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Vera Feeny | Associate for the Connecting Children to Nature and Early Childhood Success programs in the NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.

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Eleven Cities Join Cities Connecting Children to Nature Initiative


April 4, 2018 | Children & Nature Network |

Regular access to nature brings multiple benefits to children, including improved mental and physical health and increased opportunities for social and emotional learning.

With these benefits in mind, Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN), a joint initiative of the National League of Cities and Children & Nature Network, welcomes 11 new cities to mobilize municipal efforts that increase equitable access to nature for all residents.

Six cities will receive intensive technical assistance and $75,000 in planning and implementation grants:

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Houston, Texas
  • Gary, Indiana
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • St. Louis, Missouri

Five cities will join the cohort for peer-learning opportunities, including Albuquerque, New Mexico, Cincinnati, Ohio, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Rochester, New York, and Seattle, Washington.


Each city expressed strong mayoral commitment and dedicated capacity for connecting children to the proven benefits of nature. CCCN city teams will enlist cross-sector agencies and partners to prioritize increasing equitable access for low-income residents and people of color.

“In the wake of Hurricane Harvey,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston, Texas, “as Houston rebuilds our neighborhoods, schools, and infrastructure more resiliently, we will take the opportunity to utilize CCCN assistance to assess gaps, analyze equity, and map assets throughout our City, to improve plans and policies that will increase access to nature for all children as part of their everyday lives.”

This new cohort will build on strategies that gained momentum among seven pilot cities in 2015-17, such as shared-use green schoolyards, early childhood nature play spaces, NatureSmart Libraries and green career pathways, and explore new areas of potential. A partner initiative, the 10-Minute Walk to a Park Campaign, will also provide tools for the new cohort to use.

CCCN technical assistance helps participating cities collect data to analyze local assets and opportunities, plan and implement tailored strategies that address community needs, and maximize potential for meaningful nature connections in residents’ daily lives. The CCCN Resource Hub provides resources and tools, including a Municipal Action Guide and Metrics Toolkit, for cities and their partners as they start to connect children to nature, more equitably


The Children & Nature Network (C&NN) believes that nature makes children healthier, happier and smarter. C&NN is a US-based 501c3 nonprofit organization working to increase equitable access to nature for children, families and communities so that children—and natural places—can thrive. It does this by investing in leadership and communities through sharing evidence-based resources, scaling innovative solutions, and driving policy change.

The Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN) initiative, a partnership between the National League of Cities and Children & Nature Network generously supported by The JPB Foundation, began in 2014 and provides technical assistance, training, extensive resources and documentation, and peer learning opportunities to increase equitable access to nature’s many benefits for all residents.

Sarah Milligan Toffler, Executive Director, Children & Nature Network

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Staff & Partners Blog​​

November 22, 2017| Children & Nature Network |

The well-being of children and the wild places we love are inextricably linked. And although it’s a relatively new area of study, a growing body of evidence indicates that nature has a powerful -- and positive -- effect on children’s healthy development. Hundreds of studies show that time spent in nature makes children happier, healthier and smarter.

But with today’s kids being less connected to nature than previous generations, children and the natural world need each other now more than ever.

Since our founding more than ten years ago, the Children & Nature Network has played a critical role in the movement to reconnect kids to the natural world. Our small but mighty team supports thousands of people working every day to ensure equitable access to nature for children, families and communities. Our work takes many forms. You may experience it through our Research Library and Digest, leadership writing and social media campaigns, conferences, trainings, toolkits, coalition-building efforts and on-the-ground projects, which are just some of the ways in which we work to increase nature connection.
Together, with our supporters and partners, we’ve made steady progress over the years. We have a track record of success. And we believe we’ve reached an important point in our growth; one that calls us to further unite our voices and talents in order to create a world in which all children play, learn and grow with nature in their everyday lives.
I am thrilled to announce our new membership model, developed through deep engagement with a diverse group of network leaders. This new approach is designed to harness the vitality and commitment of all who share our vision by asking them to become members of our network. Members will be more deeply connected to our broad coalition of practitioners, researchers, parents, educators, grassroots leaders and others, to grow the children and nature movement and raise the visibility and urgency of this issue with funders and policymakers. By becoming a member, you’ll help us build a more powerful base for connecting children to nature -- and help us better understand and meet your needs.
A gift of any size makes you a member of the Children & Nature Network. Help us grow and strengthen the constituency for this critical issue -- and shape the future of the children and nature movement.
Thank you for taking this important leap forward with us as an organization -- and as a social movement critical to children’s health and well-being.

Join before January 15, 2018 and you’ll be recognized as a Charter Member and a champion for children and nature. As a Charter Member, you’ll have increased opportunities to engage with leaders in our movement and gain valuable support and resources. You will join like-minded changemakers in creating a more powerful constituency for our issue -- and help shape the future of the children and nature movement.

Seven Cities Activate Strategies to Connect Kids to Nature

“Imagine a city known for excellent environmental education because its parks are natural classroom. As a city, we are creating greater access to nature for all of our younger residents.” -Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mayor Rosalynn Bliss Last year, the National League of...

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