The Land Trust Alliance has long recognized the connection between land conservation and public health and wellness. The belief that land can help people, places and communities thrive is a foundational principle of land conservation and the work of many people who dedicate their lives to saving land for future generations. To be strong and durable, land conservation must be inclusive and serve a broad range of community needs. People with disabilities have the same desire to enjoy nature and reap its health and well-being benefits as people without disabilities. Land trusts are taking hold of an opportunity today to provide better access for all, recognizing approximately 1 out of every 4 adults in the U.S. lives with disability.

To support land trusts to adopt inclusive practices that benefit people with disabilities, the Land Trust Alliance collaborated with the Lakeshore Foundation and the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability to create the Partnership for Inclusive Health.

Partnerships for Disability Access, Inclusion and Leadership Grant

Grant applications due April 5

The Land Trust Alliance and the Council for Inclusive Health and Disabilities have partnered with Disabled Hikers, a leading organization in the disability and outdoors space, to co-create a new grant program.

Disabled Hikers is an entirely Disabled-led organization. Its mission is to build disability community and justice in the outdoors, towards a vision of an outdoors culture that is transformed by access, representation and justice for disabled and all other marginalized people. It celebrates disabled people’s experiences in the outdoors; facilitate those experiences through resources and events and advocate for access and justice. Disabled Hikers will provide mentorship and technical support to the grantee cohort throughout the grant cycle.

The Alliance has secured funding to deliver a grant program for land trust members working in partnership with disability communities or organizations led by or serving disabled people. The goal of this grant program is to advance accessibility, inclusion and belonging for disabled people through partnerships, relationship and trust building and co-creation of programs and services. Grantees will receive funding, participate in virtual peer convenings and receive mentorship and technical assistance from Disabled Hikers and the Alliance’s Council on Inclusive Health and Disabilities.

For the purposes of this grant program, "disabled people” refer to individuals who experience ongoing oppression related to existing in a world that is designed for and dominated by non-disabled people.

The grant period is May 2024 – April 2025. Grant awards are expected to be $10,000 - $15,000 per project. Applications requesting less than $10,000 will be considered, and applications requesting more than $15,000 will be considered but during the grant selection process, grant reviewers may suggest partial funding.

  • Relationship and trust building with disabled people in the communities within your service area or organization partners led by and serving disabled people.

  • Planning for or implementation of programs and services designed with and for disabled people.

  • Proposals should go beyond compliance with accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or other disability rights laws. While these have been important legal foundations for accessibility, they do not meet the needs of all disabled people, nor do they capture the creativity and innovation needed to create meaningful accessibility for all.

  • Proposals may include accessibility devices and equipmentor facilities improvements (e.g. signage) as they strategically advance relationship and trust building, or have been identified through collaborative planning with disabled people.


Open to All: A Disability Inclusion Guide for Land Trusts

In late 2020, the Land Trust Alliance surveyed its land trust members on their experiences with people with disabilities, and on access and inclusion issues. The survey showed that both the need and will to make programs more accessible are there, but that land trusts were looking for “guidelines and/or best practices for inclusion” and “examples of inclusion efforts from other land trusts.”

Created in 2021, Open to All: A Disability Inclusion Guide for Land Trusts provides concrete steps to expand a land trust’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts with an emphasis on people with disabilities. As requested, this includes examples, advice and guidelines to help your land trust address and remove the barriers that prevent inclusion of people with disabilities in your programs and on your nature preserves.

By the time you finish reading this guide, we hope you will understand the principles of inclusion that you can integrate personally and professionally, with the knowledge that nature is for everyone.

Land Trust Alliance Advisory Council on Inclusive Health and Disabilities

The Partnership formed the Land Trust Alliance Advisory Council on Inclusive Health and Disabilities, which includes leaders from various disability sectors and the conservation community. The Council amplifies the voices, knowledge and lived experience of leaders in the inclusive health and disability sectors and builds the capacity of the Alliance and its members to design and implement successful community-centered conservation models.

Read a letter from the Council

Thank you to the Council

Special thanks to Land Trust Alliance Advisory Council on Inclusive Health and Disabilities:

  • Chrissy Beardsley Allen, associate director of development and operations, Blue Hill Heritage Trust (ME)

  • Peter Doehring, founder, Kennett Ability Network

  • Henrietta Jordan, land trust consultant; former director, Vermont center for independent living (NY)

  • Chris Mackey, information specialist, National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), Lakeshore Foundation 

  • Bonnie Lewkowicz, program manager, Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program (CA)

  • MaryKay O'Donnell, Midwest senior program manager, Land Trust Alliance