Garfield County receives GOCO Inspire Initiative grant for more than $1.5 million to get kids outside

December 15, 2017

DENVER – On Friday, the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board awarded an Inspire Initiative grant in the amount of $1,570,541 to Garfield County and a coalition of partners, called Get Outdoors Garfield County, for the group’s work to get kids outside.

Garfield County’s grant is one of nine Inspire Initiative implementation awards made in this cycle, totaling $14.125 million. The funding brings GOCO’s investment in Inspire to date to more than $29 million, including a $4 million grant from the Colorado Health Foundation, a $75,000 grant from the Boettcher Foundation for rural communities, and a $50,000 donation from DaVita.

Inspire invests in places, programs, and pathways to get Colorado kids and their families outside. The innovative framework is being looked at as a national model in connecting youth with the outdoors, and the participating communities’ approaches to addressing barriers to the outdoors will serve as examples to other rural, urban, suburban, and mountain locales across the country.

The Inspire grant for Garfield County will help put plans in developed for the past two years into action. The coalition will serve residents of four communities: Parachute/Battlement Mesa, Rifle, Silt, and New Castle. Western Garfield County boasts outstanding outdoor recreation destinations, including the Colorado River, Rifle Mountain Park, and three state parks; yet, many area youth lack access to these assets in their own backyards.

The coalition, which represents an innovative partnership amongst local governments, state agencies, school districts, nonprofits, businesses, and youth, identified six major barriers to the outdoors in its planning process: lack of access to water, gear, and transportation; programs for all ages; leadership opportunities; and school involvement in outdoor learning. The coalition will provide a wide range of new outdoor experiences through place projects, including an outdoor classroom in Battlement Mesa.

Two school districts, Garfield County School District 16 in Parachute/Battlement Mesa and Garfield Re-2 in Rifle, Silt, and New Castle, will serve as programming hubs so that students of all age groups and experience levels are connected to free outdoor programs. Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) will provide hands-on outdoor education in elementary school classrooms and at other sites, and the CSU Extension/4-H School Enrichment and After-School Program will provide science and outdoor education curriculum opportunities. Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV) will teach wilderness skills to elementary school students, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) will offer expeditionary learning experiences on the Colorado River.

Other programs will meet the needs of students of varying ages. The Buddy Program will provide outdoor expeditions at Rifle Middle School and Rifle High School, and Colorado Mountain College (CMC) will provide a climbing and challenge course at Rifle Mountain Park.

Programs providing pathways to future careers in the outdoors include Rocky Mountain Youth Corps Community Development Crew paid jobs; service learning experiences with RFOV; gardening stewardship, nature exploration, and trail building jobs through an RFOV, ACES, and Fat City Farmers partnership; and leadership training through 4-H and the Colorado Mountain College Outdoor Leadership Program.

Garfield County’s work will create 204 youth jobs and 10 community jobs and impact more than 6,000 youth.

To date, GOCO has invested more than $10.8 million in Garfield County and has conserved 2,300 acres of land there. GOCO funding has supported the bike park and community garden in Carbondale, Parachute’s community park, and Rifle Gap State Park, among other projects.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,000 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit for more information.