Project Outside

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**Update** The next round of Project Outside funding will open late summer 2023.

Since August 2020 our community has raised $150,000 and issued 24 grants to regional projects ranging from trail building tools to river access points. If you use the region’s trails, rivers, lakes, and parks, please make a donation to Project Outside.

The Roanoke Outside Foundation has been working to support the outdoors for more than a decade and we need your help to take it to the next level.

We’ve proved we’re an outdoor community. We’ve shown the value in promoting an area’s natural assets to those looking to relocate their businesses as well as people looking for active outdoor vacations.

Our community has listened. They’ve jumped in feet first and have grown to be incredibly proud to live in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Now is the time to capitalize on this regional pride – while everyone is eager to get out and explore more than ever before – and invest in the bigger picture.

What if we could build an in-river kayak park or bike park?
What if we could quickly repair damaged trails or greenways?
Or add parking facilities in high-use areas?
Or build or improve river access points?
Or improve signage on trails and waterways?
Or measure new trail builds in weeks, not months or years?
Or support outdoor businesses struggling because of COVID-19?
Or create programs for equitable access to the outdoors? 

Project Outside is a community fund created by businesses, governments, and individuals to support outdoor capital improvement projects, maintain key outdoor assets, and help launch and support businesses in the outdoor sector.

Project Outside is a partnership between the Roanoke Outside Foundation and local land managers (i.e. local governments, ATC, NPS, etc.) of identified regional outdoor assets. Project Outside funds will be used to fill maintenance funding gaps in projects or initiatives and pool resources to tackle large-scale outdoor infrastructure projects. 

Project Outside is designed to help ensure that outdoor assets remain in top condition for residents and visitors.

Since its creation in 2020, Project Outside has awarded $150,000 to 24 different regional projects that benefit the outdoor community.

But, we’re not done. 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. Support the great outdoors by donating to Project Outside.

Why Do We Need Project Outside?

COVID-19 has created the greatest economic and health crisis of our time and a quote attributed to Albert Einstein points the way to recovery for the Roanoke region: “In the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity.”

So where is the great opportunity? Look around. In our mountains, greenways, waterways, and trails lies the opportunity for the Roanoke Region to gain momentum in economic recovery.

With the U.S. population projected to increase 79 million people by 2060, what will a sustainable, pandemic-ready region look like? Stressed infrastructure, crowded parks, poor air quality, and the prohibitive cost of living? Or scenic greenways, hassle-free commutes, open space, clean air, miles of trails and river, and affordable housing coupled with government and business leaders that incorporate post-pandemic thinking and planning?

Over the past several years, local outdoor recreation areas have seen up to a 200% increase in usage. While it seems that we should be celebrating the fact that more people in our region are getting outside and enjoying all the natural assets we’ve worked so hard to promote, it’s actually generating a lot of sudden, unanticipated wear and tear on our already over-taxed resources. Parks, rivers, greenways, and public spaces don’t bounce back on their own and unfortunately, our region isn’t currently investing in these areas at a rate that will allow us to capitalize on our community strength.

A 2018 study by Roanoke Outside, “Roanoke Region Outdoor Impact, Infrastructure, and Investment Study” identified opportunities for improvement, enhancement, and trouble spots. The key area of concern, echoed by local land managers, was adequate funding for maintenance of key regional outdoor assets – to ensure they aren’t loved to death. (Download the PDF.)

Contribute to the Campaign

For the price of a few granola bars each month, you can help maintain trails, river access points, and more.


Project Outside Corporate Supporters

Learn more about corporate support. Contact Pete.


What regional outdoor assets are eligible for funding?

The Roanoke Outside Advisory Council chose these  outdoor assets to focus on: Appalachian Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Carvins Cove, James River, National Forest Service trails, Roanoke River, Jackson River, Mill Mountain, Jackson River Scenic Trail, Explore Park, Smith Mountain Lake, Roanoke River Greenway, Philpott Lake, Waid Park, Rivers Edge Park, and Green Hill Park. Projects must be located in the Roanoke MSA.

How were the regional outdoor assets chosen?

To define an asset as regional the Roanoke Outside Advisory Council – which is comprised of regional stakeholders (local governments and land managers), business owners, club leaders, and non-profit partners from throughout the region – used a blind scoring system that looked at whether an asset is located in multiple jurisdictions, is marketed by tourism organizations, attracts users from a wide area, has unmet needs and funding for maintenance or improvements, supports private business endeavors, can contribute to economic impact, and is not adequately represented in an existing capital improvement plan.

What can Project Outside do?

  • Hire professional trail crews for expedited building and maintenance of trails 
  • Build in-river kayak parks
  • Provide funding for unforeseen/unbudgeted maintenance of key assets 
  • Assist with unfunded capital projects (e.g. parts of Explore Park master plan) 
  • Create programs to improve equitable access to the outdoors 
  • Improve and create new river access points 
  • Create more camping closer to urban cores 
  • Facilitate outdoor art projects 
  • Provide grants to outdoor businesses for programs, events, or training 
  • Build new outdoor assets (e.g. complete Morningside Bike Park) 

How will projects be chosen?

The public will be invited to submit project ideas to the Roanoke Outside Foundation Advisory Council. The Advisory Council will evaluate submissions and using a blind scorecard allocate available funds to projects that have demonstrated the highest and most immediate need and ability to be completed in a timely manner. 

Is a donation tax-deductible?

A donation that receives no benefit in exchange is 100 percent tax-deductible. If the donor receives benefits (sponsor recognition, signage, etc.), then their tax deduction would be reduced by the fair market value of the benefits received.

How can a business support Project Outside?

A business can become a one-time sponsor as we kick-off Project Outside or you can double down and show your commitment to the outdoors by becoming an annual contributor to Project Outside. Annual membership options are in development and will include both financial and in-kind support options as well as custom options such as donating a percentage of gross sales during a month. Contact us to discuss in more detail. 

How can my business leverage Project Outside?

Businesses will receive a Business Toolkit which will include a Project Outside Partner logo and marketing resources.

Will businesses and individuals be able to provide ongoing support to Project Outside?

Yes. We are developing membership opportunities and will provide updates as they become available.

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