Disney Conservation Fund: Nature for Everyone

Claire Martin

by , Senior Manager, Strategic Philanthropy, Disney Corporate Social Responsibility

We all hold the power to make an impact on the world around us, and Disney Conservation has always worked to provide opportunities for communities around the world to gain inspiration from the magic of nature and ignite a sense of personal stewardship to protect the world we share. Each of us can play a pivotal role in conservation, from our diverse voices and experiences to our backgrounds and talents – we each have the opportunity to take part in meaningful efforts to ensure both people and wildlife thrive.

We carry forward our commitment to protecting the magic of nature for everyone through grants made by the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF), supporting collaborations with organizations and people globally to connect communities with special places, from forests to wetlands and rivers to oceans.

One of these organizations is Outdoor Afro, which helps connect Black people to the outdoors by creating welcoming experiences that celebrate Black leadership, history and sustainable outdoor skills. Disney supports an effort called the Outdoor Afro Leadership Program to recruit, retain, and train Black men and women to be Outdoor Afro Leaders. In 2020, the Leadership team planned a year full of 1,000 adventures across 30 states. Their efforts engaged 40,000 people in-person and more than 100,000 people online. Each adventure offers a unique experience while highlighting exercise and health, skill-building, environmental education, history and other cultural themes.

DCF is also splashing into Outdoor Afro’s Making Waves Swimmership Program, which helps children and caregivers overcome barriers to positive swimming experiences, while also caring for the health and wellness of freshwater and marine ecosystems. This program teaches the life-saving skill of swimming and helps Black children to enjoy the water safely.

(Above) An Outdoor Afro group explores the great outdoors by kayak; To date, 170 youth and caretakers have been awarded Outdoor Afro Swimmership scholarship funds to help them learn to swim.

In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Disney Conservation Fund, we are also proud to have awarded a $1M gift to support the work of Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, through the Jane Goodall Institute and the Jane Goodall Legacy Foundation. Dr. Goodall’s work empowers young people to make positive change through the Roots & Shoots program, and to date has equipped young people in nearly 100 countries to be the next generation of conservation leaders. Disney has supported Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots to help young people around the world, from China to Argentina, and South Africa to the United States, make a meaningful difference for people and nature in their communities.

A Roots & Shoots family explores a pollinator garden in Argentina

A Roots & Shoots family explores a pollinator garden in Argentina

In our Central Florida community, Disney Cast Members from Disney Conservation Team Wildlife have worked with 3DE by Junior Achievement to engage 100+ students to create engaging communications plans to inspire their community to take action to help pollinators. In collaboration with programs like ELEVATE Orlando and the Disney Dreamers Academy, the team also hosted virtual presentations and served as mentors to empower young people to discover their potential and consider career opportunities in the fields of veterinary medicine, research and wildlife conservation.

Disney Conservation Program Manager, Rachel Smith, meets with Disney Dreamer participant to discuss her career aspirations

Disney Conservation Program Manager, Rachel Smith, meets with Disney Dreamer participant to discuss her career aspirations

As we wrap up Earth Month, we’re inspired by the people leading incredible efforts all around the world to ensure nature is and remains for everyone. We believe that together we can ensure that the great outdoors is a place where everyone feels that they belong. And for a little more nature inspiration, we’re excited to share a new Disney Conservation Activity Packet– full of fun activities to do together with the young people in your life to learn about amazing animals and how you can help to protect them.

Follow us on social media @DisneyConservation for inspiration throughout the year.