Colorado State Outdoor Recreation Grant

As of April 1, 2023, this program is no longer accepting applications for funding. Please visit the Outdoor Recreation Industry Office homepage to sign up for our newsletter and to learn more about our other programs. 

Grant Summary

Administered by the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (OREC), the Colorado State Outdoor Recreation Grant program was made possible through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) as a part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

OREC received millions of dollars in requests from 39 counties for competitive funding for projects related to economic development and recovery in the outdoor recreation sector. Eligible entities included government bodies, nonprofits, colleges/universities, economic development organizations, and Indian Tribes. Since the program’s launch on June 1, 2022, a total of $3,764,207 has been awarded to 50 projects across Colorado. A list of grant recipients can be found below. 


Type: Technical assistance and grant

For: cities and other political subdivisions of the State; nonprofits; colleges/universities; economic development district organizations; Indian Tribes

Amount: Varies

Application deadline: Closed

OEDIT division: Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office

Adaptive Adventures - Westminster, Colorado - $57,588
Funding will support the Access Adventure program, a program designed to get Coloradans with physical disabilities into the great outdoors and specifically, state and national parks. Program experiences include hiking, climbing, and paddle sports throughout the state. This grant will allow Adaptive Adventures to hire seasonal and part-time team members, including Certified Therapeutic Recreation program staff, that will significantly expand programming opportunities and the experience provided to children, adults, and veterans with physical disabilities and their families.

American Institute for Avalanche Research & Education - Telluride, Colorado - $90,000
The American Institute for Avalanche Research & Education (AIARE) will use these funds to support four instructor training courses in and near Ouray, Steamboat Springs, and Leadville, Colorado during the 2022-23 winter season. The grant will cover instructor and administrative expenses and support training for 60 avalanche educators that will, in turn, benefit clients across the outdoor recreation economy in Colorado and beyond. AIARE partners with 31 employers in Colorado for an expected economic impact of $1.8 million in course revenue as a result of instructor trainings over the next two years.

Aspen International Mountain Foundation - Aspen, Colorado - $25,000
These funds support marketing efforts for the 6th Global Meeting of the United Nations Mountain Partnership held in Aspen, CO. These efforts focus on an outdoor industry side-event that showcases Colorado companies, NGOs, and partners supporting the outdoor recreation economy and workforce.

Colorado Outward Bound School - Denver, Colorado - $100,000
Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS) will put this grant toward workforce development and payroll expenses. Half of the funds will be directed toward the Staffing Manager and Community Engagement Coordinator to enhance recruitment and retention throughout the organization. The remaining half will support the Emerging Leaders Fellowship to create pathways into the outdoor industry for people with historically marginalized identities.

Girl Scouts of Colorado - Denver, Colorado - $100,000
The “Creating Outdoor Opportunities for Colorado Girls” program creates excitement about outdoor recreation through camps and by linking girls to education and career opportunities. Through this program, girls learn program development and delivery, group management, risk management, and facilitation skills. They also gain hands-on, real-world practice by shadowing full-time camp instructors and eventually leading programs under the supervision of paid camp staff. This prepares participants for jobs as camp instructors and provides transferable skills that could be used for other outdoor recreation career opportunities.

The Live by Living Foundation - Lakewood, Colorado - $47,000
By funding a Program/Volunteer Manager position, this grant will help the Live by Living Foundation develop the Cancer to 14K program, a ten-week conditioning program for cancer survivors and caregivers across three tracks of progressing difficulty. This staff person will focus on developing partnerships with cancer treatment centers and fitness centers, as well as the recruitment and training of hike leaders to execute the program.

Mesa County Public Health - Grand Junction, Colorado - $74,666
Mesa County Public Health will develop a master plan for the Gunnison Bluffs and Old Spanish Trail area south of Grand Junction. Mesa County is the primary landowner in the proposed project area, with additional segments owned by the BLM and private landowners. The current trail system was primarily created through social ridership, rather than sustainable trail planning and design. The master plan will address navigation and safety concerns along with trail deterioration.

Montezuma County - Cortez, Colorado/Montezuma County - $98,759
Montezuma County is partnering with local municipalities, Dolores County, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Mesa Verde National Park, and other stakeholders to further explore the long-term economic impact of outdoor recreation in the region. Grant funding will cover full expenses and fringe costs of completing an OREC and Cultural Heritage Asset Use Study, an Economic Impact Study, and a Strategic Implementation Plan.

San Luis Valley Great Outdoors - Alamosa, Colorado - $100,000
This grant will fund the development of a master plan for the Heart of the Valley Trail. The trail is a collaborative effort between San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLV GO), private landowners, and local governments to develop a 154-mile trail that would span the width of the San Luis Valley. $57,500 of this funding will support personnel costs with the remaining funding going towards a preliminary environmental review, trail assessments, legal counsel, and administrative expenses.

Rocky Mountain Field Institute - Colorado Springs, Colorado - $75,000
Funding to support workforce development and job creation; employee recruitment, pay, and retention; stewardship capacity; and staff training opportunities for Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI) seasonal stewardship crews and project management professionals. An estimated 32 staff positions will benefit from this funding each year between January 2023 and December 2025.

City of Fruita - Fruita, Colorado - $36,000 

For the development of the Grand Valley Gravel Adventure Field Guide. The City of Fruita is partnering with the City of Palisade to market the Grand Valley as an outdoor recreation destination for gravel biking enthusiasts. The Adventure Field Guide series has been successfully deployed in multiple Colorado communities, and this edition will highlight gravel biking trails in Mesa County along with local history, attractions, and cultural heritage elements. The grant will cover research, editorial, design, illustration, printing, and local distribution. 

Clear Creek County - Clear Creek County, Colorado - $97,500

This grant supports workforce development in the outdoor industry by helping 75 students in Clear Creek School District achieve certifications in wilderness first aid, avalanche safety, and swiftwater rescue. The goal of the program is to provide students with a well-rounded foundation from which they can enter careers in the outdoor recreation industry. Project expenses will include certification course costs for 25 students a year in Wilderness First Aid (WFA), American Institute for Avalanche Research & Education (AIARE), and Swiftwater Rescue Technician (SWRT) between 2023 and 2025.

Colorado Youth Outdoors - Fort Collins, Colorado - $70,400

Colorado Youth Outdoors (CYO) provides outdoor education to youth in Northern Colorado on their 220-acre campus. Combined with support from corporate partners, this grant funding will benefit up to 65 full- and part-time staff members, including hiring 15 new staff members by December 31, 2025. Project components include curriculum updates for outdoor education programming, day program updates, summer camp curriculum updates, staff training expenses, and job promotion and marketing. 

ElevateHer - Chaffee County, Colorado - $75,000

This project provides career pathways for women in rural Colorado to enter the outdoor recreation industry. Specifically, elevateHER will employ 42 staff members and interns over the next three years, including two full-time staff per year, providing direct industry career pathways as well as indirect industry impacts through programming designed to introduce young women to the outdoors. Project expenses will include wages, recruitment costs, programming costs, and educational materials.

Environmental Learning for Kids - Denver, Colorado - $68,000

Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) provides outdoor and environmental education for youth of color in the Denver Metropolitan Area. This funding will support consulting and the development of a new, three-year organizational strategic plan and branding guide, along with wages for four full-time staff members. ELK has a 26-year track record of providing access to the outdoors and career pathways for underserved youth in the Denver area.

First Descents - Denver, Colorado - $50,000

To support outdoor adventure programming for young adults impacted by cancer and MS. First Descents plans to offer 10 week-long programs for 125 participants in 2023, which will invest over $374,000 into three rural Colorado communities through contracted guide services. Project expenses will include lodging, guide services, staffing, meals, travel, marketing, and medical supplies for three week-long adventure programs to occur in Buena Vista, Estes Park, and Crested Butte in Summer 2023.

Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV) - Carbondale, Colorado - $53,895

RFOV provides outdoor stewardship programming for Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley through trail building and maintenance. RFOV works with local governments and federal land managers to maintain and care for trails in one of the most trafficked areas for outdoor recreation in the nation. Project expenses will support wages and professional development for a growing field staff, along with equipment and tools to support the organization’s work. 

SOS Outreach - Eagle County, Colorado -  $45,000

This funding will support SOS Outreach Career Development Pipeline programming, which will provide 15 young people with leadership training and professional development workshops in the outdoor recreation industry across seven weeks in Summer 2023. Participants will start with a two-week leadership and job skills intensive followed by a five-week apprenticeship with private partners such as Vail Resorts, Smartwool, and Christy Sports, among others. Cohort participants have traditionally been low-income and ethnic minority youth.

The Nature Connection - Delta County, Colorado - $45,000

The Nature Connection provides outdoor adventures and certifications for youth in Delta County with the intent of offering exposure to careers in the outdoor recreation industry. The grant will fund The Nature Connection internship positions for students who will help facilitate summer camps and school programming that offer outdoor recreation opportunities in Delta County. Local businesses will also partner with the organization to provide outdoor skills training and certifications.

Becket Academy, dba New Treks -  Denver, Colorado - $50,000
To provide environmental education to Title 1 schools in the Denver area. Funding for New Treks will further advance their vision of making the outdoors more accessible, diverse, and equitable. Specifically, funding will support staff wages, permitting, and equipment to operate courses in parks and other public lands. New Treks is a nonprofit organization currently partnering with eight Title 1 schools in Denver, Arapahoe, and Jefferson Counties to provide outdoor and environmental education to youth who lack access to the outdoors through rock climbing, backpacking, paddling, and other activities. Grant deliverables include 250 students reached through programming and the creation of a new mentorship program on or before June 30, 2024. 

Bicycle Colorado - Denver, Colorado - $35,000
To develop a statewide bike event marketing plan. Bicycle Colorado is the single source of information on all things related to organized competitive and non-competitive bike events in Colorado. Completion of a marketing plan will bolster Colorado’s brand as a premier destination for bike events while increasing the economic impact of these events on their host communities. Specifically, grant funds will be used to secure contractors who will perform data collection, strategic planning, and website design. Program deliverables include the completion of data collection on bike races, completion of a marketing and communications plan, and the launch of a new events website. 

City of Craig - Craig, Colorado - $100,000
To hire a full-time Recreation & Events Coordinator. This position will be responsible for event planning as well as marketing for outdoor recreation assets in and around Craig. Craig is a coal transition community that is prioritizing outdoor recreation and tourism as a basis of future economic development. Last year, the EDA provided $3.3 million to the city through its Assistance to Coal Communities grant in order to support the build out of a whitewater park along the Yampa River. Additionally, increased outdoor recreation opportunities have appeared around Craig in recent years, positioning the community for significant future growth in the industry. A Recreation & Events Coordinator will assist with this transition. The primary deliverable of this grant is a full-time Recreation & Events Coordinator to be hired by November 30, 2023.  

Epic Experience - Arvada, Colorado - $54,700
To support 2024 summer camp programs. Epic Experience empowers cancer patients and survivors through free week-long outdoor adventures throughout Colorado. The organization has served over 350 cancer survivors and provided economic impact in Colorado through its work with local outfitters and fees related to license requirements. Specifically, funding will support personnel expenses as well as contractor expenses for outdoor activities for camp participants. The primary deliverable of this grant is the completion of seven summer camps no later than September 30, 2024. 

ICELab - Gunnison, Colorado - $12,000
To support the second Outdoor Innovation Funding Summit, which will bring together industry founders along with investors for three days in Crested Butte. Specifically, funding will support meeting space expenses, summit activities, and travel expenses. ICELab is a multi-purpose business incubator, accelerator, and coworking space located on the campus of Western Colorado University in Gunnison. Their partnership with the Moosejaw Outdoor Industry Accelerator has positioned Gunnison as a hotbed of outdoor industry entrepreneurship, with participating companies often choosing to stay in or relocate to Western Colorado for their headquarters. Grant deliverables include the successful execution of the Outdoor Innovation Funding Summit in August 2023.  

La Plata Open Space Conservancy - Durango, Colorado -  $43,372
To expand an internship program in partnership with Fort Lewis College. Specifically, funding will support 14 interns, a GIS Program Coordinator, and GIS-related equipment and software. La Plata Open Space Conservancy is partnering with students in the GIS certificate program at Fort Lewis College to offer paid internship opportunities which will provide job experience in conservation work around Southwest Colorado. Program deliverables include the completion of 14, 50-hour internships for Fort Lewis College students with La Plata Open Space Conservancy on or before March 31, 2025. 

Montrose West Recreation - Naturita, Colorado - $21,300
To support marketing efforts related to outdoor recreation in western Montrose and San Miguel counties, also known as The West End. Expenses include contractual services for web design, map design and layout, social media content creation, map printing, and project coordination. In partnership with the West End Trails Alliance (WETA), Montrose West Recreation is working with community leaders and economic development partners to position outdoor recreation and tourism as a key industry in the growth of the West End. As a coal transition community diversifying its economy, this project enjoys broad community support and positions the West End even further as a premier recreation destination in Southwest Colorado. The deliverables for this grant include a full website redesign, enhanced social media content generation, and new regional trail maps to be printed and distributed on or before December 31, 2023. 

Outdoor Lab Foundation - Wheat Ridge, Colorado - $75,000
To support the Career Pathways Program, which provides high school students with internships to lead outdoor education programming for sixth-grade students throughout Jefferson County Public Schools. This funding will support the administrative expenses involved in placing 40 high school students in internship positions and 1,000 more in High School Leader (HSL) positions to facilitate these classroom experiences. Project components and expenses include $1,000 stipends for interns, wages for full-time staff, and supplies needed for programming. Project deliverables include the completion of Career Pathways programming and stipend awards in the 2023-2024 school year.

Ridgway Chamber of Commerce - Ridgway, Colorado - $34,500
To develop a Gravel Adventure Field Guide for the Uncompahgre Plateau and West San Juans area. The Gravel Adventure Field Guide series has been successfully deployed in multiple Colorado
communities, and includes local history, attractions, and cultural heritage elements alongside its gravel trail summaries. This guide will spotlight trails in Ouray, San Miguel, and Montrose Counties, including the West End. Grant deliverables include the planning, design, publication, and distribution of a Gravel Adventure Guide on or before March 31, 2024. 

The Wright - Denver, Colorado - $98,956
To support operational capacity related to The Wright Collegiate Challenge (WCC). Each year, The Wright connects higher-ed students preparing to enter the outdoor recreation industry with Colorado-based businesses that need a particular problem solved. Through four years, the WCC has engaged over 150 students, four higher-ed institutions, 23 employers, and a wide array of resource partners, including Grand Junction Economic Partnership, Routt County Economic Partnership, Outdoor Industry Association, Camber Outdoors, and the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office. Specifically, grant funds will be used for salaried personnel; travel expenses; a contracted communications manager; and various operating expenses. The primary grant deliverable is the hiring of a full-time Program Manager by December 31, 2023. 

University of Colorado-Denver - Denver, Colorado - $200,000
For the buildout of an engineering lab on campus which will serve as a testing space for outdoor equipment for private manufacturers. Specifically, funding will allow for the purchase of major equipment pieces to be installed in an existing engineering space on campus. The University of Colorado-Denver School of Engineering is partnering with Outside Media to build a gear testing lab which will be accessible on a variable price scale to outdoor recreation manufacturers who otherwise may not have access to equipment that can be tested for durability and weather resistance. The primary grant deliverable is the purchase and installation of testing equipment on or before December 31, 2023. 

Valley First - Colorado City, Colorado – $100,000
To support the installation of a 77,000-square-foot synthetic turf athletic field at Greenhorn Valley Community Park in Colorado City by September 30, 2024. Valley First is a community organization based in rural Colorado which is raising funds for much needed improvements around the communities of Colorado City and Rye. This project was left unfinished in 2007 and has led to safety concerns as well as a cancellation of community programs due to inadequate facilities in the community. It is expected that this project will drive significant economic impact for an underserved part of Southern Colorado. 

Big City Mountaineers (BCM) -  Arvada, Colorado - $60,000

To support the Leaders program, which will provide continued leadership development for alumni of BCM’s youth programming. Funding will support staff wages, operating expenses, and contractual services which will enhance training services within BCM.

City of Pueblo - Pueblo, Colorado - $100,000

To develop a municipal Office of Outdoor Recreation. This will be the second of its kind in Colorado and among the first municipal outdoor recreation offices nationwide. The Pueblo Office of Outdoor Recreation will provide a central point of contact, advocacy, and resources for the many area businesses and individuals that rely on the continued health of the outdoor economy.

Colorado Mountain College - Glenwood Springs, Colorado - $78,000

To support the development of a Ski Industry Trade Certifications program. Funding will support wages for a Curriculum Coordinator, along with associated travel and indirect expenses.

Colorado Museum of Natural History (d.b.a Denver Museum of Nature and Science) - Denver, Colorado - $100,000

To develop four pilot episodes of a television series highlighting outdoor recreation opportunities in under-visited parts of Colorado. Funding will support production and equipment expenses related to the proposed television series.

Colorado State University - Fort Collins, Colorado - $70,000

To support the development of a Sustainable Outdoor Product Design certificate program and complete a Digital Asset Mapping project. Funding will support personnel wages, operating expenses, and indirect costs for both projects. The Sustainable Outdoor Product Design certificate will be the third of its kind in the U.S. and the first in Colorado. Additionally, Digital Asset Mapping of Colorado’s outdoor recreation businesses and resources will serve as the bedrock of outdoor recreation community economic development initiatives statewide.

Gold Belt Tour Scenic & Historic Byway Association - Guffey, Colorado -  $60,000

To support the development of TravelStorys digital apps for Colorado Scenic Byways. Funding will support personnel and contractual expenses for the development of digital marketing materials through TravelStorys. The Gold Belt Tour Scenic & Historic Byway Association is working with partners around the state to bring this platform to scenic drives throughout Colorado.

Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation - Denver, Colorado - $100,000

To support the development of the OutdoorCO Lifestyle Vertical, a statewide outdoor recreation industry business alliance to promote the industry and attract new businesses to Colorado. Funding will support operating and contractual expenses related to business recruitment and marketing for Colorado outdoor recreation industry partners.

Middle Colorado Watershed Council - Rifle, Colorado - $20,012.55

To support outreach efforts to users of the Colorado River. A River Running Guide to the Middle Colorado River was published in 2021 to mitigate adverse impacts of recreation through education and provide guidance on safe and accessible information for users. Funds will be used to print additional copies of the guide and support the activation of the River Stop educational center.

Ouray Ice Park - Ouray, Colorado - $200,000

To support operational expenses related to the Our Water, Our Future campaign. This project will diversify the ice park’s water source and decrease pressure on the local community to regulate water usage.

Overland Mountain Bike Association (OMBA) - Fort Collins, Colorado - $82,166

To hire two positions in support of mountain biking opportunities and events in Northern Colorado. Funding will support wages for the Executive Director, as well as a Membership & Outreach Coordinator and Trails Program Director. OMBA will expand operations to include additional trail services as well as enhanced outreach and marketing for regional biking events, which provide direct economic benefits to communities through tourism impacts.

Routt County Economic Development Partnership - Steamboat Springs, Colorado - $65,740

To help increase capacity for the Yampa Valley Outdoor Recreation Coalition (YVORC). Funding will support existing staff salaries to launch and manage a business retention and expansion (BRE) program focused on outdoor recreation industry recovery and growth in Routt County.

Vail Valley Foundation - Avon, Colorado - $45,000

To support operations for the 2024 GoPro Mountain Games. Funding will support marketing and contractual expenses related to operation of the event in June 2024.

Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance - Avon, Colorado - $40,000

To support the Soul Dirt program to engage local businesses in OutdoorsRx principles. OutdoorsRx was published by the OREC office in 2018 to promote public health through outdoor recreation, and the Soul Dirt program implements these through partnerships with businesses in the Vail Valley to encourage corporate wellness programs and employee incentives for outdoor recreation.

Vail Valley Partnership - Eagle, Colorado - $20,000

To support the Future Forward Outdoor Industry Strategy Summit. Funding will support staff wages and operating expenses related to the summit occurring in 2024.

Western Colorado University - Gunnison, Colorado - $100,000

To support the buildout of an outdoor industry lab. Funding will support the purchase of lab equipment and supplies. This project will be the next step in making rural Colorado a hub for entrepreneurship and workforce development for years to come.

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