About

Steve Hagler is….

I am passionate about kids and the outdoors, in particular, the transformation that takes place when you mix effective youth development approaches and outdoor education. For the past eight years this passion guided my approach to grantmaking and the design of strategic initiatives that sought to bring funding to essential programs and to address systemic barriers that keep youth from getting outdoors. I bring to my work four areas of focus: nonprofit, philanthropy, outdoor education and youth development.

Thinking Outside is about the intersection of my worlds — where the outdoors and youth development meet. I want to help create and implement life changing programs, and to help them get the organizational and financial support they need to thrive. I bring a unique perspective that incorporates my experiences in the classroom,  nonprofits, foundations and boards.


Nonprofit | Philanthropy | Outdoor Education | Youth Development

Effective Grantmaking and Funding

Foundation for Youth Investment (FYI)

  • Founder and executive director
  • Organizational vision and implementation
  • Developed 501(c)3 application to the IRS
  • Recruited and engaged new board members
  • Guided and developed fund development strategic plan
  • Hired and managed fund development team
  • Conducted listening sessions of stakeholders, to identifying key field-wide barriers that keep kids indoors and common challenges to the field of outdoor/environmental education providers
  • Implemented strategic initiatives that addressed the fields most common challenges.

Youth Investment Program of the Stewardship Council

  • First youth program staff member
  • Created grantmaking program including vision, goals, objectives and guidelines from the ground up
  • Guided internal and external grant review panels
  • Recommended more than $13 million in grant awards to more than 180 organizations throughout Central and Northern California
  • 300,000 youth connected to the outdoors

Program Vision and Implementation

Outdoor Educators Institute (OEI) 

  • 3-month workforce development instructor training program for the outdoor field. 
  • Brought together collaborative effort by outdoor provider organizations
  • Taught hard skills to soft skills to rising young instructors from diverse backgrounds.
  • OEI is changing the face of the outdoor provider field staff.

Cultural Relevancy Initiative

  • Addressed demographic issues facing outdoor provider organizations
  • Published report as a result of state-wide community listening sessions 
  • Created pilot programs with regional focus and approaches to address cultural relevancy issues facing the outdoor provider field
  • Established a proactive approach to address the shifting demographics of California in a positive way
  • Helped organizations and their programs become more relevant to the changing communities and youth they serve

Transportation Fund

  • Established in partnership with the Environmental Education Funders Collaborative (EEFC) and created as leveraged fund
  • Provides up to $500 to teachers in low-income schools to take pupils on a field trip to  an outdoor or environmental education activity
  • Addressed the most often cited barrier to getting low-income students into outdoor and environmental education programs
  • Pilot program managed by Environmental Volunteers

.Native American Youth Best Practices 

  • Designed to help programs working with Native youth to design, share and deliver best practices in getting our Native youth outdoors and into their cultural heritage.
  • Created and managed by Native Americans and their youth
  • Created an advisory council to guide the work and to disseminate best practices

Alternative Education

Founder and Teacher, SFUSD Experiential and Outdoor Education Programs

  • 15 years in the SFUSD as front line educator
  • Three key roles: traditional classroom teacher in English Language Learning, founder of two alternative programs targeting struggling students, and in risk management
  • Founder, GOAPe (at Galileo Academy) and Get Out and Learn (GO&L). GO&L is still operating at Downtown HS in San Francisco
  • GOAPe and GO&L used experiential education and youth development methodologies to teach and engage struggling youth
  • Pograms increased attendance, attitude, and opportunity for its high school students to graduate, obtain a GED or to get job training
  • Revised and passed through school board, outdoor and experiential education field trip protocols in the aftermath of a tragic accident in the outdoors

Community Engagement (Current)

  • Board Member Outward Bound California, Vice-President and Chair of Program and Risk Management Committee
  • Volunteer, Friends of Rossi Park San Francisco
  • Parent Representative, School Site Council, Roosevelt Middle School, SFUSD

Educational Background

Masters of Education, San Francisco State University

Secondary Education Credential in Social Science, Language Development Specialist, San Francisco State University

Bachelor of Arts, United States History, University of California, Berkeley

Environmental Educators Training Program, Certificate of Completion, Headlands Institute

Wilderness First Responder, Wilderness Medicine Institute

Contact me at stevehagler[at]thinkingoutside.org

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