Since its creation, Project Outside has raised more than $150,000 to fund maintenance and development of outdoor assets and support outdoor-related businesses in the Roanoke Region.
Project Outside is distributing an additional $50,000 in grant funding for projects throughout the Roanoke Region thanks to donations from corporate partners and individuals.
Building upon the $100,000 raised in 2020 (which funded 14 projects already completed), this year’s Project Outside grants will fund 10 projects including tools for volunteer trail workers, tree plantings, bridge and trail repairs, a regional trail building workshop, expansion of a popular James River access parking lot, a mountain bike skills development facility, and continued support of outdoor programs for underserved youth. Grant applications totaled more than $145,000 in funding requests.
“The outdoors is integral to the region’s narrative and economic development strategy,” said Pete Eshelman, director of Roanoke Outside Foundation. “The goal of Project Outside is to invest in our community’s competitive advantage, the outdoors. Grants will be used to fund needed projects that will make an immediate impact in the community by the end of 2022.”
Project Outside, which launched in August 2020, is a first of its kind campaign to fund the maintenance and development of outdoor assets and support outdoor-related businesses and initiatives. The Roanoke Outside Foundation administers the grants that break down into three categories: maintenance, new infrastructure, and organization support.
“We have been thrilled with what the Roanoke Outside has accomplished with the Project Outside grants” says Brian McCahill, president of Pathfinders for Greenways. “Pathfinders along with many other trail and outdoor groups have been able to give more back to the community using these grants. We can supplement our normal donations with extra grant money to provide more effective tools to our trail volunteers, allowing us to work more efficiently and safely. We all know the importance of having the right tools for the job. With these grants, Project Outside has allowed us to motivate our volunteers with helpful tools and accelerate our trail work.”
Grant recipients evaluated by the Roanoke Outside Foundation Advisory Council, which used a blind scorecard to allocate available funds to projects that demonstrated the highest and most immediate need and ability to be completed in a timely manner.
“We are thrilled to be receiving a grant award” said Jo Nelson with Total Action for Progress. “This grant helps at-risk youth from the Roanoke City area experience the beauty of nature that surrounds us. Many of our students have never had the opportunity to explore the Blude Ridge Parkway, Appalachian Trail, or other natural settings that many of us take for granted. That experience is, in some cases, transformational.”
Project Outside grant recipients:
- Botetourt County Parks and Recreation: $7250 to expand and increase parking at the Alpine public access point on the James River in Buchanan.
- Trees Roanoke: $1000 to remove dead and dying trees along the Roanoke River Greenway and replace with new ones.
- Humble Hustle: $4699 to expand the Humble Hikes program and increase capacity by hiring part-time staff to continue offering monthly outdoor programming to underserved youth.
- Blue Ridge Off-Road Cyclists: $5000 to conduct a regional trail maintenance workshop focused on ongoing maintenance needs at Explore Park while expanding the pool of qualified volunteers throughout the region.
- Pathfinders for Greenways: $1700 to purchase tools needed for trail building and maintenance.
- Total Action of Progress: $3563 to continue Project Discovery, an outdoor club to connect underserved youth with the outdoors.
- Roanoke Mountain Adventures: $5250 to build a public mountain bike skills development facility along the Roanoke River Greenway in Vic Thomas Park.
- Alleghany Highlands Trail Club: $7300 to rehabilitate 10 miles of North Mountain Trail.
- Franklin County Parks and Recreation: $9238 to replace rotten boards on a bridge in Waid Park that spans the Pigg River.
- Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club: $5000 to repair the McAfee Knob fire road, used as a secondary trail to/from McAfee Knob but also for rescues.
This is our time to invest in our community strength – the outdoors – to continue positioning the Roanoke Region as a preferred place to live, work, play, and visit. Contributions can still be made at https://www.roanokeoutside.com/project-outside/.