Since our first meeting as a collaborative, one nonprofit program issue has continually popped up at every meeting — transportation. Or more accurately, nonprofit program providers and educators want to find ways to help pay for participants to get to environmental education and outdoor program locations. It is a stubbornly pervasive issue.
In response to this challenge, the EEFC set up a working committee to explore what funders could do to help with this field-wide issue. The EEFC working committee asked environmental education program providers, and the educators who used them, what were the biggest barriers to getting youth to program locations. The most commonly cited barrier was the cost of paying for the buses to transport the students from their school sites to the program locations. Their research showed that for about $10 per child, funders could help reduce (or remove) this cost. While ten dollars is not a lot of money, it can be the difference between a child experiencing a great outdoor program in nature, and sitting in the classroom talking about the nature.
Photo credit: Environmental Volunteers
Based on the committee’s research and recommendations, the EEFC members created a Transportation Fund to help pay for the transportation costs of getting students out into nature and into environmental education and outdoor programs.
EEFC members developed a pooled fund, seeded with contributions from its members. In consultation with nonprofit and educational leaders, the EEFC developed criteria for awarding the funds. The pilot program was quickly over subscribed and the funds spent within a few short months. The outcomes were terrific, thousands of children were able to access outdoor and environmental programs for a relatively low-cost. The fund has proven to be effective, and efficient.
EEFC members have continued to seed the fund annually, and to date, over 11,000 students, from schools with an average of 70% free and reduced lunch, have experienced a field trip through this fund.
Today, the Transportation Fund provides up to $500 per field trip for the costs of transporting low-income schools to environmental education programs throughout the Bay Area.
Teachers may apply online through Science by Nature.org.
The Science by Nature.org website connects educators and environmental education program providers in the Bay Area. The site provides teachers easy access to a searchable database of local environmental education programs educational standards.
How You Can Help!
Think of it this way : A simple idea + high demand = huge impact.
Your gift of $2,500 takes 250 low-income children into the outdoors for a hands-on, science content standards-based experience — and that inspires student artwork like this!
The only limitation to the Transportation Fund is the funding available. You can help get more kids out!