10 More Projects Earn Project Outside Grants

Project Outside grant image

Project Outside is distributing an additional $50,000 in grant funding to 10 projects throughout the Roanoke Region thanks to donations from corporate partners and individuals.

Building upon the $100,000 raised in 2020 (which funded 14 projects already completed), this year’s Project Outside grants will fund 10 projects including tools for volunteer trail workers, tree plantings, bridge and trail repairs, a regional trail building workshop, expansion of a popular James River access parking lot, a mountain bike skills development facility, and continued support of outdoor programs for underserved youth. Grant applications totaled more than $145,000 in funding requests.

“The outdoors is integral to the region’s narrative and economic development strategy,” said Pete Eshelman, director of Roanoke Outside Foundation. “The goal of Project Outside is to invest in our community’s competitive advantage, the outdoors. Grants will be used to fund needed projects that will make an immediate impact in the community by the end of 2022.”

Project Outside, which launched in August 2020, is a first of its kind campaign to fund the maintenance and development of outdoor assets and support outdoor-related businesses and initiatives. The Roanoke Outside Foundation administers the grants that break down into three categories: maintenance, new infrastructure, and organization support.

“We have been thrilled with what the Roanoke Outside has accomplished with the Project Outside grants” says Brian McCahill, president of Pathfinders for Greenways. “Pathfinders along with many other trail and outdoor groups have been able to give more back to the community using these grants. We can supplement our normal donations with extra grant money to provide more effective tools to our trail volunteers, allowing us to work more efficiently and safely.  We all know the importance of having the right tools for the job.  With these grants, Project Outside has allowed us to motivate our volunteers with helpful tools and accelerate our trail work.”

Grant recipients evaluated by the Roanoke Outside Foundation Advisory Council, which used a blind scorecard to allocate available funds to projects that demonstrated the highest and most immediate need and ability to be completed in a timely manner.

“We are thrilled to be receiving a grant award” said Jo Nelson with Total Action for Progress. “This grant helps at-risk youth from the Roanoke City area experience the beauty of nature that surrounds us. Many of our students have never had the opportunity to explore the Blude Ridge Parkway, Appalachian Trail, or other natural settings that many of us take for granted. That experience is, in some cases, transformational.”

2022 Project Outside grant recipients:

  • Botetourt County Parks and Recreation: $7250 to expand and increase parking at the Alpine public access point on the James River in Buchanan. Scheduled to be completed by the end of the summer.
  • Trees Roanoke: $1000 to remove dead and dying trees along the Roanoke River Greenway and replace with new ones. Scheduled to be completed by this fall.
  • Humble Hustle: $4699 to expand the Humble Hikes program and increase capacity by hiring part-time staff to continue offering monthly outdoor programming to underserved youth. The program is already up and running.
  • Blue Ridge Off-Road Cyclists: $5000 to conduct a regional trail maintenance workshop focused on ongoing maintenance needs at Explore Park while expanding the pool of qualified volunteers throughout the region. Set to happen in late April, early May. Date TBD.
  • Pathfinders for Greenways: $1700 to purchase tools needed for trail building and maintenance. Tools will be purchased now through the fall.
  • Total Action of Progress: $3563 to continue Project Discovery, an outdoor club to connect underserved youth with the outdoors. Program is already underway.
  • Roanoke Mountain Adventures: $5250 to build a public mountain bike skills development facility along the Roanoke River Greenway in Vic Thomas Park. Scheduled to be completed by September.
  • Alleghany Highlands Trail Club: $7300 to rehabilitate 10 miles of North Mountain Trail. Work will begin in April and continue through December.
  • Franklin County Parks and Recreation: $9238 to replace rotten boards on a bridge in Waid Park that spans the Pigg River. Scheduled to be completed by June.
  • Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club: $5000 to repair the McAfee Knob fire road, used as a secondary trail to/from McAfee Knob but also for rescues. The repairs have already been completed.

This is our time to invest in our community strength – the outdoors – to continue positioning the Roanoke Region as a preferred place to live, work, play, and visit. Contributions can still be made, show your support for the great outdoors.