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AB-988 Outdoor Environmental Education and Recreation Grants Program.(2015-2016)

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Date Published:
AB988:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  June 30, 2015
Amended  IN  Assembly  June 01, 2015
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 29, 2015

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2015–2016 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 988


Introduced by Assembly Members Mark Stone and Atkins
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Lopez)

February 26, 2015


An act to amend Section 5095.4 of, and to add Chapter 14 (commencing with Section 5880) to Division 5 of, the Public Resources Code, relating to parks, and making an appropriation therefor.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 988, as amended, Mark Stone. Outdoor Environmental Education and Recreation Grants Program.
Existing law authorizes the expenditure of state funds for local assistance grants to cities, counties, and districts for the acquisition and development of various park and recreational areas and facilities. Existing law, the State Urban Parks and Healthy Communities Act, requires the Director of Parks and Recreation, in consultation with the State Department of Education, to develop a competitive grant program to assist state parks, state conservancies in existence as of January 1, 2003, urbanized and heavily urbanized local agencies, and community-based organizations within those jurisdictions, to provide outdoor educational opportunities to children.
This bill would require the Department of Parks and Recreation to establish, on or before March 30, 2016, an Outdoor Environmental Education and Recreation Grants Program with the purpose of increasing the ability of underserved and at-risk populations to participate in outdoor recreation and educational experiences by awarding grants to public organizations, nonprofit organizations, or both. The bill would require the director to develop criteria criteria, procedures, and accountability measures as may be necessary to implement the program and to administer the program to ensure that priority is given to underserved populations, as specified. The bill would authorize the director to develop an advisory task force to assist in the development of the program and would require the director to give priority funding to outdoor environmental education and recreation programs that have specified attributes.
This bill would authorize the director to accept private donations made for the support of the program and would authorize the director to solicit and accept private funding sources to help supplement offset the costs of the program. The bill would provide that, to the extent specified bond funds are available for grants under the program, those funds shall be awarded to programs that meet the criteria of the State Urban Parks and Healthy Communities Act. The bill would require that all moneys received for the purposes of the program be deposited into the California Youth Outdoor Education Account, which would be created by the bill and would be continuously appropriated for purposes of the program, thereby making an appropriation.
This bill would require the department to gather specified information from applicants each award year and to annually report this information, commencing on or before September 1, 2017, to the appropriate budget and fiscal committees of the Legislature.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: YES   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) Park access, outdoor education, and outdoor recreational experiences are important to the health and well-being of all California citizens as well as the continuing stewardship of our natural resources. Many California communities, however, lack equitable access to parks and other open-space areas. This lack of access to the outdoors contributes to higher incidences of certain health ailments, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and nature deficit disorder, and other negative social indicators, especially in low-income communities.
(2) According to the recent Parks Forward Commission report, released in February 2015, improving access to parks, outdoor experiences, and recreational opportunities, particularly for youth and young adults in disadvantaged communities, will lead to more healthy lifestyles, better educational outcomes, and improvements to the overall well-being of California citizens, California’s citizens and communities, and as well as our natural environment.
(3) The Legislature enacted Chapter 663 of the Statutes of 2003, which 2003 established the Outdoor Environmental Education Program and required a study on the benefits of outdoor environmental education for at-risk youth and underserved demographic groups. The study found that the science test scores of children who participated in the program were raised by 27 percent, and that these children also had improved conflict resolution and problem solving skills, better self-esteem, and were more motivated to learn. The program ended on July 1, 2005.
(4) The Legislature enacted Resolution Chapter 101 of the Statutes of 2006, which 2006 recognized the importance of local recreational and park agencies in the effort to reverse negative trends in inactivity, obesity, diabetes, and other health problems among Californians and encouraged the state to use, and partner with, local recreation and park providers to create a healthier state.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to expand access to parks and other outdoor educational and recreational opportunities in underserved areas by, among other things, convening and developing strategic partnerships to facilitate, promote, and enhance access to parks, as well as outdoor educational and recreational experiences in underserved communities.

SEC. 2.

 Chapter 14 (commencing with Section 5880) is added to Division 5 of the Public Resources Code, to read:
CHAPTER  14. Outdoor Environmental Education and Recreation Grants Program

5880.
 (a) On or before March 30, 2016, the department director shall establish an Outdoor Environmental Education and Recreation Grants Program to increase the ability of underserved and at-risk populations to participate in outdoor recreation and educational experiences by awarding grants to public organizations, including local governments and local education agencies, nonprofit organizations, or both.
(b) In developing the grant program, the director shall do both of the following:
(1) Develop criteria and procedures criteria, procedures, and accountability measures as may be necessary to implement the grant program.
(2) Administer the grant program to ensure that priority is given to underserved populations, including both urban and rural areas and low-income communities where participation in an outdoor environmental education and recreation program programs has been limited.
(c) The director may develop an advisory task force composed comprised of public, private, nonprofit, academic, and other entities and individuals to assist in the development of the grant program, including representatives of the California Environmental Education Interagency Network.
(d) The director shall give priority for funding to an outdoor environmental education and recreation program programs that primarily serves provide outreach to and serve students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, foster youth, or pupils of limited English proficiency, as defined in Section 42238.01 of the Education Code, and has at least have one or more of the following attributes:
(1) Demonstrates Demonstrate partnerships between public, private, and nonprofit entities.
(2) Contributes Contribute to healthy lifestyles, sound nutritional habits, and improved outdoor educational and recreational experiences.
(3) Maximizes Maximize the number of participants that can be served.
(4) Commits Commit in-kind resources.
(5) Has Have a curriculum that is aligned to the science content standards for California public schools adopted by the State Board of Education.
(6) Fosters Foster stewardship of the environment and includes, include when available, curriculum established pursuant to Part 4 (commencing with Section 71300) of Division 34.
(7) Integrates Integrate instruction in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
(8) Includes Include service learning and community outreach components for purposes of building partnerships between participants and local communities.
(e) Reverted and unencumbered funds from the California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002 may be appropriated by the Legislature for the purpose of this chapter, if consistent with the requirements of the California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002. To the extent that grants may be awarded from those funds, they shall be awarded only to programs that meet all of the criteria specified in Section 5095.4.
(f) The director may also accept private donations made for the support of the program. The director may solicit and accept private funding to help supplement offset the costs of the program. These funding sources may include, but are not limited to, foundations, corporate funding, crowdfunding resources, donation drives, or any other funding sources that may be available.
(g) All moneys received pursuant to subdivisions (e) and (f) for the purpose of this program shall be deposited in the California Youth Outdoor Education Account, which is hereby created within the State Park and Recreation Fund. Notwithstanding Section 13340 of the Government Code, moneys in the California Youth Outdoor Education Account shall be continuously appropriated to the department for the purposes of this chapter.
(h) (1) The department shall gather information from applicants each award year for purposes of evaluating the effectiveness of outdoor environmental education and recreation programs in achieving the objectives of the grant program. The department shall annually summarize and report this information for the previous award year, commencing on or before September 1, 2017, to the appropriate budget and fiscal committees of the Legislature. The information in the annual report shall include the total number of children served, the total number and types of entities that received grant awards, appropriate recommendations to improve the grant program, partnerships formed, educational objectives achieved, the total number of applications received, and the total number of children who would have been served had all applicants for the award year received grant awards.
(2) A report pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.

SEC. 3.

 Section 5095.4 of the Public Resources Code is amended to read:

5095.4.
 (a) The director, in consultation with the State Department of Education, shall develop a competitive grant program to assist state parks, state conservancies in existence as of January 1, 2003, urbanized and heavily urbanized local agencies, and community-based organizations within those jurisdictions, working in collaboration, to provide outdoor educational opportunities to children.
(1) Applicant entities shall provide a 25-percent matching contribution in community resources. The matching contributions may be in the form of money, including funds from other state or local assistance programs, gifts of real property, equipment, and consumable supplies, volunteer services, free or reduced-cost use of land, facilities, or equipment, and bequests and income from wills, estates, and trusts. The department may establish findings for hardships to waive the matching requirement when an applicant cannot meet the requirement.
(2) The department may give additional consideration to applicant entities collaborating with other entities, including, but not limited to, school districts, faith-based groups, and others providing outreach programs to identify and attract urbanized youth most in need of organized, constructive recreational activities.
(b) The department shall make one-third of any funds appropriated for the purposes of this chapter available to give special priority to providing increased access for elementary schoolage children in grades 2 to 8, inclusive, to conservancy or state, community, and regional park properties, including public properties within the coastal zone, and, in addition, shall give priority, in awarding a grant pursuant to this section, to all of the following:
(1) Programs that use curriculum tied to the science content standards and science framework adopted by the State Board of Education.
(2) Applicants that serve children with family incomes below the statewide average, based on the most recent figures computed and established by the Department of Finance.
(3) Applicants that provide access to children who are underserved or lack access to parks or other outdoor venues suitable to conduct appropriate environmental education instruction.
(4) Applicants that have developed working collaboratives to develop environmental education partnerships.
(5) Applicants working in collaboration with local educational agencies to identify those children lacking adequate opportunities to access outdoor environmental education curriculum or innovative or alternative recreation programming.
(c) The amount of a grant awarded pursuant to this section may not be less than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) or more than two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000). A grant may be expended for any of the following purposes:
(1) Staffing that is directly associated with the programming.
(2) Staff training or development directly associated with the programming.
(3) Costs associated with transporting youth between a community or school and the proposed environmental education venue.
(4) Medical insurance for the participants, only if the insurance is a requirement pursuant to the activity.
(5) Operational costs, such as the rental equipment, food, and supplies.
(6) Applicants that can demonstrate that the administrative costs associated with this activity will not exceed more than 7.5 percent of the amount of the grant.
(d) The department may gather information from the applicants as to the effectiveness of these programs in meeting program objectives. The department shall summarize this information and report to the appropriate budget and fiscal committees of both houses of the Legislature as to the number of children served, the educational objectives met, and the level of demand.
(e) Applicant agencies may enter into contracts with other public agencies or entities to provide unique interpretive skills or to present authentic, curriculum-based programs in units of conservancy properties or state, community, or regional park systems for services not otherwise provided. The purpose of this subdivision is to authorize the applicants to provide programming services, equipment, and materials that assist in the curriculum program or provide educational activities that assist in the presentation of cultural traditions.