REI Co-op 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 COVID-19. According to a recent KOA study on travel, 47 percent of people who had a previously planned trip now plan to camp instead and another by Civic Science found that 43 percent of Americans over the age of 13 said they would be engaged in 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; $6,000
- Freshwater Land Trust in Birmingham, AL; $8,500
- Friends of the Chicago River; $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 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; $575,00
- Support for the organizations that develop, preserve and promote and sustain National Scenic Trails; four grants totaling $100,000
- American Rivers’ National River Cleanup (NRC) volunteer engagement program; $40,000
- Continued support for the co-op’s rewilding projects in Chicago, Portland, Oregon, Washington, D.C. and along the East Coast Greenway; five grants totaling $285,000