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Grants help underserved communities get outdoors more

Grant recipient, Spirit of the Sun, empowers indigenous youth – a $100,000 grant will help them knock down barriers for kids to enjoy more outdoor activities.

DENVER — Colorado is making the outdoors more accessible for underserved communities with dozens of first-ever Outdoor Equity grants to organizations across the state. 

The non-profit, Spirit of the Sun, is just one of the recipients – they plan on investing the money in their Native American youth. 

"Even how I treat myself and how I go about my day, it's all been changed by Spirit of the Sun," said Jaden Huynh, 19. "It's all been changed by discovering more about my indigenous identity." 

Connecting with her Native American community has made all the difference.

Credit: KUSA
Jaden Huynh, Spirit of the Sun

"Living my life the Native way and it's been amazing," she said. "Culture loss is a really big pinnacle in my community, the Native community. We still feel the impact of what has happened to our people and we still care."   

The organization's focus is to empower Native youth. 

"It really comes back to ancestral connections that we're trying to rejuvenate," said Evangelina Gonzalez, youth program coordinator. "We're not able to provide an outdoor activity unless we're able to get gear, unless we're able to have safety unless we're able to have food measures in place, transportation is huge."

Now, with the help of a $100,000 grant, they'll be able to knock down some of those barriers. 

"I have seen what the kids are excited to do and it just is exciting because now I can tell them that I can provide this experience for them," said Gonzalez.

She said the grant will help expand programs like camping trips, foraging, hiking, skiing, farming and a lot more. 

“We have very minimal resources in the Native community and so a grant like this enables us to do the bare minimum that other communities are just able to do," said Huynh. "This allows us to get Natives out there and back in the outdoors and also just into recreational programs like normal kids do."

The Outdoor Equity grants are a part of legislation signed by the governor last year that awarded anywhere from $4,000 to $150,000 to more than 40 state organizations. 

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