single-day programs, and overnight camps for kids ages 8 to 12. It’s great to see how DEI in the outdoors can start in the city.

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Colorado UpLift

Denver, Colorado

Mission: Building long-term, life-changing relationships with urban youth.

What started as a summer jobs program for urban, underserved youth by Dr. Kent Hutcheson in 1982 grew to teaching character qualities and life skills needed for long-term success. Colorado UpLift has since added several key aspects and programs to their organization such as The Colorado UpLift Guild, that provides a myriad of services to support their work.

Colorado UpLift offers these programs for urban, underserved youth: In School, After School, Adventure, Post Secondary, and Advanced Leadership to increase DEI in the outdoors.

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Colorado Youth Outdoors

Fort Collins, Colorado

Mission: Building relationships through traditional outdoor recreation.

Recognizing the relationship struggle between youths and their parents, Colorado Youth Outdoors was founded in 2001 because they believe that “traditional outdoor recreational activities provide an ideal environment for youth and their parents, or other significant adults, to strengthen their relationship.” They have now expanded to bringing business partners, friends, child/mentor, and the community together.

They offer their core programming (offered in Northern Colorado and Southern Colorado) that helps families “with middle and high school students build and strengthen their relationships while learning lifelong recreation skills.” They also offer summer camps for both boys and girls currently in the 4th through 10th grade.

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Denver, Colorado

Mission: cityWILD cultivates deep connections between youth and the natural world, working with them to develop their full potential and achieve their wildest dreams.

Jere Lester, MSW, Lara Solomon, and Read McCulloch founded cityWILD in 1997 with the goal of bringing the “typically exclusive world of outdoor experiential education to a broad, inclusive audience.” Since then, cityWILD merged with RiverReach Youth and “by combining forces, these two nonprofits now serve more youth, more effectively, and with greater synergy.”

While they do focus on neighborhoods, such as their Cole Neighborhood Program and Westwood Neighborhood Program, they also offer their EPIC Summer Program and Youth Workforce Programs.

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Transforming Youth Outdoors

Mission: Create a movement to engage young people in transformative outdoor experiences by providing best practices, self-paced learning, and support to individuals and organizations working to get youth outdoors.

Founded in 2015, Transforming Youth Outdoors (TYO) is an “online learning community created to scale the impact in outdoor youth development and transform the lives of youth by providing best practices, tools, and support to individuals and organizations working with youth in the outdoors.”

TYO is a platform to connect with a network of organizations and individuals to learn from each other about what works to get youths outdoors. From step-by-step plans that enhance members’ knowledge and skills to individualized support and coaching, TYO set organizations and individuals up for success to get more youth outdoors.

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