REI launches REI Cooperative Action Fund to scale investment in the outdoors
New community-supported public charity will fund organizations promoting justice, equity and belonging in the outdoors
Oct 4, 2021
SEATTLE – REI is launching a new community-supported public charity to harness the collective power of its 20 million members to fight for a more equitable and inclusive outdoor community. For the first time in the co-op’s 83-year history, the REI Cooperative Action Fund will allow co-op members, employees and the public to contribute and provide financial support to a nationwide network of nonprofit organizations promoting justice, equity and belonging in the outdoors.
For its inaugural grantmaking, the Fund is investing an initial $1 million in 19 nonprofit partners aligned with this mission. As more people participate and contribute, the Fund will scale this investment accordingly. The new charity builds on the co-op’s decades of philanthropic commitment. To date, the co-op has invested over $120 million in hundreds of nonprofit partners across the country.
“We believe connection to nature is fundamental for the health and well-being of all people and that time outside is a human right,” said Ben Steele, REI Chief Customer Officer. “As a community of millions of members, thousands of employees and hundreds of partners, we are uniquely positioned to drive meaningful change. Through the REI Cooperative Action Fund, we can harness the collective strength of the co-op to ensure that all people have their right to the outdoors protected.”
The Fund is part of the co-op’s broader effort to advance racial equity, diversity and inclusion within REI and broader society. The Cooperative Action platform harnesses the collective strength and size of the co-op's 20 million members and more than 15,000 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.
The Fund will focus on three specific grantmaking initiatives:
- Connecting more people outside: The Fund will support outdoor-focused organizations led by and serving Black communities, Indigenous peoples, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, people with physical disabilities, and women.
- Creating more space outside: The Fund will support efforts to increase equitable access to the outdoors, with specific emphasis on community-led carbon reduction projects that bring environmental benefits closer to home for marginalized communities.
- Centering health outside: The Fund will support 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.
“REI has worked for decades to drive meaningful change against some of the most complex issues facing our industry and society,” said Kristen Ragain, managing director of the REI Cooperative Action Fund. “Now, with the REI Cooperative Action Fund, everyone can contribute to the organizations, community leaders and initiatives building more just, accessible and inclusive outdoor spaces and places for everyone.”
As an independent, 501(c)(3) organization, the Fund will be led by its own board of directors with the support of a dedicated staff and compensated community advisors. REI will continue to invest more broadly in its local, national nonprofit partners through its annual philanthropic giving, while providing additional support for the Fund’s operations and grantmaking. In the coming years, REI will wind down its private charity, the REI Foundation, and direct its $6 million to the Fund. To start, REI will also pay the full salary of every staff member of the Fund and provide compensation for the Fund’s community advisors and board members. This will ensure that 100% of donations from the general public to the Fund are invested in organizations promoting justice, equity and inclusion in the outdoors.
As the REI Cooperative Action Fund looks to scale its investments and impact, REI members, employees and the public can support the Fund in numerous ways, including:
- Direct donations: As a community-supported public charity, REI members, employees and the public can make a one-time investment or set up recurring donations to the REI Cooperative Action Fund. All donations to the Fund are tax deductible.
- Making purchases with the REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard®: This year, REI will donate up to $1 million to the REI Cooperative Action Fund on behalf of its cardmembers using the REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard.*
- Gifting the outdoors with REI gift cards: From now until the end of the year, REI will donate $1 to the REI Cooperative Action Fund for every gift card purchased in an REI store, on REI.com or on the REI shopping app.**
- Purchasing products that give back: To celebrate the launch of the Fund, REI has created a collection of products designed to benefit the Fund. REI will donate 10% of sales of the collection to the REI Cooperative Action Fund.
- Recommending a grantee: As it continues to grow, the Fund will look to support additional organizations aligned with its mission. REI members, employees and the general public can recommend a potential grantee for funding.
*This year, REI will donate $0.10 per REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard purchase transaction to the REI Cooperative Action Fund, up to $1 million. The 501(c)(3) Fund makes grants to nonprofits that promote justice, equity and belonging in the outdoors. 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. For details about the REI Cooperative Action Fund, please see REIfund.org.
The creditor and issuer of the REI Co-op Mastercard® is U.S. Bank National Association, pursuant to a license from Mastercard International Incorporated.
© 2021 U.S. Bank
© 2021 Recreational Equipment Incorporated. All rights reserved.
** This year, REI will donate $1 to the REI Cooperative Action Fund for each REI gift card sold in an REI store, on REI.com or on the REI app. The 501(c)(3) Fund makes grants to nonprofits that promote justice, equity and belonging in the outdoors. For details about the REI Cooperative Action Fund, please see REIfund.org.
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.
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 20 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 174 locations in 41 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.