SANTA FE, N.M. – The New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division (ORD), a division of the N.M. Economic Development Department (EDD), announced the inaugural award recipients of the Outdoor Equity Fund (OEF). The first-of-its-kind OEF was created to allow all youth equitable access to the outdoors. The grant will support transformative outdoor experiences that foster stewardship and respect for New Mexico’s land, water, and cultural heritage.
A volunteer evaluation committee spent hours poring over 84 applications filled with innovative ideas to get kids outside in a COVID-safe way. The ORD is especially grateful to the reviewers: Gabe Vasquez, Las Cruces city councilor; Marlene Catherine Yanez, La Semilla Food Center program coordinator; Phoebe Suina, founder of High Water Mark; Simon Sotelo, community grassroots organizer at NM Wild; and Anthony Marquez, outdoor recreation business owner.
“The Outdoor Equity Fund is one of the proudest achievements of my administration to date, and I’m humbled that we can provide this incredible opportunity for New Mexico kids,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “The great outdoors is New Mexico’s most treasured resource — our beautiful green forests, our clean air, the mountains and mesas and rivers that make New Mexico the greatest place in the world. Everyone deserves a chance to experience them, and providing these pathways is a big step toward building a robust outdoor recreation economy we know we can create here.”
“Investing in youth access to the outdoors is economic development,” Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said. “By getting more young New Mexicans outside, the Outdoor Equity Fund builds a rung on the career ladder for these kids to find jobs working with our remarkable lands and waters. The grant opportunity also advances education for the next generation about the importance of a healthy environment to the state’s future. I want to thank lawmakers and other donors to the fund for making this a reality.”