Equity & OSI

Land Conservation Should Benefit Everyone

Regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, ability, socioeconomic background, or sexual orientation, everyone should have equal access to the benefits of nature.

At the Open Space Institute, we know that people’s access to land and the outdoors has not always been equitable, and so embracing, celebrating, and uplifting diversity and inclusion is fundamental to our organization to create safe and welcoming open spaces for everyone. That is why we foster belonging in the outdoors, recognize the importance of historically significant lands, and empower nonprofits and young leaders through partnerships within many local communities.

After all, everyone has a stake in the protection of our natural places and keeping the land we love and need healthy for the next generation.

OSI Equity Values

The Open Space Institute will improve how open spaces will be managed to accommodate increased demand for natural spaces, provide ecological services necessary for community wellbeing, and benefit an ever-evolving constituency.

  • We seek out different perspectives to help build an inclusive conservation movement.
  • We embrace diversity to accomplish the mission of conservation for all people.
  • We promote a culture of institutional integrity, collaboration, and honesty, and one that inspires enjoyment and fulfillment in the workplace.

OSI’s Indigenous Land Acknowledgement Statement

All land holds a history. The land that the Open Space Institute protects today throughout the eastern United States and Canada holds a long and tragic legacy, including forced removal, genocide and loss of culture perpetuated against Native American and Indigenous people and theft of their land. We recognize that Native American and Indigenous people are the original stewards of these lands, and we honor their right to sovereignty and self-determination.

We are committed to building enduring partnerships with Indigenous tribes, and respecting their cultures, knowledge, and interests. By actively integrating equity into the foundation of our work, the Open Space Institute is taking steps to promote, create, and sustain a more just future for all.

Image Credit: Steve Aaron

Creating Safe Open Spaces

Fostering Belonging in the Outdoors

Everyone should have access to the transformative and restorative benefits of nature. OSI works to foster belonging in the outdoors by:

The 2021 recipients of the OSI Conservation Diversity Fellowship are Sydney Williams (left) and Neeyati Johnson.
The 2021 recipients of the OSI Conservation Diversity Fellowship are Sydney Williams (left) and Neeyati Johnson.
  • Implementing the groundbreaking Conservation Diversity Fellowship, designed to change the future face of conservation. It immerses recent college graduates and members of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community in the various components of conservation, from transactions and land stewardship to advocacy and grant writing.
  • Administering OSI's Citizen Action Program, which over 40 years has mentored, trained, and launched nearly 150 grassroots start-ups in New York City and beyond. These organizations include Black Urban Growers and Christopher Park Alliance, which is dedicated to stewarding the park across from the Stonewall Inn, where the historic rebellion for LGBTQ+ rights took place in 1969.
  • Managing the Malcolm Gordon Charitable Fund, to support Hudson River Valley organizations to develop environmental education projects and programs to make nature and the outdoors more available and welcoming to all people.
  • Administering the Barnabas McHenry Hudson River Valley Awards, to promote exceptional young leaders in the fields of environmental conservation, historic preservation, environmental justice, the arts, and tourism.

What You Can Do

Donate to support OSI’s work

Become a part of our mission to safeguard at-risk places through your tax-deductible gift.


Subscribe to our newsletter

We get in touch once a month with our most important news, stories, and updates.