The REI Foundation focuses on getting more young people into nature, with an emphasis on connecting youth of diverse backgrounds. Through this work, The REI Foundation’s goal is to help create the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts and environmental stewards. The REI Foundation researches and invites grant proposals connected to its mission; it does not accept unsolicited proposals.
The REI Foundation is a private corporate foundation funded and operated by REI. In 2012, The Foundation added a new board seat for a member of the REI board of directors. As a separate nonprofit entity, The Foundation files a federal 990 disclosure each year which details expenses, grant making and other operating details. The 2011 990 disclosure is the most recent and is available here.
You can learn more about The REI Foundation at the REI in the Community pages of our website.
In 2012, The REI Foundation gave grants totaling $275,000 to the following nonprofit organizations:
Outdoor Foundation – $100,000. The Outdoor Foundation is the nonprofit established by Outdoor Industry Association to inspire and grow future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. The REI Foundation’s contribution will, in part, support youth Summits throughout the country in 2013. The grant is a continuation of support for Outdoor Nation (ON) made at the end of 2011, which allowed the organization to hold three “Signature Youth Summits” in Los Angles, Austin and Boston in 2012. In addition, the funds supported five intensive training summits in New York City, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver and San Francisco providing youth leaders with skills to support and launch community-based programs to engage youth in the outdoors. Lastly, The REI Foundation helped to support a National Youth Congress in Washington, D.C. The combined summits brought together more than 1,600 youth leaders. A small grant program underwritten by Outdoor Nation supporters also provided seed funding for youth working on community-based projects.
Children & Nature Network - $75,000. The REI Foundation made a grant in support of the Children & Nature Networks Natural Leaders Network Legacy Initiative. The initiative equips young, diverse, community leaders with outings skills and community leadership training to effectively move their communities outside in nature, for the health and well-being of children, their families, their communities and nature itself. The REI Foundation grant helped support the Natural Leaders Legacy Camp in the fall of 2012, which brought youth leaders from 30 communities and three countries (Puerto Rico, Australia, and Canada) together to learn how to be leaders in their communities for the cause of connecting youth people to nature. In addition to training and mentoring, youth leaders accepted into the camp agreed to conduct a set of activities upon returning to their home communities to connect young people to the outdoors.
The YMCA of the USA - $50,000. In support of the YMCA's efforts to grow and replicate their Boys/Girls Outdoor Leadership Development (BOLD/GOLD) program, The REI Foundation is making a three-year funding commitment of $50,000 per year. In 2012, the organization built organizational support and capacity to prepare for expanding the program.
The Mountaineers – $50,000. The Seattle Mountaineers received a Mary Anderson Legacy Grant, an annual recognition of a nonprofit that actively engages young people in learning about nature through hands-on engagement and discovery of the outdoors. The funding will continue the work begun in 2011 in The Mountaineers’ Youth and Family Initiative, which includes a suite of youth offerings to bring more young people from the Puget Sound to enjoy the outdoors, The grant is named after REI co-founder Mary Anderson and is given annually to a group working to connect young people to nature.
Additionally, in 2012, the first year of support of Latino USA’s “RadioNature” feature program concluded. Underwritten by The REI Foundation, and produced by the nonprofit Futuro Media Group, RadioNature produced 16 diverse segments in 2011 and 2012 that reported on the relationship that the Latino community and individuals enjoy with nature and its stewardship. In addition to the program segments, a joint clean-up of the Bronx River brought together storytelling with hands on engagement in the outdoors. Latino USA is heard across the country on a large number of NPR stations.
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