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Outdoor Equity Fund

Expanding Outdoor Access

We are promoting safer, more equitable access to the outdoors and increased opportunities for nature-based learning in Maine, unceded Wabanaki Territory.

Through this fund, 10+ BIPOC groups receive $10,000 per year for three years.

Redirecting Resources

The fund uses a low-barrier application process to distribute unrestricted and multi-year funding. It shares access to an established outdoor learning network with organizational resources.

Photos by Micheli Oliver

Centering Community Voices

Wabanaki, Black, Indigenous, and other leaders of color in Maine help develop & design the fund and make decisions.

Relationships & Learning

The Outdoor Equity Fund provides space for BIPOC groups to share knowledge and build relationships with each other and with the broader community

Outdoor Equity Fund Now Accepting Applications

The Outdoor Equity Fund is now accepting applications for its 2024 cohort. Co-developed by Maine Initiatives and the Nature Based Education Consortium, the fund aims to strengthen the sector of groups advancing safe, equitable access to outdoor spaces and increased opportunities for nature-based learning for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities in Maine, unceded Wabanaki Territory.  


The Outdoor Equity Fund (OEF) is a participatory grantmaking program that provides 3 years of general operating support to 10 community-based nonprofit groups annually who focus on the following: 


  • Addressing barriers that exist for communities that need and want to access outdoor spaces.

  • Advancing nature-based learning and strengthening relationships with the outdoors in an inclusive way.

  • Strengthening connection and collaboration among people, groups, funders, and others working in this realm to create synergy and uplift all.

  • Educating the greater community about what groups are doing and issues regarding outdoor access and communal outdoor activities. 

The Outdoor Equity Fund is accepting applications from eligible organizations until April 26th, 2024. Funding decisions will be announced in July 2024. 


Interested applicants are encouraged to download and read the Funding Opportunity Announcement, with full application instructions and eligibility criteria, before beginning their application. You can also register for an informational session on April 3 at 11am-12pm, to speak to Outdoor Equity Fund staff about any questions you have about applying.


The fund is also accepting additional donations.

The first Outdoor Equity Fund grantees

We are overjoyed to announce our first-ever cohort of Outdoor Equity Fund grantees!


Bomazeen Land Trust

Bomazeen Land Trust enables the Abenaki/ Wabanaki people to renew caretaking and stewardship roles in lands and waters that have spiritual, cultural, or historical significance to the Abenaki/ Wabanaki people. Learn more.


ECO-BIPOC/The Third Place

The Third Place organizes community and cross-sector networks to build social and professional connections for Black Mainers. Learn more here.


Intercultural Community Center
The Intercultural Community Center (ICC) supports and improves the lives of immigrants and refugees by providing educational, health, social opportunities and resources. Learn more.


Journey ONEderland
Journey ONEderland works to liberate Afro-Indigenous people in Maine and beyond by strengthening relationships between people and the earth through healing retreats, art, science, and outdoor recreation. 


Juneteenth Downeast
Juneteenth Downeast exists to give people of the African diaspora a place to connect, and opportunities to replenish that which was taken away, whether through connection to the land, the water, to resources, or to each other. Learn more.


Maine Association for New Americans (MANA)

MANA is an immigrant-led organization that promotes social and personal empowerment of immigrants through: Raising awareness of individual and collective trauma and how they affect our lives; Expanding people’s resilience building strategies by exploring various resources; Providing trauma-aware, multilingual transportation services to address social determinants of health; Connecting people with their peers across cultures. 


More Women+ Surf
More Women+ Surf is a women-led surf organization in Maine breaking down socio-economical, physical, and emotional barriers to create surf and water access for underserved individuals. Learn more.


Somali Bantu Community Association
Somali Bantu Community Association's mission is to provide vital transitional services, advocacy, and food production that empowers members of the refugee community to uphold cultural identity and economic well-being to thrive in their new life here in Maine. Learn more.


Tender Table

Tender Table celebrates Black and Brown community in Maine by connecting and honoring identities, traditions, joy, resilience, and fight for collective liberation through storytelling and food.  Learn more.


Wabanaki Youth in Science

Wabanaki Youth in Science’s mission is to inspire and support persistence in the sciences for Native youth by providing long-term education opportunities that integrate Indigenous ecological knowledge with western science. 

Why an Outdoor Equity Fund?


It is the goal of the Outdoor Equity Fund to improve safe, equitable access to outdoor spaces and increase opportunities for nature-based learning in Wabanaki Territory, (now known as the region of Maine) for everyone, centering Wabanaki people, Black folk, Indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC).


Maine Initiatives and the Nature Based Education Consortium have partnered to co-create this Outdoor Equity Fund that will make grants to organizations, through a process of participatory grantmaking.

Barriers to outdoor access this Fund seeks to address:
  • Generational wealth and land access disparities

  • Nature-deprived living spaces in BIPOC communities

  • Costs of outdoor gear, clothing, transportation, passes, etc

  • Lack of opportunity for communities to lead themselves

  • Disconnection and displacement from land and traditional nature-based practices

Examples of work this Fund seeks to support:
  • Leadership development and mentoring

  • Farming and gardening programs

  • Outdoor expeditions

  • Hunting/fishing trips

  • Outdoor learning or environmental education school-based experiences

  • Therapeutic and trauma-informed nature programs

  • Land-based cultural continuation & preservation

  • Land-back and land return projects


We prioritize process

What is participatory grantmaking?

"Participatory grantmaking cedes decision-making power about funding— including the strategy and criteria behind those decisions—to the very communities that funders aim to serve."

-from Deciding Together: Shifting Power and Resources Through Participatory Grantmaking

Aspects of our participatory grantmaking process:
  • Underrepresented community members making decisions

  • Peer learning and relationship building

  • Creating and sharing organizational resources, partnerships, leadership and professional development opportunities

  • Building community, organizational, and sector capacity

The Nature Based Education Consortium (NBEC) is a diverse, multi-sector network of organizations and individuals focused on building support for equitable access to outdoor spaces and learning opportunities for all Maine youth. NBEC believes that all Maine youth deserve the opportunity to learn in ways that connect them to their community and the natural world.

To learn more, visit

Maine Initiatives is a participatory grantmaking organization. It is a network of individuals supporting greater social, economic, and environmental justice in Maine through informed, intentional, and collective philanthropy. Maine Initiatives’ community-based approach to philanthropy explicitly honors the voice, vision, and values that each person can contribute in the pursuit of justice and equity.

To learn more, visit

Learn more and donate at Maine Initiatives

For inquiries about the Outdoor Equity Fund, and to get involved, contact

Climate change affects everyone, and has unbalanced impacts across race and class. The Climate Education Advocacy working group is invested in these questions of climate justice in working for state-level policy changes.

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