Lexington, Ky. – US Equestrian is pleased to announce the USEF Community Outreach Organizations initiative, a new program dedicated to supporting equestrian centers and equine-based organizations. Its mission is to increase under-represented and/or under-served communities’ access to horses and horse sports. This two-phase initiative aligns with the implementation of the Community Riding Center Grants Program and Opportunity Fund strategy outlined in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan.
Phase 1: USEF Community Outreach Organizations Program
The first phase of this initiative is the launch of the USEF Community Outreach Organizations Program. The program offers organizations that provide equine-based learning opportunities and support the positive impact horses can have within their local communities to be featured in a directory on the USEF website and have the ability to apply for USEF Opportunity Fund grants. These organizations must meet certain standards of horse and human welfare, and they must offer their services for free or on a sliding scale of fees based on financial need. Organizations must apply and be accepted for inclusion in the USEF Community Outreach Organizations Program.
Community Outreach Organizations will gain access to numerous benefits, including free USEF Fan Memberships, access to the Interscholastic Athlete Program, and opportunities for promotion on USEF’s website and print, digital, and social media channels. USEF will also assist in connecting Community Outreach Organizations with our national network of industry professionals, officials, competition organizers, sponsors, affiliates, education partners, athletes, and members. The most notable benefit to organizations included in the Program is eligibility to submit grant requests through the USEF Opportunity Fund.
Learn more about the benefits available to organizations included in the USEF Community Outreach Organizations Program.
Phase 2: USEF Opportunity Fund
The USEF Opportunity Fund, the second phase of the DEI Action Plan's Community Riding Center Grants Program and Opportunity Fund strategy, is a grant-making resource available exclusively to organizations listed on the Community Outreach Organizations Program directory. The fund was first announced in June 2021 and 100% of funds collected will be dedicated to supporting these community outreach organizations. Grants will be awarded through a competitive application process beginning in 2022. More information about this process will be announced later this year.
USEF is committed to supporting these organizations through grant opportunities because they encourage more people to get involved with horses and embody our vision of bringing the joy of horse sports to as many people as possible. In January 2021, the US Equestrian Board of Directors made a significant statement by voting to contribute $50,000 to kick-start the Opportunity Fund, with funds available beginning in 2022. Shop USEF contributed additional funds in June, thanks to the generous contributions of profits from the Pride Collection sales. Individuals can also make online donations here.
US Equestrian will continue fundraising for the USEF Opportunity Fund through corporate sponsorships, member donations, product purchases through the upcoming Inclusion Collection on Shop USEF, and other fundraising initiatives.
For more information about USEF Opportunity Fund sponsorship opportunities, please contact Layson Griffin, Director of Sponsorship, at [email protected].
How to Join the USEF Community Outreach Organizations Program
Interested organizations must apply to be included in the USEF Community Outreach Organizations Program using a digital application form available here beginning Thursday, July 15. Please review the eligibility requirements prior to submitting an application.
The application period will open on July 15, 2021, and close on September 15, 2021. Applications must be submitted on or before September 15, 2021. Organizations will be notified of their acceptance to the USEF Community Outreach Organizations Program by October 30, 2021.
Applicants will need to respond to questions pertaining to horse and human welfare standards, as well as provide information explaining how their program fills a gap in the horse industry for under-represented and/or under-served people in their community. Additional information about eligibility criteria is available here.
A Review Committee comprised of USEF volunteers, executive staff, and athletes will review applications quarterly to assess whether all requirements have been met before organizations are accepted into the Program. The next application period will open on November 15, 2021.
Please direct any questions about the Community Outreach Organizations initiative and application process to Ashley Swift, Affiliate and Communications Specialist, at [email protected].