Madison Connecting Children to Nature

Hear an interview about this initiative on Wisconsin Public Radio
Segment aired March 4, 2016

The City of Madison, along with six other U.S. cities, was selected to participate in a “groundbreaking” initiative, Cities Connect Children to Nature.  Sponsored by the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families (IYEF) and the Children & Nature Network, the initiative seeks to give every child the chance to meaningfully connect to nature.                                                                                 I would like to get involved!

Muir Elementary’s hard-working students got a boost from volunteers at CUNA Mutual during their 2013 garden build. The initiative was supported by the Madison Community Foundation Madison Metropolitan School District.

As a partnership between Public Health Madison and Dane County, City of Madison Parks and multiple community partners, the initiative recognizes a growing body of scientific research that points toward the powerful benefits that even small amounts of time spent in natural settings can offer. Recent research also suggests communities reporting more nature contact also report more social connectedness and less violence.

Other cities selected include Austin, TX; Providence, RI; San Francisco, CA; St. Paul, MN; Louisville, KY; and Grand Rapids, MI.

The planning grant will facilitate a focus on increasing equitable access to nature and engaging youth leaders, emphasizing work with organizations serving youth and families of color. Partners will build a plan to ensure all youth have access to time in nature, developing important skills for leadership and civic action along the way. Phases of the 7-month process include 1) Taking stock, 2) Engaging for action, and 3) Identifying a sustainable city-wide model to support the work. This summer, youth leaders will complete assessments of neighborhood environments and out-of-school time opportunities, actively shaping the results of the City Plan.

I would like to know more!


What’s the planning grant for?

The intent of this planning grant is to bring together diverse partners in Madison to identify a collective path to ensuring all children have the chance to spend time in nature. By August 18, partners need to articulate a City Plan to Connect Children to Nature. Then, the funders will consider the 7 cities’ plans and award implementation grants of $50,000. In Madison’s plan, there will be strategies to leverage local funding to support the effort.

How much was the planning grant?

The grant is $25,000. Other support goes to send a small team to

Who awarded the grant?

The Children & Nature Network and the National League of Cities, Institute for Youth, Education and Families, are the program office partners for this grant. Other cities include Providence, St. Paul, Grand Rapids, Austin, San Francisco, and Louisville.

What does it fund?

The funding covers a contract with a Madison community agency (yet to be named) that will help lead the planning process and engage youth and families. Some of the funding will pay for high school interns of color through through the City of Madison Wanda Fullmore Internship. They will reach out to youth and parents of color identify why time in nature is important to them, what has worked to offer them opportunities, what might get in the way, and their dreams for a nature-rich city. A small amount of the grant will offer MMSD teachers time to focus on providing strategies to boost their ability to spend time in outdoor learning, and the remainder will support community events.

How do I get involved?

Complete a few questions and we’ll get in touch!