Building upon nine years of experience in 50 cities, the National League of Cities (NLC) and partners Children & Nature Network (C&NN), and KABOOM! welcomed 19 new sites into the Nature Everywhere Communities initiative in November 2023. Nature Everywhere succeeds the highly successful Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN) initiative, a joint partnership with the Children & Nature Network.
These 19 sites are part of a new national joint initiative by NLC, C&NN and Kaboom! called Nature Everywhere Communities. The initiative aims to increase equitable access to nature everywhere children live, learn and play in 100 communities by 2025. Longstanding systems of inequity create disparities in the design, distribution and programming of green spaces and natural areas. Through Nature Everywhere Communities, NLC will redouble efforts to support city leaders and their partners in dismantling these systems to improve the health and well-being of children through daily connections to nature.
The majority of children live in urban areas, so the policies and programs that city governments and their partners implement play a critically important role in getting kids connected to green spaces and outdoor experiences. This is essential since research shows that regular access to nature and the outdoors improves mental and physical health and academic outcomes for children.
Through CCCN, we’ve seen how far cities can go in expanding equitable access to nature with the proper support and guidance. Because of this, we are excited to welcome these new sites who join the CCCN cities in being leaders across the nation in expanding equitable access to nature for all children.
In the summer of 2023, dozens of sites submitted applications to join the Nature Everywhere initiative. Applicants proposed cross-sector leadership teams and shared local goals for increasing equitable access to nature. NLC and its national partners chose the following community teams for the inaugural cohort:
- Kingston Nature Access and Connection Team, Kingston, New York
- Lowell, Massachusetts
- Get Outdoors Partnership, Groton, Connecticut
- East End, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Prescribe Outside, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Tri-County Play Collaborative, Tri-County, South Carolina
- Thrive Outside Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia
- Thrive Outside Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Florida
- Riverfront Nature Network, Memphis, Tennessee
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Nkwejong/Lansing, Lansing, Michigan
- Madison Region, Wisconsin
- Faribault Region, Minnesota
- Arkansas Valley Visioning Cohort, Rocky Ford, Colorado
- Longmont Nature Network, Longmont, Colorado
- Connecting Children to Nature, Pima County, Arizona
- Nevada Outdoor Education Advisory Working Group, Nevada
- Youth Access to Nature, Sonoma County, California
These 19 teams joined staff from NLC, C&NN and Kaboom! for “vision labs” in Austin, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia. These hands-on peer learning events launched the initiative and introduced community teams to the process they will embark on for the next two years. Teams will receive strategic planning and technical support, including access to a national peer learning network; case-making research; resources, case studies and planning tools; seed grants of up to $40,000; and eventually, access to larger catalytic grants for implementation. Nature Everywhere partners (C&NN, NLC, and KABOOM!) will also help communities track outcomes and communicate the impact of their work both locally and nationally.
These 19 sites are the first of what we hope will be many more. An Action Challenge in the spring/summer of 2024 will provide a self-directed option for additional cities. We look forward to offering cities across the country additional opportunities to become Nature Everywhere Communities and to join in the growing movement of cities across the country that are committed to increasing nature access for all children. We are thrilled to support these efforts