Healthy. Natural. Affordable.
These are the foundations of Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO). And this is what ECHO is designed to accomplish:
All young children in Colorado have daily access to quality outdoor learning environments where play and learning support development across all domains— cognitive, physical, social, and emotional.
ECHO is based on a decade of research by North Carolina State University’s Natural Learning Initiative on the Preventing Obesity by Design model. This research showed that by improving the design of outdoor spaces through affordable interventions and training early childhood professionals, young children and early childhood programs enjoy substantial benefits:
ECHO is a partnership between The National Wildlife Federation, North Carolina State University’s Natural Learning Initiative, and Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance. Click here to learn more.
There are various ways to become involved with ECHO. Details are outlined below. Please note, if you meet the eligibility criteria to become a Demonstration Site or a Seed Grant Site, you may apply to both. However, you are only allowed to receive one of the opportunities. In addition, if you are applying as a licensed child care center or preschool, you can not apply as a publicly accessible site serving Family, Friend, and Neighbor child care, and vice versa. Sites that receive an ECHO grant are not eligible to receive additional ECHO grant funds in the future. However, if you apply and are not selected to receive funding during the current grant cycle, we encourage you to reapply.
ECHO demonstration sites are leaders in outdoor play across Colorado. Demonstration sites are role models for high quality and natural outdoor learning environments. Demonstration sites host annual professional development for early childhood professionals to learn how to design outdoor spaces and engage children in outdoor play. Demonstration sites can be licensed child care center, preschools or publicly accessible spaces. See ECHO Stories to learn more about current Demonstration Sites.
When applications are available, typically for-profit and non-profit licensed child care centers and preschools serving children under the age of five that meet the following minimum criteria are eligible to become ECHO Demonstration sites:
ECHO seed sites are licensed child care programs, preschools or publicly accessible sites that have committed to improving the quality of their outdoor spaces that embrace natural elements. Seed sites are clustered around existing demonstration sites to create a shared network of learning. Seed sites engage in professional development in partnership with demonstration sites to continue to learn best practice in outdoor spaces and how to engage children in play outdoors.
When applications are available, typically for-profit and non-profit licensed child care centers and preschools serving children under the age of five that meet the following minimum criteria are eligible to apply.
Preference is given to programs that serve vulnerable families and children, which can be demonstrated by meeting any of the following criteria:
In an effort to ensure ECHO reaches all young children in Colorado, we encourage community sites such as community centers, nature centers, publicly accessible parks, libraries, or community playgrounds to apply to be either a demonstration site or seed site. Programs and locations that provide outdoor space that is regularly used by zero-to five-year-old children cared for by Family, Friend, and Neighbor caregivers are welcome to apply.
When applications are available, publicly accessible sites that serve or attract families with young children are eligible to apply to become an ECHO site if they meet the following minimum criteria:
Preference will be given to sites that:
While family child care providers are not eligible to become demonstration or seed sites, free training and incentives are available for family care providers to participate in ECHO. Sponsored event registration, supported travel costs, substitute coverage and implementation grants are ways we are seeking to engage family child care providers. Family child care providers are encouraged to review the ECHO training registration pages for specific details on how to become involved.
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