The It’s Great Out There Coalition has announced details of the first projects that will benefit from its grants programme in 2020. Two #itsgreatouthere grants will boost projects that will introduce young people to the outdoors for the first time: An initiative run through a partnership between Le CREPS de Vallon Pont d’Arc and outdoor brand Ternua; and a scheme organised by En Passant par la Montagne and French trade association Outdoor Sports Valley (OSV).

Launched in 2017, the #itsgreatoutthere grants programme supports grass roots projects, which have primarily been developed to take new participants into the outdoors. Any non-profit organisation can apply for an #itsgreatoutthere grant of between €1,000 and €5,000. The It’s Great Out There Coalition encourages potential applicants to team up with partners from the outdoor industry such as brands, retailers and activity providers, especially those who are already members of the coalition.

A priority is to support applications that will help young people access the outdoors for the first time, particularly those who are based in the inner cities or live in circumstances that make it difficult to get to the hills and mountains. Before the latest awards, #itsgreatoutthere grants had supported 17 projects, directly benefiting 5,260 people.

Founded in in 1995, the non-profit ‘En Passant par la Montagne’ (‘Through the Mountain’) initiative allows young people and adults in underprivileged or challenging circumstances (social marginalisation, failing in school/school dropouts, dealing with sickness or disability) – to access the mountains and outdoor sports as a source of motivation and support to rise above their current situation.

In 2020, an #itsgreatoutthere grant will support a project that will focus on three neighbourhoods: Les Pelerins in Chamonix Mont-Blanc; Vouilloux in Sallanches; and Ewues in Cluses. With support from OSV, the En Passant par la Montagne team will undertake three phases of engagement and activity, to build confidence among the young people who take part.

The work will start with the establishment of a ‘base camp’ in each location with a climbing wall, zip line between buildings, slackline, orienteering course, teepees, and events that introduce people to the vertical environment. The next stage will involve taking participants further afield, for a day of outdoor rock climbing near each neighbourhood, and the programme will conclude with a two-day adventure in the high mountains, as an introduction to mountaineering and an opportunity for each young person to step some way outside their comfort zone.

For several years, CREPS de Vallon Pont d’Arc (CREPS are local centres for sports development located throughout France) has been working in close collaboration with the local Mission of Aubenas, in order to give young people on the fringes of the education system opportunities to explore nature and take part in outdoor activities. Last year, working closely with It’s Great Out There Coalition member Ternua, the CREPS project team successfully delivered three days of outdoor activities to young people who had never experienced them before. These included kayaking, via ferrata, bivouacking around a campfire, mountain biking and canyoning. The project was a big success and the partners applied for another #itsgreatoutthere grant to sustain it in 2020 and introduce more youngsters to the outdoors.

Margo de Lange, policy officer for the It’s Great Out There Coalition, comments: “We carefully assess every application before awarding #itsgreatoutthere grants. Each project that we have supported so far has led to profound and positive impacts for the thousands of young participants who have benefitted. Thanks to the partners involved, we’re confident that our first two grants of 2020 will also make a huge difference for those involved. This is just the start of another busy year of activation for our campaign. We will be awarding more grants soon and have some other exciting initiatives in the pipeline.”

Founded by the European Outdoor Group and supported by some of the biggest outdoor companies and associations in Europe, the It’s Great Out There Coalition is leading the #itsgreatoutthere campaign to encourage more people to lead healthier lives by getting active in the outdoors. Applications for the next round of #itsgreatoutthere grants will open on 1 July. To find out more about the grants and how to apply, visit www.itsgreatoutthere.com/grants.