Partnerships and Program

Cities Connecting Children to Nature

As a multi-year partnership with the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families, the Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN) initiative is helping city leaders develop and expand strategies for getting more young people outdoors and connected to parks, green space and natural areas—with a focus on low-income and communities of color. The initiative provides training and technical assistance to municipal leaders and community partners to implement plans to create cities where children have the opportunity to play, learn and grow outdoors in nature. Through our work with cities, we seek to ensure that a connection to nature becomes an integral part of city priorities, planning and policymaking across a range of areas, including community health and wellness, education, out-of-school time programming, job creation, transportation and land use.



We are honored to receive, with our partner National League of Cities, an inaugural 2016 OAK Leaf Award on behalf of our Cities Connecting Children to Nature partners. This new annual award, presented by the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, recognizes alliance members for their leadership and collaboration in connecting kids with nature. Read more.

Cities Connecting Children to Nature Initiative Highlights

  • Launched the initiative before 3,000 participants at the National League of Cities Congress of Cities in Austin, Texas in November 2014
  • Conducted a national scan of the landscape of children and nature with more than 100 cities responding
  • Selected 16 cities to participate in two Children & Nature Leadership Academies held in Salt Lake City, UT and Saint Paul, MN
  • From those 16 cities, National League of Cities and Children & Nature Network selected 7 cities to join a planning cohort to create citywide implementation plans for connecting children to nature.

The cities include: Austin, TX – Grand Rapids, MI – Louisville, KY – Madison, WI – Providence, RI – Saint Paul, MN – San Francisco, CA


“The enrichment and education of our nation’s children and young adults was one of the primary reasons I became involved in NLC. I’m proud to say that this program will give mayors and other city leaders the capacity to work closely with the Children & Nature Network, the Department of Interior, and the YMCA to drive major improvements in access to nature for low-income and minority communities throughout the country.” Mayor Chris Coleman, St. Paul, Minnesota


“The Children & Nature Network is thrilled to partner with the National League of Cities to help municipal leaders take actions that recognize the importance of a connection to nature in children’s healthy development. We believe that an investment in both the physical and human infrastructures to connect young people to nature can yield a very high return for cities.” Sarah Milligan-Toffler, Executive Director of the Children & Nature Network


These seven cities are on the leading edge of the children and nature movement. Mayors and city leaders are in a unique position to create opportunities for all children to grow up with nature as part of their everyday lives – and, in fact, could help define the nature-rich city of the 21stt Century.Richard Louv, Author of Last Child in the Woods, and C&NN Co-founder and Chairman Emeritus


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