Ensuring every sixth-grader statewide experiences Outdoor School
For 30 years, funding for Outdoor School declined dramatically. Only students in wealthier districts were accessing this life-changing experience. A group of community activists decided this had to change, creating a statewide movement to ensure funding for every student. … And, they won!
What was the challenge?
Oregon Outdoor School has inspired over 1 million Oregonians through place-based science education for nearly 60 years. It helps students understand and wisely use natural resources, and connects rural and urban Oregon. However, due to decades of limited education dollars, a public will building campaign was needed to win legislative and voter support, and long-term community support to ensure funding and resiliency.
What did we do?
MG collaborated with this group of advocates to establish a movement building and political strategy, crafted a funding case and helped secure seed funding to build a statewide coalition. Together, we created the Oregon Outdoor Education Coalition (OOEC), a bipartisan group of leaders from education, business, environmental advocacy and agriculture across the state. MG helped the coalition conduct statewide research, craft policy proposals and pass a bill through the legislature establishing the structure to disseminate funding. MG then helped OOEC launch the Outdoor School for All initiative that built a statewide grassroots base of support, collected the signatures needed and raised over $1 million to put Measure 99 on the ballot. Through the initiative, we built a diverse movement of advocates across the state to pass the measure and champion future outdoor education needs. MG served as the lead strategist, developed the campaign messaging and collaborated with a diverse team of organizations and consultants. The measure won in a landslide, guaranteeing all sixth-graders in Oregon have access to this incredible program.
There is now funding on a statewide basis so all districts can provide this experience to their students. Within 10 years, approximately 500,000 students will experience this week-long, life-changing outdoor program. They will be joined by 30,000 high school student counselors and teachers who will gain leadership experience while participating in community service and deepen their understanding of our natural resources and communities. MG is honored to have partnered with visionary leaders to establish the nation’s first fully funded, statewide Outdoor School program.