REI Cooperative Action Fund invests $4 million in nonprofits working to create a more equitable outdoors
Investment includes addition of 18 new partners to growing network of nonprofits
May 11, 2023
SEATTLE – The REI Cooperative Action Fund is announcing a $4 million investment in 40 nonprofit organizations collectively creating a more equitable outdoors. This investment includes the addition of 18 new organizations to the Fund’s growing nationwide network of nonprofit partners, as well as renewed support for 22 existing partners. As a community-supported nonprofit, the Fund is fueled by donations from REI Co-op, its customers, members, and employees, as well as corporate partners, and foundations. Since the Fund’s launch in 2021, more than 800,000 people have donated.
“This new investment is our largest to date, demonstrating the power of our community when we come together to make a positive impact,” said Kristen Ragain, REI Cooperative Action Fund managing director. “This generosity has allowed us to continue funding our existing partners, while engaging new organizations that strengthen the health and well-being of people and communities through time outside.”
The Fund exists to bring together the collective strength of the co-op community. The Fund announces new investments each year in the spring and the fall to provide unrestricted funding to nonprofit partners across three specific areas: connecting people outside, creating space outside, and centering health outside. New grantees are recommended in part by local REI employees, peer funders, the general public, and government organizations.
Connecting people outside
The Fund supports outdoor-focused organizations that are led by and serve Black, Indigenous and people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, women, and low-income communities. New grantees include:
- Bikes Not Bombs uses the bicycle as a vehicle for social change to achieve economic mobility for Black and other marginalized people in Boston and the Global South. (Boston, $100,000)
- Hike Clerb is equipping Black, Indigenous, women of color with the tools, education, resources and experiences they need to collectively heal in nature from Los Angeles and beyond. (Los Angeles, $100,000)
- Latinas en Bici exists to improve the social and physical well-being of Latinas through weekly bike rides and multicultural events. (Rogers, Arkansas; $100,000)
- River Newe promotes intergenerational learning experiences within Shoshone Bannock Traditional Knowledge and Teachings in their traditional spaces, places, wild landscapes and rivers through four values:honor, protect, restore, and heal. (Fort Hall Reservation, Idaho; $100,000)
Creating space outside
The Fund supports efforts to increase equitable access to outdoor spaces and recreation opportunities, with a specific focus on community-led solutions that bring environmental benefits closer to home for marginalized communities. New grantees include:
- Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps is a program of Conservation Legacy that leads Native American nations back to ecological and cultural well-being by engaging local Indigenous youth in conservation projects on public and ancestral lands. (Albuquerque, New Mexico; $100,000)
- Caracara Trails supports a vision for a 428-mile trail network that will link the natural, cultural, and historical resources of communities in the Rio Grande Valley, while promoting healthier lifestyles and generating community pride for everyone who lives there. (Brownsville, Texas; $100,000)
- Groundwork USA is a national network of environmental justice organizations that works hand-in-hand with marginalized communities to transform neglected land and waterways into community assets, like parks, trails, and community gardens, that meet their environmental, social, economic, and health priorities. (Harrison, New York; $100,000)
- Ohio River Way seeks to boost the health, stewardship, and economies of struggling communities along the Ohio River through outdoor recreation, education, and tourism. (Cincinnati, Ohio; $100,000)
- Rails to Trails supports the 3,700-mile cross-country Great American Rail Trail that will run from Washington state to Washington D.C. The project will support equitable and inclusive trails to 50 million Americans in 12 states across the country. (Washington, D.C.; $100,000)
- Ríos to Rivers inspires the protection of rivers worldwide by investing in underserved and Indigenous youth who are intimately connected to their local waters and support them in the development as the next generation of environmental stewards. (Aspen, Colorado; $100,000)
- The Singing River Trail will be a more than 200-mile greenway system that strengthens regional bonds, and creates new health and wellness, educational, economic, tourism, entrepreneurial, and workforce opportunities for the people and communities of North Alabama. (Huntsville, Alabama; $100,000)
Centering health outside
The Fund supports efforts to strengthen and amplify scientific research, and support Traditional Ecological Knowledge to demonstrate that time outside improves mental, physical and emotional health and well-being. New grantees include:
- Campus Nature Rx is a coalition of over 50 colleges and universities dedicated to supporting campus mental and physical health through inclusive and equitable nature engagement programming, trainings, communications, and research. (Ithaca, New York; $150,000)
- The Center for Health & Nature is a collaboration between Houston Methodist, Texan by Nature and the Texas A&M Health Science Center that aims to drive research to study the impact of nature on health with evidence-based programs that complement the full continuum of health care. (College Station, Texas; $150,000)
- The Collective for Nature Immersion and Practice at Colorado State University improves the impact of current nature-based programming and the quality of empirical research on nature and human wellbeing through a unique model of co-creation with nonprofits. This enables partners to collect scientific data themselves, which both expands current scientific knowledge and evaluates programs. (Fort Collins, Colorado; $150,000)
- The Institute for Agroecology (IFA) at the University of Vermont aims to confront inequity, foster human and ecological wellbeing, and support dignified livelihoods through research, learning and engagement. IFA recognizes emergent intersections with public health and human behavior, and is committed to advance agroecology, nature and health. (Burlington, Vermont; $150,000)
- Park Rx America aims to decrease the burden of chronic disease and increase health and wellness in marginalized communities by working with healthcare providers to incorporate nature prescriptions.(Washington, D.C.; $150,000)
- The Trauma Foundation supports the healing of unresolved trauma by developing and funding programs, initiatives and research focused on innovative approaches to support mental/behavioral health and trauma recovery. Funding will support the Pathways Nature Healing Program, which is the first nature based direct service program that can be sustainably funded through insurance, Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. (Bainbridge Island, Washington; $150,000)
The Fund also provided support for the philanthropy sector with a grant for the Environmental Grantmakers Association. For a full list of grantees, visit REIFund.org/grantees. In 2022, the Fund invested a total of $3.4 million in nonprofits.
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, who are respected leaders focused on access and equity in the outdoors. 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.
About the REI Cooperative Action Fund
The REI Cooperative Action Fund is a 501(c)(3) public charity launched in 2021 by REI Co-op to create a more equitable outdoors by bringing together the collective strength of the co-op community. The Fund aims to inspire 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 23 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 181 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.