On December 4th, the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board of the Recreation and Conservation Office met to discuss proposed changes to grant evaluation criteria for on six recreation and conservation-focused grant programs.
The board approved the proposed changes, which will be implemented immediately. These changes will affect grant programs in the next application rounds – some even as soon as this Spring! The programs affected include WWRP Local Parks, Water Access, and Trails. Changes also affect the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA), the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and the Youth Athletic Facilities (YAF) grant programs.
If you’re working on a grant application for any of these programs for 2024, we strongly recommend you reach out to your grant manager immediately!
The approved changes were identified through various studies and recommendations, like the RCO Grant Program equity review, SCORP, and other reports and findings. The primary goals are to reduce gaps in access to greenspace, address disparities in how funding is distributed, and streamline and simplify criteria and align it across grant programs.
RCO staff worked with public stakeholders like community orgs, local government agencies, nonprofits, and one Native American Tribe to create and propose better changes to meet these goals. WWRC staff participated in this public comment period and submitted our feedback on the initial draft changes in the late summer/fall.
We found these changes to be carefully crafted and thoughtful. Overall, the changes increase focus on equity and access in the evaluation process. The adoption of these changes signifies a great start to a shift in making access to recreation and conservation funds in Washington more equitable.
Of course, these changes mark just one of the beginning steps in implementing the recommendations from the 2022 Equity Review we advocated for. We look forward to continuing to partner with RCO and communities around the state to further enhance the already awesome program that is the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Program.
Read more about the specific changes in grant criteria here at RCO’s meeting agenda and materials for the December 4th meeting (specifically on pages 7-9).