How to Support Organizations Working Toward a More Inclusive Outdoor Community

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We stand for racial equity. But we know that for many people and communities, being able to live safely and openly with equitable access to opportunities and a sense of belonging in the outdoors still isn’t a reality. 

We are challenging ourselves and our more than 19 million co-op members to do more: Listen, learn, reflect, speak up and act against racial injustice in the larger society as well as in the outdoors.  

For more than a decade, REI has partnered and collaborated with a wide range of organizations that support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) communities and strive for a more inclusive outdoors, including those listed belowThrough our partnerships, we have provided financial and in-kind support; co-hosted special events, workshops and trainings; amplified the work of the groups through films, articles and podcasts; and collaborated on major programs like #OptOutside and Hear Her Out.    

In response to current events highlighting hundreds of years of systemic racism and pervasive violence against the Black community, we are also donating to the National Urban League and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund—two historic civil rights organizations that work to fight injustice and inequality. 

We commit to continue working with our partners, employees and members and using our brand platform to advocate for greater racial equity and inclusion in the outdoors and across American society more broadlyWe also recognize that BIPOC communities often face additional discrimination when they are also part of other marginalized groups. That’s one of the reasons we’re committed to advancing equity for women, LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities and others that face barriers to belonging. 

Together, each of us can help create a more just outdoor community and society. Advocating for change, listening to others, contributing your time, talent or moneyor finding your community by joining their programs are all great ways to be involved. Learn more about some of the organizations that we partner with, their programs and their mission, and ways you can support themHere are a few examples of the groups we support.  

 

Black Girls Do Bike

The group grows and supports a community of women of color who share a passion for cycling. Black Girls Do Bike champions efforts to introduce the joy of cycling to all women, but especially women and girls of color. Support Black Girls Do Bike here.

Read more about founder Monica Garrison in this feature on Four Forces of Nature.

Black Girls RUN!

In 2009, Black Girls RUN! was created in an effort to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the Black community and provide encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners. Its mission is to encourage and motivate Black women to make fitness and healthy living a priority. Support the Black Girls RUN! Foundation here.

Read more about Black Girls RUN! Ambassadors Aprille Moore and Millie Anderson in this feature about outdoorswomen.  

GirlTrek

The public health nonprofit encourages African American women and girls to use walking as a practical first step to inspire healthy living, families and communities. Nearly 100,000 neighborhood walkers are part of the GirlTrek community. Its goal is to pioneer a health movement for African American women and girls grounded in civil rights history and principles through walking campaigns, community leadership and health advocacy. Support GirlTrek here.

Read more about how the group honored Harriet Tubman by walking 100 miles along the Underground Railroad.

Inclusive Woods & Us

The aim of Inclusive Woods and Us is to increase equitable access to the outdoors for children, families and communities of people of color in lower socioeconomic standing as a way to improve the physical, mental and spiritual health of vulnerable populations. Support Inclusive Woods and Us here.

Outdoor Afro

Outdoor Afro celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. The national nonprofit helps people take better care of themselves, their communities and the planet. It also connects thousands of people to outdoor experiences, who are changing the face of conservation. Support Outdoor Afro here.

Listen to Outdoor Afro co-founder and CEO Rue Mapp, who is featured on this Wild Ideas Worth Living podcast. Or read the transcript.

Read more about how Outdoor Afro connects participants to the outdoors and to Black history.

The Outdoor Journal Tour

The Outdoor Journal Tour is a hybrid health organization that combines the healing tenets of outdoor activity with mindful meditation and introspective journaling. It aims to empower women through mindfulness in the outdoors, while facilitating personal alignment and growth. The Outdoor Journal Tour is also home to #wehiketoheal, a multicity wellness experience that merges mindfulness with movement. Support The Outdoor Journal Tour here and donate here.

Listen to this She Explores podcast episode with Kenya and Michelle Jackson-Saulters, co-founders of Outdoor Journal Tour and #wehiketoheal.

Refuge Outdoor Festival

Refuge Outdoor Festival celebrates diversity, nature and life. The three-day camping experience is geared toward people of color and allies are welcome. It’s centered on building community through outdoor recreation, community conversations, music and art that appeal to a diverse and inclusive audience. Support Refuge Outdoor Festival here.

Hear from Refuge Outdoor Festival Founder Chevon Powell in this Outside Voices podcast episode.

Soul Trak Outdoors

Soul Trak Outdoors is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that connects communities of color to outdoor spaces while also building a coalition of diverse outdoor leaders. Its mission is to build diverse cohorts of outdoor leaders, forge inclusive outdoor spaces, facilitate stronger outdoor communities for underrepresented groups, and use outdoor adventure as a catalyst for creating new stewards of public lands. Learn how to support Soul Trak Outdoors here.

Bearings Bike Shop 

The nonprofit organization works with young people to help them leverage their inner strengths, build self-confidence, gain valuable employability skills, capitalize on opportunities, and achieve their individual goals. Bearings empowers youth as they develop into leaders with purpose, character, and confidence, poised to successfully enter the workforce.  Support Bearings Bike Shop here. 

The Brown Ascenders

A nonprofit organization created for and by climbers of color, the group’s goal is to increase accessibility of outdoor spaces, outdoor-related education and recreation for BIPOC adults and youths, while cultivating outlets for community, representation and growth. Support Brown Ascenders here.

Brown Girls Climb 

Brown Girls Climb is a small Women of Color owned and operated company with the mission to promote and increase visibility of diversity in climbing by establishing a community of climbers of color, encouraging leadership opportunities for self-identified women climbers of color, and by creating inclusive opportunities to climb and explore for underrepresented communities. 

Read more about Brown Girls Climb here. 

Center for Native American Youth 

A program of the Aspen Institute, they believe all Native American youth should lead full and healthy lives, have equal access to opportunity, and draw strength from their culture and one another. They do this through youth recognition, inspiration and leadership; research, advocacy and policy change; serving as a national resource exchange; and by building a Native-youth driven narrative. Support CNAY here. 

Center for Nature and Health at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland 

The Center for Nature and Health improves health and health equity through increasing access to nature. The center conducts original research relating to nature and health and promotes interdisciplinary relationships in order to take patients into nature for health. 

Read more about the Center for Nature and Health’s research here. 

Children & Nature Network 

The nonprofit organization is leading a movement to increase equitable access to nature so that children—and natural places—can thrive. Children & Nature Network invests in leadership and communities through sharing evidence-based resources, scaling innovative solutions and driving policy change. Support the Children & Nature Network here. 

Read more about how the network creates bridges to the outdoors here. 

First Alaskans Institute 

This nonprofit organization helps develop the capacities of Alaska Native people and their communities to meet the social, economic and educational challenges of the future, while fostering positive relationships among all segments of our society. The Institute does this through community engagement, information and research, collaboration and leadership development. Support First Alaskans Institute here. 

Fresh Tracks

Fresh Tracks is an outdoors initiative for youth that was inspired in 2015 by a call from President Obama for bold new programs that use the outdoors to broaden horizons for young Americans facing persistent opportunity gaps. It provides “young Indigenous, rural and urban diverse leaders with cross-cultural community power building, leadership development, civic engagement and action training.” In spring 2020, it officially joined the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions team.  

Friends of Momentum Bike Clubs 

Momentum Bike Club works with youths age 10 to 18 to promote exercise and healthy peer and mentor relationships. Founded in 2010, the organization is premised on the belief that youth and caregivers thrive when living in inclusive and supportive communities. Become a partner of Friends of Momentum Bike Clubs here. 

Hispanic Access Foundation 

The Hispanic Access Foundation improves the lives of Hispanics in the U.S. and promotes civic engagement by educating, motivating and helping them access trustworthy support systemsSupport the Hispanic Access Foundation here.  

Latino Outdoors

This Latinx-led organization works to create a national community of leaders in conservation and outdoor education. It aims to inspire, connect and engage Latino communities in the outdoors and embrace cultura y familia as part of the outdoor narrative. Support Latino Outdoors here.

Read more from Latino Outdoors founder José González.

Minority Veterans of America (MVA)

Minority Veterans of America is a nonprofit that works to create community belonging and advance equity for minority veterans, and whose vision is to create a just world that empowers minority veterans: veterans of color, womxn, LGBTQ and religious minorities. Support MVA here.

National Parks Conservation Association—LA Young Leaders Council  

The LA Young Leaders Council engages young people from urban areas, underserved neighborhoods, immigrant communities and communities of color. The Council connects people to the outdoors that have historically been underrepresented in the outdoor recreation spaces. Support the work of the Council here. 

National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Regional Center—Detroit Leadership and Environmental Education Program

The Detroit Leadership and Environmental Education program uses a project-based, outdoor environmental curriculum to help high school students connect with nature, build a more sustainable community and prepare for future success in their academic and career endeavors. Through DLEEP and other efforts in Detroit, NWF Regional Lakes aims to cultivate the next generation of conservation and environmental leadership, inclusive of urban communities too often excluded in leadership. This is vital because these communities have far too often been on the front line, first impacted by pollution, climate change and environmental racism. Support National Wildlife Federation—Regional Lakes Center here.

Native Womens Wilderness

This organization aims to inspire and raise the voices of Native Women in the outdoors and encourage a healthy lifestyle grounded in the wilderness. The mission of Native Womens Wilderness is to educate Natives and non-Natives on the rich beauty and heritage of the Ancestral Lands beneath our feet. Support Native Womens Wilderness here.

Outward Bound Adventures Diverse Outdoor Leaders Institute

The institute provides meaningful nature-based education that promotes positive self-development, environmental responsibility and outdoor career pathways for urban youth of color.

People for Mobility Justice

People for Mobility Justice is a BIPOC collective that works in mobility and transportation. It encourages a world where people have the freedom and resources to move in public spaces with love and dignity. Support People for Mobility Justice here.

Pride Foundation

Pride Foundation fuels transformational movements to advance equity and justice for LGBTQ+ people in all communities across the Pacific Northwest. Pride Foundation centers racial equity in what it does because the struggles for LGBTQ+ equity and racial equity are fundamentally interconnected.  

Rocking the Boat

Rocking the Boat empowers young people from the South Bronx in New York City to develop self-confidence, set ambitious goals and gain the skills necessary to achieve them. Students work together to build wooden boats, learn to row and sail, and restore local urban waterways, revitalizing their community while creating better lives for themselves. Support Rocking the Boat here.

Rogue Climate

Founded in 2013, Rogue Climate’s mission is to empower Southern Oregon communities most impacted by climate change, including low-income, rural, youth, and communities of color, to win climate justice by organizing for clean energy, sustainable jobs and a healthy environment. Support Rogue Climate here.

Vamos Outdoors Project

Vamos Outdoors Project works to connect families to environmental education opportunities through fundraising, outreach and partnerships with local organizations. The organization works to eliminate barriers to access that make it harder for Latinx and English Language Learner families to participate in outdoor, recreational and environmental education activities in Whatcom County, Washington. Support Vamos Outdoors Project here.

West Town Bikes

This youth development organization offers programs that use bikes as a tool for positive transformation. West Town Bikes empowers Chicago youth of all abilities and circumstances to build stronger, healthier communities. Respecting their diversity in culture, identity and opinion, the organization develops creativity, self-sufficiency and economic opportunity through hands-on education and business development. Support West Town Bikes here.

YMCA Bold & Gold

The Y’s Boys and Girls Outdoor Leadership Development (BOLD/GOLD) program offers youth (6th-12th grade) from different economic and racial/ethnic backgrounds, the opportunity to team up and participate in wilderness expeditions that develop confidence, decision-making skills and community awareness. The program ranges from weekend excursions to multiweek expeditions that inspire leadership and friendship in youth as they learn the power of the outdoors. Support Bold & Gold here.

Read a feature about the Girls Outdoor Leadership Development program here.

Young Women Empowered (Y-WE)

Y-WE cultivates the power of diverse young women to be creative leaders and courageous changemakers through transformative programs within a collaborative community of belonging. The organization envisions a society rooted in social justice, where all young women live their truth, achieve their dreams and change our world. Support Y-WE here.

52 Hike Challenge

The 52 Hike Challenge is a global movement inspiring individuals to take a personal journey to discover the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional benefits gained through hiking once a week for an entire year. As a female Latinx founded company, we are inclusive of all races, genders and orientations. We have inspired hundreds of thousands of people around the world to change their lives in a positive way, one step at a time. Support 52 Hike Challenge here.

 


We will continue to add to this article with relevant updates from our partners. 

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