VF Foundation pledged $1 million to the Outdoor Foundation’s core goal to invest in communities to help kids and families get outside–and do so more often. VF is joined by Patagonia and Thule, which have made significant multi-year pledges. In addition, REI has committed to a future investment. The support will be invested in innovative programs and with organizations in key “Thrive Outside Communities” to ensure that outdoor experiences become woven into the fabric of communities.

The leadership shown by VF, Patagonia, Thule and REI builds momentum and enthusiasm for participation and support from many companies in the industry, including financial, gear and mentorship contributions. The goal is to engage companies of all sizes in the Outdoor Foundation’s effort to dramatically increase outdoor participation.

Getting kids and families into a regular routine of exercising and playing outside is an extremely challenging goal. According to the Outdoor Foundation’s 2018 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report:

  • 91 percent of Americans say getting outside for their health is moderately to extremely important, but their actions do not reflect this
  • 20 percent of Americans participate in an outdoor activity only once per week and 50 percent of Americans are active outdoors only once per year
  • Less than 21 percent of children are active outdoors once or more per a week

The focus of the Outdoor Foundation is to create Thrive Outside Communities that bring together coordinated programming for kids and families of diverse backgrounds. The Foundation will weave the outdoors into the lives of many and provide repeat experiences of fun and joy that will help build healthy individuals and healthy communities.

“VF’s outdoor brands, most notably The North Face, are proud supporters of Outdoor Industry Association and have had a strong partnership with OIA over the years,” said Steve Rendle, chairman, president and chief executive officer of VF Corporation. “Throughout our longstanding relationship, we have continually seen important work being done by OIA and its Foundation to advance the spirit and passion of the outdoor industry. With this founding-partner gift from VF Foundation, we express our deep gratitude and hope that it inspires others to join in support.”

“The connection to the outdoors is broken, as both adults and children are overscheduled and over-screened with TVs, smartphones, video games and busy lives,” said Amy Roberts, executive director of Outdoor Industry Association. “The generous support from VF Foundation, Patagonia and Thule will go to communities, organizations and programs focused on reversing the decline of outdoor participation. It is our hope that this support will inspire other outdoor businesses to invest in this critically important work.”

“The Outdoor Foundation is an important force for getting more young people outside and Patagonia is humbled to invest in growing the next generation of advocates for the planet and outdoor enthusiasts,” said Patagonia President and CEO Rose Marcario. “The strength of our industry comes from those who enjoy getting outside and are committed to protecting wild places, and we hope this gift helps to inspire solutions and leaders at the community level for years to come.”

“As a proud member of Outdoor Industry Association and supporter of the Outdoor Foundation, we are pleased to be help them further their mission with this gift,” said Fred Clark, Thule group Americas president. “Thule is a brand that strives to encourage active consumers to embrace the outdoors and pursue their passions and through the hard work done by OIA and its members we join in their commitment and pledge to furthering participation in the outdoors.”

“In today’s world, there are too many barriers to access quality, safe and close-to-home outdoor experiences with positive, affordable programming by trusted community partners,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. “We plan to change that through our focus on investments in multiple organizations working within communities to get kids and families connected to the outdoors and reap the benefits this provides. This funding will help us make getting outside a healthy habit for all.”

The Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Outdoor Industry Association, is a national 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to getting people outside for their health, the health of communities and the health of the outdoor industry.

Photo courtesy Outdoor Industry Association