Maine’s first-ever Outdoor Equity Fund is awarding $300,000 to organizations that advance outdoor access, learning, and experiences for Black and Indigenous people, and people of color.

This new grant-making fund was created by the Nature Based Education Consortium (NBEC) and is implemented as a partnership between NBEC and Maine Initiatives. The Outdoor Equity Fund’s inaugural cohort of grantees includes 10 organizations whose work focuses on issues like Indigenous land stewardship, food and storytelling, surf and water access for women, and immigrant health and well-being, according to a Maine Initiatives news release.

While the fund is new, the reasons for its creation are well-documented. Maine is a state known for its outdoor landscapes: breathtaking coastlines and dense forests. But a large majority of people of color in the state live in nature-deprived areas in Maine, according to a report by the Center for American Progress. Meanwhile, only about a quarter of white people in the state live in nature-deprived areas.

The benefits of being in nature are many, including improved physical and mental health outcomes. Likewise, the consequences of nature deprivation are real, and exacerbate existing inequalities formed by generations of systemic racism.

The Outdoor Equity Fund, which has a low-barrier application process, aims to increase opportunities for nature-based learning and improve safe, equitable access to outdoor spaces for Wabanaki people, Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC) in Maine and unceded Wabanaki Territory.

The fund seeks to address a variety of barriers that communities of color face when it comes to accessing the outdoors, and works to strengthen the existing leadership of BIPOC organizations while building relationships and sharing knowledge.


Grounded in community voice and engagement, the fund is rooted in the practices of participatory grantmaking: the simple idea that decisions about funding should be made by the communities served. This community-led approach runs deep, and centers the importance of trust and relationships.

The fund’s 10 grantee organizations will each receive a grant of $30,000 over three years in general operating support. Over the course of those years the cohort will share knowledge, build relationships, and connect with a well-established and well-resourced outdoor learning network, with support from the Nature Based Education Consortium and Maine Initiatives.

The organizations include Bomazeen Land Trust, ECO-BIPOC/Third Place, Intercultural Community Center, Journey ONEderland, Juneteenth Downeast, Maine Association of New Americans, More Women+ Surf, Somali Bantu Community Association, Tender Table, and 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.

Read more about the Outdoor Equity Fund, including the request for proposals, at

The Outdoor Equity Fund is accepting donations to support future cohorts of grantees.

For more information, email Anthony Jackson


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