Press Release

Press Release  Healey-Driscoll Administration Announces $167,000 in Grants to Support Inclusive and Accessible Outdoor Recreation

Grant funding to improve equitable access to outdoor recreation events
For immediate release:
  • Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
  • The Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation

Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll Administration Announces $167,000 in Grants to Support Inclusive and Accessible Outdoor Recreation

Aisha Revolus, Communications Manager

People Kayaking.

BOSTON — In celebration of Earth Month, the Healey-Driscoll Administration today announced $167,000 in grants to support equitable access to outdoor recreation events through the Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation (MOOR). 21 organizations and municipalities have been awarded Inclusive and Accessible Event grants to improve ease of access to outdoor recreational activities for low-income residents, communities of color, and people living with disabilities.

“These grants support the essential work of organizations and municipalities striving to ensure everyone feels welcome and included in Massachusetts’ outdoors. Expanding access to outdoor recreation is the perfect opportunity for grantees to showcase the beautiful rivers, trails, and parks that we have to offer to all residents and visitors,” said MOOR Director Paul Jahnige. “Outdoor recreation events in nature support our mental, physical, and social health and the state’s economic health. Investing in the outdoor recreation economy is a step towards strengthening our connections with each other and the natural environment.” 

Established in December 2022, MOOR collaborates with agencies and private partners to promote activities across the state, including hunting, fishing, horseback riding, paddling, swimming, and more. Outdoor recreation is vital to Massachusetts, contributing $11 billion to the economy, creating over 102,000 jobs, and boosting tourism. 

“This is a wonderful program, and I'm grateful to the Office of Outdoor Recreation, Mystic River Watershed Association, and their partners for making it possible for more people to get out on the river,” said State Senator Patricia D. Jehlen (Second Middlesex). “This is another way MyRWA is working to make people aware of the river, to clean it up and make it accessible. I love canoeing on the Mystic and am happy when there are more people every year enjoying nature and paddling!"

“Western Massachusetts is home to some of the most extraordinary year-round outdoor recreational activities in Massachusetts. The breadth of opportunities provides residents and visitors with the perfect way to explore an area of interest at the entry level, where they may be most comfortable,” said State Representative Natalie M. Blais (1st Franklin). “These grants will help in expanding opportunities to welcome all to experience our great outdoors.” 


Funded grants include:  

Fairhaven Recreation Department: $10,000  

Fairhaven Adaptive and Inclusive Anglers Fishing Derby  

The Fairhaven Recreation Department is partnering with M.O. L.I.F.E. and the Fairhaven Belonging Committee to host the 1st annual "Inclusive Anglers Fishing Derby." This family-friendly event aims to provide inclusive and adaptive access to anyone interested in fishing. Instead of focusing solely on competition, the emphasis is on fun and removing barriers to participation. The department’s goal is to offer an opportunity for individuals, many who are members of the disability community who may have never experienced fishing before, to join in outdoor fun. Fishing was identified as the top requested activity by clients of M.O. L.I.F.E., highlighting the strong interest and desire for participation in this event. The Recreation Department will continue to offer an adaptive fishing program following the fishing derby event.  

City of Fall River: $8,612.50  

Stepping Into Spring: Bird Watching, Kite Night, and Freshwater Fishing   

The City of Fall River will promote equitable access to outdoor recreation activities and spaces through its Stepping Into Spring series of events. Engaging over 500 participants, events include guided bird watching at the SE Massachusetts Bioreserve, fishing on the Taunton River with the "Cops and Bobbers" program, and "Family Kite Night" at the City Pier. Fall River has one of the lowest median household incomes of any community in Massachusetts. All events will be free and open to the public.  

MA Division of Marine Fisheries: $7,800  

New Bedford Saltwater Fishing Clinic  

New Bedford, MA  

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (MADMF) will partner with New Bedford Parks, Recreation, and Beaches (MBPRB) to host a saltwater in-person fishing clinic at the Fort Taber pier in New Bedford. MADMF will provide 8-12 staff biologists to teach, showcase, and assist with the basics of saltwater fishing from the pier. The clinic will offer stations to learn knot tying, casting, fish measuring, proper fish handling, fish identification, and responsible techniques for catch and release fishing. MADMF staff will provide all the expertise, tables, tents, setup and breakdown, rods, tackle, and bait for clinic use, along with free educational handouts. MOOR grant funds will be used to purchase 120 rods and tackle kits for all the participants to take home and build on their experience. Spanish-translated materials will support inclusivity goals to engage and educate Spanish-speaking members of the public to make saltwater fishing more accessible for everyone, both at this event and other future field events, workshops, and shows.  

City of Fitchburg: $5,000  

Fitchburg Junior Ranger Program  

The City of Fitchburg proposes to create a Junior Park Ranger Program, with a booklet and materials in English and Spanish to engage youth and their families in serving as an ambassador for the Fitchburg Park System. This initiative unfolds across the city's public parks, playgrounds, and open spaces. Crafted with the participants in mind, the program encourages active exploration and engagement across more than 40 public areas within the city. The journey of learning and accomplishment culminates with the receipt of a certificate, a junior ranger, and, most importantly, the satisfaction of giving back to the community.  

American Whitewater: $10,000  

Access to the Water (A2A): Diversify Whitewater and Paddling Futures Events on the Deerfield River  

Charlemont, MA  

American Whitewater will partner with Zoar Outdoor to host Diversify Whitewater: a one-day river rafting event on the Deerfield River (July 27, 2024) that aims to remove barriers that BIPOC people face when accessing inclusive outdoor recreation opportunities. The organization will host Paddling Futures: a 5-day long kids kayak immersion program that aims to remove barriers that low-income youth face when accessing the river, learning about paddlesports, and outdoor recreation.   

Boy Scouts of America – Spirit of Adventure Council: $10,000  

New England Base Camp (NEBC) Outdoor Conference: Climbing, Hiking, Leadership and Women in the Outdoors  

Milton, MA  

New England Base Camp (NEBC) Outdoor Conference is designed to meet people where they are, from the most experienced to the brand-new rookie in the outdoors. NEBC will offer 33 different sessions designed to show folks what can be done outdoors, where to find resources, and how to do the activities. Everyone from teenagers, families, teachers, youth leaders, Scouts, and other youth groups are invited. Topics include climbing, hiking, outdoor leadership, women in the outdoors, and much more. Partners include The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, Fu Guang Buddhist Temple Boston, Josiah Quincy Elementary School Chinatown, LGBTQ+ Organizations, and others.  

Charles River Watershed Association: $10,000  

The Quinobequin Paddle   

Boston, MA  

Partnering with Indigenous Peoples Day Newton and Charles River Canoe and Kayak, the Charles River Watershed Association will host The Quinobequin Paddle. This event is native conceived and native lead. It will engage 80-100 individuals of all ages, with the majority being Indigenous Native American peoples, paddling on the Charles River from Norumbega Park, heading downstream, and then circling back to Auburndale Cove. Coming ashore at the Cove, there will be a meal; and a program of cultural teaching,  and sharing. 

Easterseals Massachusetts Inc: $10,000  

Accessible Fishing Derby in Bridgewater   

Bridgewater, MA  

Easterseals Massachusetts, the largest provider of disability services for children and adults living in Massachusetts, will host an accessible Fishing Derby at their new campus in Bridgewater, MA. This outdoor event will empower children (ages 14 and under) living with disabilities and their families, to participate in an accessible and inclusive outdoor event where they can experience the joy of fishing and adaptive recreation activities. The event will engage over 150 youth living with disabilities, caregivers/families and will be open to the public.  

Gándara Mental Health Center: $10,000  

Recovery Retreat Week Outdoors: Hiking, Horseback Riding, Bird Watching and More  

Springfield, MA  

Gándara promotes the well-being of Latinos, African Americans, and other culturally diverse populations through culturally competent behavioral health and prevention services. The organization proposes holding a Recovery Retreat Week. Based on a participant survey, six sites across the state will host outdoor activities of interest, such as fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and bird watching for those in recovery from substance abuse disorder. Sites in Holyoke, Brocton, Hyannis, Springfield, Plymouth, and Falmouth will identify a one-day activity, to not only generate long-term interest in outdoor recreation, but also support healing, encourage self-awareness, and develop positive coping mechanisms.   

Various Communities: Springfield, Holyoke, Brocton, Hyannis, Plymouth, Falmouth  

Hassanamisco Nipmuc Band Project Mishoon: $10,000   

Nipmuc Band Mishoom Burn  

Worcester, MA  

The Hassanamisco Nipmuc Band mishoon burn is an indigenous cultural project that aims to bring the Nipmuc tribe closer to their ancestors and promote cultural awareness. The project will take place at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, where tribal members will burn a traditional mishoon - a dugout canoe - over the course of a week. Several tribal members will be camping on the shore of the lake, conducting the burn 24/7. During that time, they will engage in fishing, swimming, paddling, and outdoor cooking. Once the mishoon is complete, it will be introduced to the water in a ceremony and launched for a paddle on the lake. This project is of immense cultural significance as the event will take place at the same lake where there are 3 submerged mishoonash at the bottom of the lake. Two of which predate King Philip's War and are just as their makers left them, perfectly preserved. The event will be open to the public and visitors will have the opportunity to witness the creation of the mishoon and learn about the traditional techniques used by the Nipmuc tribe.  

Sonrisas: $10,000  

Promoting Outdoor Belonging in Berkshire County  

Cheshire, MA  

Sonrisas cultivates empowerment and autonomy within marginalized communities of Berkshire County. The organization will also host Finca Luna Búho a land collective with a mission to create a rural place of refuge and knowledge sharing for immigrant, BIPOC, queer, poor and disabled communities.  Sonrisa’s partner - Mixed Faces, Wild Spaces - seeks to foster connection with the outdoors for mixed-race and gender-diverse people, people who experience marginalization, and anyone who has felt excluded in or from the outdoors. Through this grant, they will provide free and recurring outdoor educational and recreational programming located along the Ashuwillticook Bike Trail in Berkshire County for over 280 participants. Events will occur twice a month and include biking, hiking, plant identification, and outdoor education.  

Gnome Surf: $10,000  

Happy Camp with Gnome Surf for neurodivergent, physically diverse, and medically fragile youth and families.   

Westport, MA  

Happy Camp with Gnome Surf is a twice-weekly, cost-free, surf camp event for neurodivergent, physically diverse, and medically fragile youths and their families. Happy Camp is a fully inclusive family fun day at the beach. First families connect, create art, build sandcastles and rock sculptures, and play cornhole and volleyball. Once settled, the athletes hop on board for full one-on-one surf therapy shred sessions. For most families, the epic waves of overwhelming emotion that swell throughout the day are what truly shape this magical experience. Many families navigating special needs, terminal illnesses, and other serious life challenges rarely have the opportunity to experience fun, worry-free, family adventures that become lifelong memories of the days shared feeling happier than a clam at high tide. This grant will support Gnome's first annual, two-day, School's-Out-for-Summer Happy Camp Extravaganza taking place at Horseneck Beach in Westport, MA. This event will serve 70 athletes and their families (estimated 300 individuals).  

Mystic River Watershed Association: $9,996  

Paddling the Mystic River Watershed, Breaking Down Barriers to Access  

Medford, MA  

The Mystic River Watershed Association with its partners, Latino Outdoors, Paddle Boston, Waypoint Adventure, Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH), and GreenRoots will host a series of 23 paddling events, including bilingual, adaptive, and youth-centered events at various sites within the watershed. This project will engage over 1,000 participants, over 30% of whom are expected to be first-time paddlers. This project will reduce barriers to getting on the river for many Latino, disabled, low-income, and BIPOC individuals.    

Various Communities: Medford, Boston, Somerville, Chelsea             

Boyz N The Wood: $9,950  

Nature-Based Restorative Retreat for Black Men at Essex Woods    

Essex, MA  

Boyz N The Wood and its partners, My Brothers Keeper Boston, MENder's Support Group, The Teacher’s Lounge MA, and the Aspen Institute Boston Opportunity Youth Collaborative; is hosting an immersive, nature-based restorative retreat for Black men that includes outdoor activities like rock climbing, hiking, and breathwork in nature. They are bringing 45 Black men together for time spent in nature to create an environment that allows them to engage in self-improvement, heal from trauma, investigate their mental health, and build brotherhood. The organization aims to reduce barriers to access and awareness by removing the cost of participation, and by having skilled Black male facilitators among the group as a source of knowledge and learning. Boyz N The Wood is bringing access and relevance to the fields of outdoor connection and mental health/well-being.  

Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester: $9,565  

Accessible and Equitable Fishing at Jamaica Pond  

Boston, MA  

Partnering with Elevate Youth, the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester will host two fishing trips at the start of the summer at Jamaica Pond. The first event will be accessible to low-income families of color, targeting those generally served by BGCD and the BCYF Leahy-Holloran community center. The second event will be focused on families of children with moderate to severe disabilities, available solely to those enrolled in the BGCD Challenger League, a sports/activity-focused program at the Club that engages children with disabilities. Jamaica Pond is a great place to easily catch fish, due to its accessibility in the City of Boston. Families will get to spend a couple of hours learning and practicing, with professional staff and volunteers. BGCD will provide transportation, fishing beginners gear kit, and angling literature, with multiple language options. Participants will leave with information on where/when to go fishing, important tips to remember, and the means to see it through.  

Clear Path for Veterans New England: $5,000   

Women Veterans Empowerment, A Path to Health and Wellness Program   

Devens, MA  

Clear Path for Veterans New England is holding multiple outdoor recreation events as part of its Women Veterans Empowerment, A Path to Health and Wellness program. These events will include guided hikes and adaptive kayaking excursions. A Salt Marsh Eco-Tour will be a fun way to explore the ecology and wildlife of a unique ecosystem that fills and empties with the tides twice every 24 hours. Adaptive Kayaking, guided by experienced instructors, will allow women Veterans to explore the calming waters tailored to individual abilities. This activity not only promotes physical fitness but also offers a therapeutic connection with nature. Guided Hikes with Adaptive Approaches will include invigorating hikes led by knowledgeable guides adept at tailoring the experience to the group's needs, especially focusing on the movement and comfort of elderly participants. Whether it's a leisurely stroll or a more challenging trek, these hikes promote physical activity and a sense of camaraderie among participants.  

Latino Outdoors: $5,000   

Latino Outdoors - Western Mass and Boston Chapters: Surfing, Rock Climbing, and Hiking  

Holyoke and Boston, MA  

Latino Outdoors is a Latine-led, volunteer-facilitated organization with a mission to inspire, connect, and engage Latino communities in the outdoors and embrace cultura y familia as part of the outdoor narrative. Outings are free, family-friendly, and appropriate for the novice outdoorist. Through this grant, Latino Outdoors' Western Mass and Boston Chapters propose a series of four (4) outdoor events - Youth Surfing, Fishing Fiesta - Family Fishing, Outdoor Rock Climbing, and Family Day Hike and Storytelling. It is rare to be able to hike, surf, fish, or climb with a group of people who look like you, talk like you, and come from similar backgrounds. Latino Outdoors offers a unique culturally rich outdoor experience for at least 70 participants.  

All Out Adventures: $4,900  

Adaptive Riding at the Massochistah  

Northampton, MA  

The Massochistah is an annual community cycling event, hosted by the Northampton Cycling Club (NCC), that is in its 5th year. The Massochistah engages approximately 1,000 individuals (NCC members, supporters, and local media). The event, which has historically taken place in Ashfield, MA, consists of four unique routes on primarily gravel and dirt roads. The event will take place on the morning of April 27, 2024. Participants will use gravel bikes or mountain bikes to complete the course. With this grant, All Out Adventures will engage athletes with disabilities, which has formerly catered exclusively to people who don't identify as having a disability. The organization will provide 1) Recumbent trikes and handcycles specifically outfitted for dirt and gravel terrain; 2) Wheelchair accessible porta potties at the event start and finish and at one rest stop along the shortest route; and 3) Support from staff who have a wealth of knowledge and experience overseeing outdoor recreation activities for individuals with disabilities. 

Sail Martha’s Vineyard: $4,750  

SailMobility Spring Program   

Vineyard Haven, MA  

Sail Martha’s Vineyards has invested over $90,000 in the last year in its SailMobility program, adding six (6) specifically designed sailing boats to its fleet, new docks, and engines to support the organization’s efforts to offer sailing opportunities to the intellectually challenged and disabled member of Martha’s Vineyard youth community. This grant will enable Sail Martha’s Vineyard to expand its “SailMobility” initiative with a 10-week spring program. This new program will engage at least 20 new students in adaptive sailing, none of whom would ever have thought that they might one day be sailing in a small craft, let alone helming one.  

New England Botanic Garden: $3,500  

Project Bloom   

Worcester, MA  

Partnering with the Worcester Refugee Assistance Project (WRAP), YouthGROW, the Latino Education Institute at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Girls Inc. of Worcester, and Safe Homes; Project Bloom draws from a menu of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) programs to create 6, two-hour sessions for each youth group tailored to their audience. The New England Botanic Garden offers many popular programs including habitat hikes, botanical illustration and watercolor classes, hands-on gardening, and nature photography classes. To address financial and geographic barriers, NEBG will offer the program free of charge to its community partners and will provide free bussing to the Garden for all groups.   

Holyoke Rows, Inc: $3,000   

Stem to Stern Rowing Program  

Holyoke, MA  

With this grant, Holyoke Rows is expanding its pilot Stem to Stern rowing program that launched last year. The organization provides a 4 day a week, introductory rowing program for Holyoke Middle School students over 6 weeks. Holyoke Rows will engage 20 middle school students in the program from April through June. Rowing fosters leadership skills, individual confidence, and teamwork to achieve success. They will lead discussions about boat-moving concepts during each practice and their relationship to science education. Then staff and participants will review drills before getting on the Connecticut River on sculling boats.    


Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll Administration Announces $167,000 in Grants to Support Inclusive and Accessible Outdoor Recreation

  • Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs 

    EEA seeks to protect, preserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s environmental resources while ensuring a clean energy future for the state’s residents. Through the stewardship of open space, protection of environmental resources, and enhancement of clean energy, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs works tirelessly to make Massachusetts a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family.
  • The Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation 

    The Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation (MOOR) seeks to promote Massachusetts as a great place to come play outside! We further seek to make Massachusetts one of the most welcoming, inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible places to recreation outside. Whether you are a visitor or a resident, explore what Massachusetts has to offer.
  • Image credits:  People Kayaking (All Out Adventures)

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