How Public Lands Gives Back

Photo: Acoma Pueblo Traditional Farm Corps

Here’s how the Public Lands Fund works to protect and preserve our greatest shared outdoor resources, who it serves and why it exists.

Public Lands’ mission is to celebrate and protect public lands for all. They work together to leave a lasting impact in local communities and those that define the 640 million acres of public lands. Public Lands is a member of 1% for the Planet, and donates a full 1% of all its sales (based on purchase price) to the Public Lands Fund. This 501(c)(3) charity, a program of The DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation, fuels a diverse suite of nonprofit organizations that are actively protecting public lands, and increasing access & equity in the outdoors. 

The Fund’s goal, says Carla Fox, Public Lands Corporate Responsibility Manager, is to provide financial support to organizations making a real impact on that intersection of public lands conservation and both access to and equity within the outdoors. That support is layered to help organizations working at different levels: the national level; the grassroots level in local communities; and the critical-landscape level in areas of iconic value facing existential threats, such as Bears Ears National Monument and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

“Ultimately, the number of organizations doesn’t matter as much as the impact,” says Fox, “we recognize that the outdoors hasn’t historically been a diverse and accessible place for all but that is starting to change, and conservation doesn’t succeed unless everyone, especially at the local level is involved.”

What exactly does that impact look like?

Take the Conservation Lands Foundation, which used 2021 partnership funds to support ecological restoration efforts and educational programming in New Mexico via the Acoma Pueblo Traditional Farm Corps of the Indigenous-led Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps (a member of CLF’s Friends Grassroots Network). The programming helps keep traditional land practices alive while providing the community (especially youth participants) with paths forward in leadership roles—not to mention healthy, fresh vegetables. And as CLF points out, teaching sustainable techniques honed by generations of local Indigenous farmers is more relevant than ever in a drought-beleaguered region. 

The Public Lands Fund also is a Pinnacle-level member of the Conservation Alliance, an organization that harnesses the power of business to fund and advocate for the protection of North America’s wild places via critical grants to grassroots conservation organizations nationwide. Pinnacle members like The Public Lands Fund contribute $100,000 annually for CA to invest carefully in vetted projects based on their biological diversity, success history, political viability, and benefits to people and wildlife. It also increases outdoor recreation opportunities and helps provide climate change solutions.

To support more families and children in getting outside safely, The Public Lands Fund began supporting Outdoor Afro’s Making Waves program that provides Swimmerships (swim lesson scholarships) to Black children. Outdoor Afro established this program because Black youth drown in swimming pools at a rate more than six times that of white children, due largely to decades of segregation and exclusion from public pools and beaches.

On the local levels, the Allegheny Land Trust leveraged Public Lands Fund support to continue its transformation of the Churchill Valley Greenway (east of Pittsburgh) from a formerly blighted property into an invaluable community and environmental asset to be forever preserved, free and open to all. The Greenway has provided access to greenspace in an area where there previously wasn’t any for nearby residents. 

Meanwhile, in Virginia, the Rivanna Conservation Alliance is conserving the Rivanna River in Virginia and its tributaries through water quality monitoring, restoration, education and advocacy. The Public Lands Fund is supporting the group’s programs increasing access and exposure to paddling, through free paddling events serving 60 underserved youth & free community paddling events supporting 90 local residents in experiencing paddling for the first time

Acoma Pueblo Traditional Farm Corps Crew Photo: Acoma Pueblo Traditional Farm Corps

See below for additional current Public Lands Fund grantees and learn more at

Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition

Mission: A consortium of the sovereign Hopi, Navajo, Ute Indian, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni tribes working to advance Indigenous perspectives and ways of stewardship in the collaborative management of Bears Ears National Monument (BENM). Now, following President Biden’s restoration of the BENM in October 2021, the BEITC supports the Bears Ears Commission, which will position tribes equitably in the design, planning, and implementation of co-management and will promote reciprocal knowledge-sharing within and between Indigenous communities and with federal and state land management agencies.

The Honnold Foundation

Mission: Advancing solar energy access to reduce environmental impact and increase social and economic equity.  

The Trust for Public Land 

Mission: Creating parks and community greenspaces, preserving land to create healthy, livable communities for generations to come.

Alaska Wilderness League 

Mission: Protecting Alaska’s public lands by advocating for and acting in support of biodiversity, wilderness, Indigenous communities, and cleaner energy.

First Waves Pittsburgh

Mission: Empowering underserved Pittsburgh youth with SUP skills and opportunities and educational workshops that create a basis for healthy and active lifestyles, watershed conservation, education in the art of filmmaking, and diversity in outdoors recreation.  

Green Columbus

Mission: Promoting sustainable living, environmental education, and community involvement in Columbus, Ohio.


Mission: Serving Charlottesville, Albemarle, and surrounding areas in Virginia with by promoting nature play for health and happiness through a natural area that provides recreation, learning, public play days, summer camps and more

Wild Virginia

Mission: Protecting and connecting Virginia’s wild places through improving habitat connectivity and ensuring all waterways are fully protected in accordance with the law.

C5 Georgia

Mission: Providing leadership development to teens in under resourced communities through camps and outdoor experiences.

Charlottesville Community Bikes

Mission: Charlottesville Community Bikes believes bicycles can be a means to social change and promotes environmentally-sound transportation, recycles bicycles, and makes biking accessible to all in Charlottesville, VA. .


Mission: Using bikes to bring together people and like-minded community organizations, in order to maximize the opportunity for real and lasting change in both individual’s lives and entire communities.

Elevate Youth

Mission: Empowering youth to explore the outdoors alongside mentors, sharing awe and the richness of our natural world.

Friends of the Lower Olentangey Watershed (FLOW)

Mission: To keep the Olentangy River in Pennsylvania and its tributaries clean and safe for all to enjoy, through public education, volunteer activities, and coordination with local decision-makers.

KS Wild

Mission: Protecting and restoring wild nature in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southwest Oregon and northwest California. They promote science-based land and water conservation through policy and community action.

North Shore Land Alliance

Mission: Conserving and stewarding Long Island’s natural and historic lands, waters and environmental resources and connects people to nature while inspiring a community conservation ethic through education, outreach and volunteerism.


Mission: Enhancing young people's appreciation of the outdoors, fosters a greater sense of community, and delivers programs that teach the connection between peope and planet.

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing

Mission: Dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing, education and outings.

Sudbury Valley Trustees

Mission: Protecting natural areas and farmland around the Sudbury, Assabet and Concord Rivers in MA. The Public Lands Fund is supporting SVT in building wetlands crossings that link two nearby trails in a safe and mindful way.

The Waterfront Center

Mission: Providing access to the waters of Oyster Bay Harbor and Long Island Sound through marine education programs, recreational and instructional sailing programs, paddleboard, kayak and sailboat rentals, and through harbor tours aboard the National Historic Landmark oyster sloop CHRISTEEN.

Save the Boundary Waters

Mission: A national movement to permanently protect the Boundary Waters Wilderness Watershed from sulfide-ore copper mining.

Outdoor Inclusion Coalition

Mission: Bringing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to outdoor spaces for both the current and future generations.

Friends of Metro Parks 

Mission: Enhancing public use and enjoyment of Columbus, OH Metro Parks through public engagement and advocacy.

Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW)

Mission: Keeping the Olentangy River in Pennsylvania and its tributaries clean and safe for all to enjoy, through public education, volunteer activities, and coordination with local decision-makers.

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.