2 Summit locals named to state board overseeing outdoor equity funding
Two Summit County locals were named to a state-level board that will oversee a grant program that aims to make the outdoors more accessible. The board held its first meeting on Dec. 2.
The Colorado Outdoor Equity Grant Program Fund was created through Colorado House Bill 21-1318 with the purpose of increasing access to underserved youth and their families to the state’s open spaces, state parks, public lands and more. With the creation of this fund came a board to oversee it.
Edwin Alan Coleman, the human resources and equity director at the Keystone Science School, was appointed to a four-year role on the board to represent his experience in and working with the LGBTQ community. Jon Kreamelmeyer, a long-time local and former Paralympic Nordic ski coach, was also appointed to a four-year role for his experience in accessible outdoor programming for those with disabilities.
“The state Legislature earmarked millions of dollars to dedicate to equity work in the outdoor space, and the idea is that folks with awesome ideas for equity initiatives in the outdoors would be able to apply to the grant program, and this board would be making the decisions on how to allocate those funds,” Coleman said.
The funding comes from redistributed state revenue from lottery proceeds, with $750,00 going to the fund for the 2020-21 fiscal year and $1.5 million going to the fund for the 2021-22 fiscal year.
While the board hasn’t seen any applications for funding this early on, Coleman said he sees the program funding anything from research on barriers to inclusivity to community programs designed for low-income populations or first-time outdoor adventurers. Regardless, he said he hopes programs will be sustainable and address long-term hurdles to accessibility.
Kreamelmeyer said he was impressed by the other members of the board despite not previously knowing anyone, and he is looking forward to seeing the work it will accomplish. He said he doesn’t see himself representing Summit County alone, rather the whole state.
“I look at it as how we can best provide access to those who need it, regardless of where they live.” Kreamelmeyer said. “… How can someone in inner-city or rural America have the opportunity to go skiing? That’s where I’m coming from.”
Coleman thinks Summit County is interesting because the outdoor experience is such a common part of life in the area, but he said there is also a swath of the population who doesn’t have the same access to these opportunities. He said Keystone Science School likes to do what it can to improve this, and that this grant program can only further that work should local organizations apply for and receive funding.
“I think that it’s often the perception that nature is free and is open to everyone, when really there are folks living here who don’t get to experience what it’s like to ski fresh powder or even go on an amazing hike due to potential … gear cost issues or transportation,” Coleman said.
Coleman also wants to see more ways to be inclusive of people who are having outdoor experiences for the first time, too.
Kreamelmeyer recently had his right leg amputated, increasing his personal connection to accessibility in the outdoors. He said he is looking forward to learning about the different opportunities and needs that this board can contribute to.
“It looks like a way that I might be able to give back, because now I’m experiencing it rather than trying to understand it,” Kreamelmeyer said.
Coleman said he is also looking forward to learning about what is going on in other regions of the state when it comes to outdoor equity, as well as opportunities that can be brought back to Keystone Science School to support the county.
“I want my seat in some way to represent Summit County’s commitment to really thinking about — quite critically thinking about — equity issues in the outdoors,” Coleman said. “Being from Summit County, I want to make sure that folks in our area are aware that someone like me is on this board and will be advocating for this work on a state level.”
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