Press Release

NatureBridge awarded $3.5 million from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

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For Immediate Release
July 19, 2017
Contact: Annie Schuler

San Francisco, CA — On June 20, 2017, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation's Board of Trustees awarded a $3,500,000 grant to NatureBridge, a national nonprofit that provides students with environmental science education in national parks. The grant funds NatureBridge's organization-wide efforts to develop character in youth, promote social and emotional learning, increase internal capacity, and disseminate its learning to the larger environmental education field. This grant builds upon the work NatureBridge completed over the prior 15 months through an introductory grant awarded by the Foundation.

Each year, overnight environmental education providers collectively impact nearly one million young people in the U.S. who spend multiple days with their classmates sleeping away from home, sharing meals, engaging in science, and learning in the outdoors. These immersive experiences open children’s hearts and minds to the beauty and interconnectedness of the natural world and create a unique opportunity to engage young people in character development outside of the classroom. 

This 33-month grant will allow NatureBridge to continue exploring the intersection between environmental science education and character development. It will provide resources to refine and implement the tools required to train and assess NatureBridge educators’ teaching practices around Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). The grant also provides funding to assemble a year-long working group of overnight environmental organizations to expand the impact of SEL in environmental education through the development of shared best practices. This work will improve the way overnight environmental education programs are delivered and impact generations of future environmental stewards.

"Fundamentally, we believe that this work will strengthen our student's experience, not only in the understanding of self, others, and community but in the creation of positive learning environments conducive to advancing their scientific literacy," Stephen Streufert, Vice President of Education & Pacific Northwest Director, NatureBridge.

NatureBridge is proud to be among the cohort of 13 youth development organizations selected for funding by the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation as part of its effort to elevate character development on a national scale. Roughly 48 percent of our nation’s youth will come into contact with one of these organizations over the course of their K-12 career. Included in the cohort are such leading institutions as YMCA of the USA, Outward Bound, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. 


Founded in 1971, NatureBridge connects young people to the wonder and science of the natural world, igniting self-discovery and inspiring stewardship of our planet.  As the largest overnight education partner of the National Park Service, the organization serves more than 35,000 students each year and offers programs in national park locations in California, Washington state and Virginia. 


The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the Stephen Bechtel Fund envision a productive, vibrant and sustainable country that is a model of success and a source of innovation. The Foundation hopes to foster the development of models that can become the standard practices of tomorrow – providing support for inspiring projects, enduring partnerships and high-quality organizations well after the Foundation sunsets in 2020.