At the beginning of the year, Keen Footwear proudly announced a sudden change of corporate spending: nearly $1 million originally allocated towards a spring/summer 2005 advertising campaign would be set aside for contributions to a variety of non-profit organizations that are important to the company and its employees.

The newly formed Keen Footwear Foundation is committed to supporting national environmental organizations including groups that are expanding opportunities for people to experience the outdoors. Keen is most interested in building relationships with organizations that identify and work on root causes of problems and that approach issues with a commitment to long-term change.

The Keen Footwear Foundation has announced that it is currently supporting:

The Conservation Alliance: The Alliance is a coalition of outdoor industry companies whose annual membership dues are donated to grassroots environmental organizations. Since1989, the Conservation Alliance has contributed more than $4.5 million to dozens of environmental groups working to protect wild places for their habitat and recreational values. Grant recipients have protected millions of acres of wildlands, stopped or removed 25 dams, and preserved access to hundreds of miles of waterways and several climbing areas.

With support from Keen, The Conservation Alliance will make significant progress toward reaching the following goals and move to a new level of effectiveness in leveraging outdoor business support for conservation efforts:

  • Increase membership such that they donate $1 million annually
  • Implement a sustained marketing and outreach effort to maintain a high profile within the outdoor industry
  • Generate enough non-grant revenue to sustain a permanent staff position
  • Demonstrate a notable increase in meaningful conservation action taken by outdoor industry companies and employees

Big City Mountaineers is devoted to providing significant mentoring during wilderness trips for urban teens participating in existing youth development programs. The BCM program is an eight-day trip, the focus of which is a five-day backcountry backpacking or canoeing experience during which 5 teens are matched with 5 volunteer adult role models. While immersed in a pristine wilderness in the company of caring adults, the teens progress along an emotional journey.

With 35 trips being planned for this year, Keen has created an important incentive for BCM to grow its donor base through a matching grant. BCM expects to increase its pledge campaign donor base by more than 200%, and donations by more than 300% through Keen’s generous incentive. Keen is offering footwear incentive programs for teen participants and adult volunteers participating in BCM’s recreational mentoring program. Keen will also be underwriting trips for four San Francisco Bay area youth groups, co-sponsoring a BCM documentary film, and donating office space for BCM board meetings.

The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit, grassroots environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's oceans, waves and beaches for all people, through conservation, activism, research and education. Originally founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, today the Surfrider Foundation boasts more than 40,000 members and 60 chapters across the United States and Puerto Rico, as well as international affiliates in Europe, Australia, Japan and Brazil.

Keen will be supporting The Surfrider Foundation as well as sponsoring its bi-monthly newsletter and a national membership drive.

Leave No Trace: For more than 25 years the mission of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has been to promote and inspire responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships. The Leave No Trace program is considered by many groups as the most proactive and sustainable way to protect our public lands as recreational use continues to increase.

Keen will be donating money and product to support and be a major sponsor in the Leave No Trace State Advocate Program, which supports activism, education and awareness, all on a local level. They will also contribute annual partnership dues, as well as marketing and graphic assistance to the organization.

Medicines Global is dedicated to improving world health through innovative delivery of medical supplies, medicines, and support to needy and remote areas of the world by: inspiring adventure travelers to give back to the places they visit by delivering basic first aid supplies to designated medical centers and remote community-run health posts; planning and sponsoring annual expeditions focused on medical supply delivery; and developing America’s youth into Outdoor Youth Ambassadors focused on healthy living, outdoor adventure, and global humanitarian efforts.

The Keen Footwear Foundation recently donated money to Medicines Global that enabled five Jordan High School students from Watts, California, to travel to Sri Lanka to deliver hundreds of thousands of dollars in medicines and supplies for tsunami relief. Accompanied by a nurse and a doctor, the youth traveled through southwestern Sri Lanka dispensing prescription drugs and medical supplies to refugee camps and hospitals. They had the privilege of learning about the needs of this country from the Minister of Health, the Mayor of Colombo, and directors of regional hospitals. This learning will enable Medicines Global to provide longer-term support and communication in the coming years.

Keen will continue to work with the evolving Medicines Global Outdoor Youth Ambassador Program as well as spread the word to adventure travelers.

AmeriCares, a non-profit disaster relief and aid organization that provides emergency medical and other relief materials from U.S. and international manufacturers, to health care and welfare professionals around the world.

The Keen Footwear Foundation began its efforts with an immediate donation in the winter to help with AmeriCares emergency relief efforts. To date Keen has contributed cash to assist in the relief and rehabilitation of tsunami-affected countries in south Asia.

Keen Footwear Employee Service Program allows Keen Footwear employees 24 hours annually of service leave so that they can work for the non-profit group of their choice. Employees will be paid, by Keen, at their regular hourly rate. In addition, Keen will match up to $150 per day for hours worked if the non-profit group fits within the Keen Footwear Foundation guidelines.

Keen Footwear encourages its industry partners, customers and retailers to visit often to learn more about the causes it has chosen to support, and how to become more involved-not just with the non-profit organizations that KEEN supports, but in their own local communities and charities that inspire them. “Awareness is a big part of this program,” said Keen President Jim Van Dine. “By generating awareness with consumers and retailers when they buy KEEN shoes, we invite them to participate on their own. “