A partnership between Qualistar, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Natural Learning Initiative, Colorado’s Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) program works to improve the design of outdoor spaces through grant-funded landscape design assistance, funding to naturalize the outdoor learning environment, and ongoing training for ECE professionals to actively engage children in their outdoor spaces.
Grants are awarded through a competitive application process. Grants are divided into two categories—Demonstration Sites and Seed Grant Sites.
Demonstration sites serve as resource and training hubs for their community and nearby ECHO seed grant sites, showcasing how incremental, affordable improvements to the outdoor learning environment impact young children’s healthy development. They receive $10,000 toward the installation of a best-practice outdoor learning environment (OLE).
Seed grant sites offer hands-on training opportunities at demonstration site grounds. These training opportunities guide site improvements through a reciprocal relationship of coaching, sharing, and learning. Each awarded site will receive a $5,000 grant and technical assistance to aid in naturalizing their outdoor learning environments.
Qualistar’s Outdoor Learning Specialist runs trainings for professionals to learn techniques to improve outdoor learning environments and engage children in quality outdoor activities.
Primary Role of Program in Early Childhood Systems:
Adams, Alamosa, Arapahoe, Archuleta, Baca, Bent, Boulder, Broomfield, Chaffee, Cheyenne, Clear Creek, Conejos, Costilla, Crowley, Custer, Delta, Denver, Dolores, Douglas, Eagle, Elbert, El Paso, Fremont, Garfield, Gilpin, Grand, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Huerfano, Jackson, Jefferson, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Lake, La Plata, Larimer, Las Animas, Lincoln, Logan, Mesa, Mineral, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Morgan, Otero, Ouray, Park, Phillips, Pitkin, Prowers, Pueblo, Rio Blanco, Rio Grande, Routt, Saguache, San Juan, San Miguel, Sedgwick, Summit, Teller, Washington, Weld, Yuma, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
Outcome-Based Activities The Program/Initiative Provides:
Settings and practices promote strong relationships, social and emotional development, appropriate nutrition and physical activity
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All environments are safe, free of toxins, have affordable foods and offer physical activity
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Education, coaching and ongoing training exist for caregivers, teachers and other professionals
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Learning experiences and environments are high quality, developmentally appropriate and affordable
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Formal and informal care environments and education practices reach the highest levels of quality
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Program evaluates effectiveness of activities and services:
3607 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Denver, Colorado 80205