Outdoor Lab Foundation

Our mission is to inspire community support for and advocate on behalf of Jeffco Public Schools' Outdoor Lab Program.

Wheat Ridge, CO   |  www.outdoorlabfoundation.org

Mission

To inspire community support and advocate for the Outdoor Lab Schools.

Ruling year info

2005

Executive Director

Bryan Martin

Main address

3000 Youngfield Street Suite 167

Wheat Ridge, CO 80215 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Jefferson County Public Schools Outdoor Education Foundation

EIN

20-0293537

NTEE code info

Fund Raising and/or Fund Distribution (B12)

Fund Raising and/or Fund Distribution (O12)

Environmental Education and Outdoor Survival Programs (C60)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Outdoor Lab School

A week-long residential science program in the Colorado Wilderness for ALL students, regardless of disability or ability to pay.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of free participants on field trips

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Children, Ethnic and racial groups, Family relationships, Low-income people

Related Program

Outdoor Lab School

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Founded in 1957, Outdoor Lab develops stewardship of self, community, and environment in students. A distinct program within Jeffco Public Schools, Outdoor Lab exposes youth to the outdoors and develops passion and competencies in environmental awareness and conservation. It engages all Jefferson County sixth-grade students (approximately 6,000 per year) in an immersive, residential, environmental, and civic education experience. Moreover, Outdoor Lab recruits approximately 1,000 high school leaders and another 40 high school graduates as interns each year, making the overall experience one that is scaffolded and positively develops young people over multiple years in myriad respects.

Research shows that experiences in nature reduce stress, improve physical health, improve education outcomes, and build civic mindedness. Unfortunately, not every young person has the same opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and are unable to take in all the benefits of being connected to nature in an equitable way. Our model removes material and social barriers to participation outdoors. We understand many of our students don't see themselves represented in outdoor culture, so we provide a community of peers to have these experiences surrounded by caring adult mentors.

Outdoor Lab is a careful integration of several proven youth development models, including experiential education, socio-emotional and life-skills learning, outdoor recreation, and mentorship. Our curriculum and program format work in tandem to help students realize their leadership potential and uncover personal, interpersonal, and social skills. Outdoor Lab provides opportunities for students to practice effective communication, teamwork, and goal setting in a challenging and awe-inspiring wilderness classroom.

Access to positive experiences in the outdoors contributes to health and wellbeing, especially among youth. Personal experiences in the outdoors form the foundation of a lifetime of appreciation and understanding of the importance of natural spaces. Converging evidence and research strongly indicate that a meaningful, personal, and emotional connection to the outdoors is highly predictive of future conservation behaviors.

Positive youth development and imparting environmental education lessons will always be at the center of all our strategies and activities. First and foremost, programs are designed, structured, and framed to support and develop our students. We take the time to deeply align with local schools’ and JeffCo’s educational objectives. We then design each experience, create curriculum, and set goals in concert with our schools and local teachers. Though each group experience is unique, we ensure consistency and alignment with our mutual objectives of teaching environmental science, physics, and astronomy, while also imparting civic mindedness, self-esteem, self-efficacy, empathy, and personal responsibility.

We are unique because we invest in "People, Partnerships, and Places." Our first, and most important, differentiator is that our students are supported, led, and mentored by caring teachers, program instructors, interns, and young adults. These people ensures that our participants receive the maximum support needed to achieve educational goals and gain the most they can throughout the experience.

The second key component of our work is that each outing is designed in partnership with neighborhood schools and derives input from the teachers that work with the students day-to-day. This collaboration allows us to maximize ongoing youth impact. These authentic collaborations help us plan the best lab possible, prepare students for the experience, and ensure effective transference of the lessons and breakthroughs at camp to life back home. Making sure our neighborhood schools are supported and feeling energized to participate in Outdoor Lab is vital to making the experience a transformational one for our young people.

Finally, we pride ourselves on the inspirational places we conduct our labs. Both the Mount Evans and Windy Peak campuses are historic and emotive wilderness properties. The remote setting and inspirational surroundings are key factors in our ability to effect positive change in our students.

To support the People, Partnership, and Places that make our program successful, we invest in four strategic initiatives.

1) Bolstering our Tuition Assistance Program to make sure every student, regardless of their ability to pay, can attend Outdoor Lab. Making Outdoor Lab low or no cost to as many students in Jeffco as possible.

2) Increase funding for our Intern Stipend Program. Easing the burden of the sites to pay interns and making the internship experience more attractive and relevant to more students in the county.

3) Growing our High School Leaders Program which is comprised of the scholarship fund and other material incentives to support our young adult mentors during their volunteerism on site.

4) Providing Site Support so that a) teachers have the materials and supplies to implement fun and impactful programming, b) Site Clinics have the outerwear and resources they need to keep every student warm, dry, safe, and feeling welcome on site. And c) the facilities and grounds of both campuses remain well-maintained, safe, and welcoming environments for our students.

The Foundation and the school district operate in a public-private partnership to support, enhance, and sustain the Outdoor Lab Program. The school district supports the day-to-day operations of the campuses. This includes, but is not limited to, paying teacher salaries, providing transportation for every student, serving all meals, maintaining buildings and grounds, and ensuring health and safety through 24-hour clinic hours and nurse availability.

The Foundation focuses on its four strategic initiatives identified in consultation with the school district and campus principals. These initiatives provide meaningful resources to neighborhood schools, ensure needed capacity to execute curriculum in the field, support additional youth development opportunities, and create a welcoming environment for all students. They are designed to be value-added (not duplicative) to the operational investment made by the school district.

The Foundation is supported through diverse and sustainable revenue sources. Every year, we secure funds to grow our program in four important ways. First, we engage both local and national corporate partners. We have recently received corporate support from Kroger, Safeway, Transamerica, FirstBank, and VF Corp. Specifically, the King Soopers and Safeway Loyalty Card Programs raise approximately $300,000 per year through an average of 4,000 unique shoppers. Much of these funds are unrestricted and go to support youth experiences county-wide. Loyalty Card funds are used to leverage the other revenue brought in by the organization each year.

Second, the Foundation works with local foundations and governments to fund our priorities. We garner support from the largest municipalities in the county – Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, Westminster, Golden, Arvada, and Edgewater. Third, we raise funds from individuals who give in a variety of ways. We host an annual gala which brings in approximately $130,000 in one night, we are growing an annual fund/monthly donor program, and we manage a very successful “Colorado Gives Day” campaign each December.

We are also grateful for the in-kind gear donations we receive from outdoor industry sponsors every year. Providing the technical equipment is one of the biggest hurdles to getting our students out on these experiences. Making sure our kids are warm, dry, and comfortable is key to our ability to run successful outdoor education experiences.

Lastly, the teachers at Outdoor Lab partner with nonprofit organizations and local agencies such as Trout Unlimited, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado to provide technical support to on-site projects, deliver unique lessons on local wildlife and fisheries habitat, and offer external third-party validation for the curriculum being developed. Moreover, the Foundation supports program staff by paying for trainings and professional development opportunities with partners such as Colorado Mountain College and Colorado Association.

Accomplishment for 2021:

Strategic Initiative 1 – Tuition Assistance:

In 2021, we supported neighborhood schools, and the students and families who attend them, by contributing $215,000 to over 35 schools to support their student’s tuition needs so that every student regardless of their socioeconomic background could attend Outdoor Lab. In total, Outdoor Lab hosted over 5,000 students to the mountain campuses thanks, in part, to this support.

Strategic Initiative 2 – Intern Stipends:

In 2021, we contributed $20,000 to help pay for the stipends of 40 Outdoor Lab Interns.

Strategic Initiative 3 – High School Leaders:

In 2021, we provided 3, $2,000, scholarships to deserving High School Leaders. Moreover, we provided $10,000 in uniforms and other material incentives so that the high school leaders felt recognized and supported while serving as volunteers on site. In total, over 500 high school students served as caring young adult mentors during the 2020-2021 schoolyear.

Strategic Initiative 4 – Site Support

In 2021, we contributed over $10,000 to priority maintenance projects on the campuses. Maintaining and enhancing the buildings, trails, and facilities on campus is key to ensuring a memorable and welcoming experience for the students. In addition we garnered in-kind donations and purchased outright the gear and outerwear kids need to stay warm, dry, and comfortable. This program is critical because if a student is cold, or wet, or sunburned, they are not going to want to engage in the curriculum so providing the gear and supplies to safeguard the physical and emotional safety of our kids is vital to ensuring a positive learning environment. Lastly, we invested in important professional development opportunities for the full-time staff at Outdoor Lab.

Financials

Outdoor Lab Foundation
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Outdoor Lab Foundation

Board of directors
as of 10/6/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Jens Jensen

Wellborn Sullivan Meck and Tooley

Term: 2018 - 2021

Michelle Winzent

Merkl Automotive

Barry Weibe

Avout

Jason Dewar

Jeffco Public Schools

Brandon Friedman

Firstbank

Jens Jensen

Wellborn Sullivan Meck and Tooley

Richard Armitage

Temenos

John Hamilton

FCM, LLC

Kathy Weiss

Retired JeffCo Public Schools

Kristen Meier

CAA Icon

Kim Geiseler

Valorem Financial

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 09/28/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability