REI Cooperative Action Fund celebrates first year with nearly $2 million in new investments in nonprofits
Donations from community, REI Co-op will support 34 organizations across the country
Nov 28, 2022
SEATTLE – The REI Cooperative Action Fund is announcing a new $1.98 million investment in 34 nonprofit organizations promoting justice, equity and belonging in the outdoors. This investment brings the Fund’s total giving to over $3.4 million this year. The Fund officially launched in 2021 and has so far received over 200,000 donations from REI customers, members, and employees, as well as REI Co-op, corporate partners, and foundations.
“Thanks to the generosity of the co-op community, we’ve been able to scale our impact, providing even more support to organizations leading this important work in their communities,” said Kristen Ragain, REI Cooperative Action Fund managing director. “Our approach centers trust, power sharing, and mutually accountable relationships with our partners. We look forward to continuing to accelerate the movement towards a more equitable, accessible, and inclusive outdoor culture.”
The Fund provides unrestricted funding in support of a nationwide network of nonprofit partners across three specific areas: connecting people outside, creating space outside, and centering health outside. The Fund announces new investments each year in the spring and fall. Earlier this year, the Fund invested $1.5 million in 23 nonprofit organizations. This most recent grantee community includes:
- All Out Adventures promotes health, community, and independence through outdoor recreation for people with disabilities and their loved ones throughout Massachusetts.
- Boyz N the Wood is building a network of brotherhood with the goal of creating healthier men and healthier communities through facilitated outdoor experiences, teaching new skills, developing accountability models, and connections to mental health resources.
- Brown Folks Fishing cultivates an angling community for Black, Indigenous, and people of color by reimagining fishing as a gateway to environmental justice.
- Catalyst Sports gives people living with disabilities access to the life-changing impact of adventure within a supportive and inclusive community.
- Center for Nature and Health at the University of California San Francisco is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the world's most vulnerable populations through access to nature.
- Cheyenne River Youth Project serves youth on the Cheyenne River Lakota Sioux reservation through programming that builds leadership, strengthens cultural connection, and improves youth commitment to wellness.
- Continental Divide Trail Coalition’s mission is to complete, promote, and protect the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) by building a diverse trail community, providing up to date information to the public, and encouraging the stewardship of the trail, its corridor, and surrounding landscapes.
- East Coast Greenway Alliance supports the East Coast Greenway, which connects 15 states and 450 cities and towns across 3,000 miles from Maine to Florida. The Greenway fosters a safe and walking biking route through the country’s most populated corridor.
- ELSO Inc. provides culturally-relevant STEAM programs that empower youth of color to Experience Life Science Outdoors through a lens that centers and elevates the stories, ways of knowing, individual needs, and lived experiences of Black and Brown communities.
- Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) cultivates a passion in science, leadership, and service in a diverse community of learners. ELK’s goals include cultivating and developing self-respect; promoting responsible use of Colorado’s natural resources; expanding educational outdoor experiences; and motivating youth interest in science careers.
- Friends of Anacostia Park (FoAP) enriches the lives of DC residents by preserving Anacostia Park and connecting surrounding communities to its redevelopment. As the official philanthropic partner of the National Park Service, FoAP also safeguards the health of the park ecosystem and its neighboring communities.
- Friends of Big Marsh supports Big Marsh, a 297-acre natural area and bike park on Chicago’s Southeast Side created through the leadership and activism of community residents who saved the area from becoming a landfill. Friends of Big Marsh supports the work of the Park District at Big Marsh through bike park development, fundraising, and community engagement.
- Friends of the Los Angeles River has endeavored for over 30 years to restore community connection and natural ecology as the unifying force on the River—educating, empowering, and mobilizing over 50,000 Angelenos to repair habitat and fight for the policies that will reclaim their collective right to a healthy, thriving, and equitably accessible Los Angeles River.
- Friends of the Rail Park (FRP) plans and advocates for the equitable development of The Rail Park to ensure a bold, transformative, and inclusive public space that connects Philadelphia’s residents and visitors to the city and each other.
- Great River Passage Conservancy leads the advocacy and fundraising efforts for three key capital projects along Saint Paul, Minnesota’s 17 miles of Mississippi River. The 1000-acre East Side River District is east of downtown, St. Paul, and will re-orient people to the great river by building environmental stewardship, community health, and economic development that create opportunities to experience the river in new and equitable ways.
- HBCUs Outside connects HBCU students to the natural world to become the leaders we need for a healthy planet and a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive outdoor industry.
- Hudson River Riders provides recreational access to the Hudson River for underserved communities to nurture the next generation of environmental stewards through kayaking, paddle-boarding, hiking, and camping.
- Indigenous Wellness Research Institute at the University of Washington is an environmentally and land-based healing center that recognizes that Indigenous groups have been intergenerationally impacted by land removal, environmental pollution, climate change, and the taking of traditional teachings, language, foods, spirituality, and medicine. The center seeks to co-design and conduct land-based health interventions with indigenous groups to build evidence of successful, outdoor practices by supporting revitalization of ancestral teachings and land practices.
- La Plazita Institute uses a comprehensive, and cultural approach designed around the Philosophy of “La Cultura Cura” (culture heals), to engage with youth, elders and communities to draw from their own roots and histories that express the core traditional values of respect, honor, love, and family.
- Native Like Water curates recreational experiences through an indigenous lens, focusing on conservation, coastal cultural practices, adventure, and leadership for improved wellness.
- Native Women's Wilderness Native Women’s Wilderness brings Native women together to share stories, support, and learn from one another as they endeavor to explore and celebrate the wilderness and native lands.
- Nature and Health at the University of Washington, a member organization of EarthLab at the University of Washington, seeks to understand the connections between nature and human health and well-being. It translates that understanding into programs, practices, policies, and the design of healthcare, educational, and community settings that benefit all people and nature.
- Nature and Human Health Alliance (website to come) seeks to create an international movement that develops, promotes, and implements nature-based health activities by forming collaborative arenas for diverse societal sectors to equitably engage, share ideas, and implement solutions that ensure nature accessibility for all.
- Nature and Human Health at the University of Utah seeks to foster critical links between nature and human health by providing a collaborative arena in which representatives of diverse societal sectors can equitably engage, share ideas, formulate actions, and implement solutions.
- Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project works to expand opportunities for communities to engage with and access public lands and waters in New Mexico and the borderlands.
- Outward Bound Adventures ensures that youth from diverse communities have access to nature, environmental education, leadership development, and preparation for careers in conservation.
- Queer Nature promotes place-based skills, critical naturalist knowledge, and ecological awareness and observation skills for 2SLGBTQIA+ folks and allies.
- San Francisco Park Alliance supports the Blue Greenway and its network of parks, trails, and open spaces. The goal is to provide active transportation routes between San Francisco’s eastern neighborhoods and the employment center of Mission Bay and downtown that will connect neighbors to their waterfront.
- SiiHasin Bike Program is a hub for outdoor bicycle recreation on the Navajo nation. The program emphasizes the importance of goal-setting, healthy lifestyles, and recognizing the positive effect of K’e (kinship).
- South River Watershed Alliance is committed to ecological restoration of the South River for the benefit of nature and people.
- Tennessee RiverLine is a vision for a 652-mile system of paddling, hiking, and biking trails along the length of the Tennessee River, as well as a place-based strategy for economic development, public health, resource stewardship, and equitable access benefits for 2.4 million people in Tennessee River communities.
- Washington Area Bicyclist Association supports the Capital Trails Coalition which is creating a world-class 302-mile network of multi-use trails throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region. The association is bringing regional stakeholders together to create an equitable and connected trail network that will transform public life by providing access to open space and reliable transportation for people of all ages and abilities.
- Wekesa Earth Center at the University of Maryland represents a collaborative effort of scholarship and recognition across multiple disciplines to promote equity, reconciliation, and healing in nature and build a world where every human being is granted their right to enjoy and experience the privileges of ancestral lands. Wekesa (meaning: harvest born) will generate nature-based research, honor transgressed communities of nature disenfranchisement, and use programs to advocate the restorative benefits of nature.
- Yellow Bird Life Ways nurtures the breath of life by reminding, reconnecting, and reclaiming land, language, culture, and identity. Yellow Bird seeks to address the intergenerational impacts of trauma to heal and strengthen generational hope, resilience, and wisdom.
The Fund is part of the co-op’s broader effort to advance racial equity, diversity and inclusion within REI and broader society. To advance this effort, REI created the Cooperative Action initiative, which harnesses the collective strength and size of the co-op's 21.5 million members and more than 16,000 employees, empowering them to fight for a more sustainable and equitable future for the planet and the people on it. REI invites everyone to participate in Cooperative Action by donating to the Fund, voicing their support for legislation that impacts the outdoors through the Cooperative Action Network, and reducing their carbon footprint by purchasing and trading in used gear.
As an independent, 501(c)(3) organization, the Fund is led by its own board of directors with the support of a dedicated staff and compensated community advisors. REI Co-op continues to provide ongoing support for the Fund’s operations and grantmaking. Anyone can participate in the Fund’s mission from direct donations to recommending a grantee. To learn more about the Fund’s impact, see the Fund’s annual report.
About the REI Cooperative Action Fund
The REI Cooperative Action Fund is a 501(c)(3) public charity founded in 2020 by REI Co-op to build a movement to promote justice, equity and belonging in the outdoors. The Fund aims to bring together millions of REI members, thousands of REI employees, and hundreds of nonprofit partners and community leaders to support organizations that are improving the well-being of all people through time outside. With ongoing support from REI Co-op, 100% of donations from the general public to the Fund go to the people and organizations leading this work in communities across the country.
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 21.5 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 179 locations in 42 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI 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.