At Propeller, serving our local communities has been a focus since our founding. Community is core to our culture. We’re committed to giving back to the communities we live and work in with time, strategic thinking, and support for nonprofit partners. Through our Uplift program, we leverage our people's business acumen and problem-solving skills to support nonprofit organizations.
As we approach the end of the year, a time that many of us focus on giving, we reached out to a few of our Uplift partners to learn more about their mission, the work they’re doing, and what seasonal giving means to them. Today, we’re featuring a conversation with Bryan Martin, the Executive Director at Outdoor Lab Foundation in Wheat Ridge, CO.
Q: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us! Can you tell us about the mission of Outdoor Lab and your role within the organization?
The Outdoor Lab Foundation’s mission is to inspire community support for, and advocate on behalf of, Jefferson County Public Schools Outdoor Lab Program. We work in partnership with the school district to ensure every sixth-grade student can access a week-long residential camp. We manage two mountain campuses west of Denver which host approximately 100 students per week. Over the course of a school year, we host 5,500 sixth graders and an additional 1,000 high school students.
Q: Where can the community see your team’s work in action?
We’re based in Jefferson County Colorado which is part of the West Denver Metro Area. “Jeffco” is the second-largest school district in the state. One mountain campus is 500 acres near Evergreen, CO, and is bordered by the Arapaho Roosevelt National Forest. The other campus is 300 acres near Bailey, CO and borders the Pike National Forest, and is a stone’s throw from the 500-mile Colorado Trail.
Q: We’d love to hear about a program you’re particularly proud of.
Our largest strategic investment is in our Tuition Assistance Program. We work with the school district to ensure Outdoor Lab is as low cost as possible for the students participating. Even still, sometimes the fees the schools assign to attend the program can be a hardship for families (typically between $150-$300). We believe that the ability to pay the fee should not be a barrier to participation. Therefore, we have established a Tuition Assistance Fund to help pay student fees as needed. Over the past two school years, we have delivered $400,000 in grants to 35 middle schools to help students and families afford Outdoor Lab.
Q: We know many nonprofits are supported by individual donors. Can you tell us the impact seasonal giving has on Outdoor Lab?
Individual donations are absolutely essential to our ability to achieve our mission. Building a base of support from generous and consistent individual donors ensures we remain effective each year while also allowing us to plan confidently for the future. Individual donations go toward our four strategic initiatives – the Tuition Assistance Program, the High School Leader Program, the Intern Program, and our Site Support Program. You can learn more about each program by visiting our website.
Q: Anything else you think our readers should know?
Over the past year, we completed 57 week-long camps, served 35 middle schools, provided over 15,000 nights under the stars, recruited over 900 high school leaders, and supported 40 interns on campus. In total, we served over 5,000 students connecting them – often for the first time – to the outdoors. In total, students hiked over 48,000 miles and were engaged in experiential learning through over 24,000 program days.
While at Outdoor Lab, students develop self-confidence, self-efficacy, autonomy, and leadership. Moreover, environmental education has proven to emphasize skills essential for succeeding in tomorrow’s world, such as questioning, investigating, defining problems, developing conclusions, and identifying solutions. It also supports cooperative learning, critical thinking, and discussion, and focuses learners on action strategies with real-world applications.
Serving our local communities has been a focus since our founding. This commitment to community and corporate responsibility reflects the shared values of our employees. Through our Uplift program, our people can do good work in their communities and make a lasting impact by leveraging their business acumen and problem-solving skills to support nonprofit partners. We uplift organizations through pro bono strategy, professional development, and direct service.
We’re always seeking ways to engage with our local communities. Whether you need help solving a complex problem with pro bono project support, seek volunteers for a project or event, or would benefit from brief mentorship — the Uplift team is devoted to supporting our communities. Reach out to the Uplift team to learn more.