REI Cooperative Action Fund’s $3.8 Million Investment

 rei soho wall art (credit rei)

Sixty grants awarded as REI Fund surpasses 2 million individual donations from REI community. (Credit: REI)

by | May 13, 2024

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The REI Cooperative Action Fund has allocated over $3.8 million across 60 organizations, advancing equity in outdoor access and pioneering research on nature’s impact on human health.

At the heart of this initiative is a commitment to community collaboration.

Kristen Ragain, Managing Director of the REI Cooperative Action Fund

“The REI Fund is about bringing together the collective strength of the greater REI community—which includes honoring the perspectives of leaders from the communities we serve. We’re taking a community-centered approach, working with advisors across our entire portfolio. This helps put outdoor equity leaders and nature and health scientists at the center, as we follow their lead to address funding gaps and critical needs in their respective fields.”

The fund’s priorities span three key areas: connecting people outside, creating outdoor spaces, and focusing on health outcomes. Through this latest funding cycle, 25 emerging organizations have received support, each dedicated to fostering diversity and inclusion in outdoor activities. Examples include Brown Girls Climb, which champions leadership opportunities for People of the Global Majority in climbing, and the Piikani Lodge Health Institute, which promotes health among Indigenous communities.

In addition to supporting grassroots initiatives, the REI Fund is driving forward innovative research endeavors. This includes backing projects that explore the impact of nature on human health. Matthew Davis, a researcher at Clemson University, is developing tools to analyze disparities in nature visitation across different demographic groups. Meanwhile, Nancy Wells at Cornell University is investigating nature’s therapeutic benefits for autistic youth.

Amber Pearson at Michigan State University is leading a groundbreaking study on nature-based interventions among BIPOC university students. This research aims to understand how exposure to nature can enhance a sense of belonging and well-being among marginalized communities.

Furthermore, the fund’s support extends beyond individual projects to foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing. Initiatives like The Learning Network, merging with the Nature and Health Alliance, are instrumental in advancing applied research and supporting practitioners in the field.

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