In its effort to bolster the economies of rural communities through the power of outdoor recreation, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) is partnering with the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
“ORR is proud to announce a new rural economic development partnership with the Richard King Mellon Foundation to support rural communities seeking to create economic opportunities through outdoor recreation,” ORR’s LinkedIn post indicated.
The release highlighted Richard King Mellon Foundation’s commitment to recreation, conservation, and innovative partnerships, which will provide $100,000 to support ORR’s work and provide grants for rural communities.
According to ORR’s release, the partnership also includes an update to the popular Rural Economic Development Toolkit, a resource developed in collaboration with the Oregon State University Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy and The VF Foundation.
The toolkit will feature new success stories, grant opportunities, industry best practices, testimonials, community self-assessment tools, and a comprehensive list of federal and state grants and technical assistance related to outdoor recreation economy development.
The funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation will also allow ORR to launch the second round of its successful grant program in the summer of 2023.
The program provides small matching grants and in-kind technical assistance to rural communities with ambitious plans for their recreation economy. These grants can also help communities unlock other funding opportunities, such as the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) Program, a partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, Northern Border Regional Commission, and Appalachian Regional Commission. This year’s cohort of 25 new RERC communities will be eligible to apply for ORR grants.
These efforts will also be supported by the organization’s association and business members across the $862 billion outdoor recreation economy, who can provide valuable in-kind resources on best practices and strategies for developing high-quality recreation infrastructure.
“This support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation will pay dividends for rural communities across the United States who recognize outdoor recreation’s role in economic diversification and resilience, but may not know where to start, need further technical assistance, or require catalytic funding to get their plans off the ground,” said Chris Perkins, Senior Director at Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.
“The past few years have illustrated outdoor recreation’s role in economic development, improved public health for all, connected communities, and so many other benefits. ORR is greatly appreciative of this new partnership and looks forward to sharing the results of this work over the coming months.”
The outdoor recreation economy sector produced $862 billion in gross economic output in 2021. RVing was the second-largest conventional activity for the nation, with $25.1 billion in current-dollar value added.