Utah Children's Outdoor Recreation and Education Grant Program
In 2016, inspired by Washington’s No Child Left Inside grant program and with approval from the governor’s office, the Office of Outdoor Recreation worked with members of the state legislature to pilot the Utah Children’s Outdoor Recreation and Education (UCORE) Grant Program with an $100,000 allocation from the general fund. Outside support in 2016 came from the national Outdoor Industry Association, in the form of a paid lobbyist to advance the issue, and partnership from non-profit sector allies testifying in committee hearings. In its first year, it had 43 requests for funding, with 16 grants awarded to a range of outdoor programming for youth aged 6-18 including mountain biking, adaptive programming, tribal youth camp, summer camp, winter programming, and community fishing.
An attempt to fund the program in a second year from a hotel room tax met with stiff opposition from hoteliers in the state, and did not meet with success. In 2019, state legislators took bill language drafted by the office of Outdoor Recreation and renewed the grant program with another $100,000 in one-time funding from the general fund, effectively creating another round of the pilot program. Program administrators hope to build on the success of the second round of the program to secure a portion (~$250,000) of the hotel tax in future years to fund the program in continuity.
At present, UCORE grant funds require 50% match, up to half of which can be in-kind and grants up to $10,000 are available. Half of the grant is available upfront, and the remaining half is available as reimbursement after a project has been completed and report submitted. Up to 10% of the grant may be used for salary or operating costs, with the majority earmarked for on-the-ground project needs. Projects with strong components involving partnerships, volunteer opportunities, cultural heritage, and art are prioritized, as are programs serving high-needs youth, high match levels, high numbers of youth served, STEM curriculum, and stewardship learning.