A shovel laying in dirt next to a newly planted tree

REI Co-op continues its commitment to the outdoors, announces 2020 grant partners

Co-op’s annual investment will support vital stewardship work and connect people to the outdoors

Aug 24, 2020

SEATTLE – REI Co-op today announced its 2020 grant partners, an investment that will total more than $6 million and touch more than 400 nonprofit partners this year. Funds in 2020 will support stewardship work to build and maintain local trails, parks, campgrounds and public lands, and connect people to the outdoors. 


This year’s co-op investment comes as local trails, parks and campgrounds are seeing increased use as Americans seek adventure closer to home and enjoy activities that are conducive to physical distancing, amid the COVID-19 outbreak. According to a recent KOA study on travel, 47% of people who had a previously planned trip now plan to camp instead, and another by Civic Science found that 43% of Americans over the age of 13 said they’d be doing more outdoor activities due to the COVID-19 social distancing rules.  

“Taking care of the outdoors is more important than ever as many of our favorite parks, trails and wilderness areas are seeing more and more use,” said Marc Berejka, REI director of community and government affairs, and REI Foundation board president. “As we continue to look to these outdoor spaces for health and solace in these challenging times, it’s important that we also give back.” 


Continuing support for local outdoor nonprofits 

In the 82 years since its founding, REI has prioritized stewardship of outdoor places and connecting people to the outdoors. Each year, the co-op invests millions in outdoor nonprofits that steward and maintain local outdoor places and that connect people to the outdoors. In 2019, REI surpassed more than $100 million invested in the outdoors since its founding, and in 2020 continues this investment by supporting more than 400 nonprofit partners including: 


  • Brown Ascenders in California’s Bay Area works to increase justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) within outdoor spaces, outdoor-related education and outdoor recreation for Black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) adults and youth, while cultivating outlets for community, representation, and growth, and while using climbing as their vehicle. ($6,000) 
  • Freshwater Land Trust in Birmingham, Alabama conserves, connects, and cares for land and water in Central Alabama, creating dynamic green spaces for future generations.  REI grant funds will help support the construction of the Jones Valley Trail Extension in downtown Birmingham. This section will link residents of all socioeconomic backgrounds and ages to the outdoors in an urbanized environment.  ($8,500) 
  • Friends of the Chicago River is working to holistically heal, transform, and renew the Chicago River system to make it a corridor of accessible and valued open space that will enable people to enjoy a continuous Chicago River trail. ($10,500) 


Investment in local nonprofits represents a portion of REI’s overall corporate giving. Additional grants are awarded throughout the year, including most recently, a $100,000 pledge to both the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund and the National Urban League. The co-op also has provided $100,000 to the American Hospital Association’s 100 Million Mask Challenge, and specifically to the HealthEquip platform which matches PPE donors to health organizations in the greatest need. 


Support on behalf of members using the REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard® 

In addition to its annual support of local outdoor nonprofits, the REI Foundation and REI Co-op also announced projects it will fund as part of its annual gift on behalf of its members using the REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard. In the last three years, this investment has focused on stewardship in National Forests and Grasslands. This year, funds will be allocated to the REI Foundation to support a more diverse set of initiatives including National Forests and Grasslands, National Scenic Trails, river cleanups, and rewilding efforts. Each year, REI invests up to $1 million in outdoor stewardship efforts on behalf of its members using the REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard. When REI cardholding members make a purchase, REI donates to stewardship efforts.* 


“National Forests will continue to be a large and important part of this effort but broadening the scope of this investment allows us to touch more of the places our members are passionate about,” Berejka said.  


This year’s support generated by credit card usage will go to 11 organizations including: 


  • The National Forest Foundation’s Treasured Landscapes, Unforgettable Experiences program. Funding provided to the NFF will support seven projects to restore and steward National Forests and Grasslands. Projects include tree planting in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in Georgia and restoring climbing routes along Cathedral Ledge in the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, among others. ($575,000) 
  • Support for the organizations that develop, preserve and promote and sustain National Scenic Trails. Funds this year will support the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Pacific Crest Trail Association, Continental Divide Trail Coalition and the North Country Trail Association. (Four grants, totaling $100,000) 
  • American Rivers’ National River Cleanup®(NRC) volunteer engagement program, which mobilizes thousands of river stewards to clean up rivers and waterways in all 50 states. ($40,000)
  • Continued support for the co-op’s rewilding projects in Chicago, Portland, Oregon, Washington, D.C. and along the East Coast Greenway. With 80% of the U.S. population living in cities, REI’s rewilding efforts are large, long-term projects that seek to reimagine the way city dwellers connect with the outdoors. (Five grants, totaling $285,000) 


* This year, REI will donate $0.10 per REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard purchase transaction made to the REI Foundation, up to $1 million. REI Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private charity that aims to: rewild cities and keep wild places wild; connect underrepresented groups to the outdoors; demonstrate nature’s health benefits; and advance climate action. Non-Purchase transactions, including cash advances, convenience checks, balance transfers, and other advance transactions as defined in the Cardmember Agreement, as well as interest charges and fees, do not qualify. Transactions posted in late December of the current year may be applied in the following year. REI may change the benefit or named charity in future years. REI is solely responsible for making the donation. 


The creditor and issuer of the REI Co-op Mastercard® is U.S. Bank National Association, pursuant to a license from Mastercard International Incorporated. 


© 2020 U.S. Bank 

© 2020 Recreational Equipment Incorporated. All rights reserved. 

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 23 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 188 locations in 42 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.comREI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company that runs more than 100 itineraries across the country. In many communities where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops 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.