New $500,000 Force of Nature Fund supports 26 non-profits across the country that are creating opportunities to connect women and girls to nature. Photo credit: ATTA/Kristen Gill Photography
As part of its commitment to create access to the outdoors for all, REI has invested more than $1 million in organizations that ensure women are equally inspired and equipped to embrace a life outside.
Through REI’s Force of Nature fund, about $500,000 has been invested in Camber Outdoors, GirlTrek and the YMCA’s GOLD initiative and another $500,000 will support 26 more organizations that applied through the co-op’s first open grant call. REI looked for innovative programs that utilized the outdoors to empower and inspire women and girls.
In May, REI launched an expansive, consumer-facing effort called Force of Nature to advance gender equity in the outdoors and encourage millions of its members to embrace the outdoors as “the world’s largest level playing field.” As part of the effort, REI committed $500,000 to three national, women-focused nonprofits with whom it already had a relationship, including Camber Outdoors ($400,000), GirlTrek ($50,000) and the YMCA’s GOLD initiative ($50K). It also launched the $500,000 Force of Nature Fund, which extends the co-op’s existing work with women-focused nonprofits into new territory.
Twenty-six nonprofits were selected from over 500 organizations that responded to REI’s open call for submissions. Those 26 investments will help address obstacles the co-op found in a national study it commissioned on women and the outdoors.
“We believe a life outdoors is a life well lived for all. That means we support equality from the backcountry to the boardroom,” says Jerry Stritzke, REI’s president and CEO.
“REI works with hundreds of nonprofits annually to help communities connect with the outdoors, and protect the places we love. A core part of our business model links the co-op’s health to investments in the outdoor community. As we thrive, we share this success. This year, with Force of Nature, we added a specific focus on groups that are creating new and inspiring ways to advance gender equity and inclusion using the outdoors as a platform. The Force of Nature Fund helped us identify hundreds of organizations doing incredible work, and we’re proud to partner with our new grantees to learn and be inspired.”
REI selected 26 nonprofit organizations to receive grants totaling $500,000. Awards were based on the fund’s eligibility criteria. Grants range from $5,000 to $25,000.
This investment is part of REI’s broader community investment strategy, which contributed more than $9M in 2017 to nonprofits at the heart of the outdoor community. Since 1976, REI has invested more than $80 million to steward our nation’s public lands, trails, and waterways, and to promote youth development, health and wellness in the outdoors. REI continues to support these efforts through invitation-only grants. For more information, visit: https://www.rei.com/stewardship/creating-access.
About the REI Co-op
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 16 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 150 stores in 36 states. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI-Garage or the free REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. You can take the trip of a lifetime with REI Adventures, a global leader in active adventure travel that runs more than 170 custom-designed itineraries worldwide. The REI Outdoor School is run by professionally-trained, expert-instructors who teach beginner- to advanced-level courses about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.