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The REI Foundation Awards $410,000 to Connect Younger and More Diverse Groups with Nature

Recipients include the Children & Nature Network, Futuro Media Group, Outdoor Foundation and YMCA of the USA

The REI Foundation awarded a total of $410,000 to nonprofit programs dedicated to engaging younger and more diverse populations in the outdoors. Grant recipients include the Children & Nature Network REI(C&NN), Futuro Media Group, Outdoor Foundation and YMCA of the USA.

“The REI Foundation’s mission is to better connect the next generation of adventurers and environmental stewards with the outdoors by partnering with key organizations,” said Marc Berejka, president of The REI Foundation and REI’s director of government and community affairs. “It is our honor to support each of these programs. They recognize and promote the benefits of nature among diverse audiences, and empower youth with important outdoor leadership skills.”

A $200,000 grant from The REI Foundation will expand the reach of C&NN’s Natural Leaders Network, a program for young leaders aged 18 to 29 who are working locally to design and promote nature-based experiences. The funding will support training and online engagement for Natural Leaders and enable a new “Green Play to Green Pay” initiative to create a pathway to outdoor jobs for diverse millennials. By 2015, the Natural Leaders Network will have a presence in 60 new communities, expanding its total community network to 150.

“This program empowers young people to serve as change-makers in their local community in the fields of outdoor recreation and conservation, giving them the tools they need to become leaders not for tomorrow, but for today,” said Juan Martinez, director of the Natural Leaders Network. “The REI Foundation’s support of the Natural Leaders Network highlights REI’s leadership and commitment to helping us ensure a vibrant future of Nature-Smart leaders.”

“RadioNature” is a popular series on LatinoUSA, NPR’s only weekly national Latino radio news and culture program. Executive produced and hosted by award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa, Latino USA is distributed by the Futuro Media Group, a nonprofit media company based in Harlem, New York. “RadioNature” is supported by The REI Foundation through a $110,000 grant. Now in its third year, the series documents the powerful and emotional bonds that diverse communities have with nature and is aimed at inspiring more outdoor enthusiasts and environmental stewards. The 2014 grant will fund in-depth stories highlighting the intersection between outdoor activities and the environmental impacts of pursuing them, from the perspective of Latinos. In addition, funding will help expand the segments’ reach through targeted outreach and audience building.

The REI Foundation continues its longstanding support of the Outdoor Foundation through a $50,000 grant to help fund leadership development for high school and college-age people at the Outdoor Nation. The program ensures that America’s next generation of leaders have the skills, training and resources to connect their peers to the outdoors and drive participation. To date, Outdoor Nation, co-founded by REI, has hosted 30 youth summits and invested in more than 250 youth-led projects that reached 25,000 young people. In addition, its Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge program helps collegiate leaders drive outdoor participation on campuses and in local communities.

A $50,000 grant to YMCA of the USA’s Boys and Girls Outdoor Leadership Development (BOLD/GOLD) program was also awarded by The REI Foundation. BOLD/GOLD engages diverse youth participants in guided, challenging experiences to develop outdoor skills, self-confidence and leadership abilities. This funding will support efforts to attract and expose a diverse group of youth from various ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds to outdoor programming. Founded in 2006 as a pilot by five students at the Seattle Metrocenter YMCA, the program has grown to include seven YMCAs around the country and support more than 700 students annually who engage in nearly 50 different outdoor high-adventure trips.

“The Y is committed to nurturing the potential of every child and teen. Through programs like BOLD/GOLD, YMCAs  provide many of the critical assets that kids need to become successful adults – a sense of belonging, supportive relationships and opportunities to enhance decision-making skills,” says John Duntley, senior camping specialist for YMCA of the USA. “We are grateful for The REI Foundation’s generosity and their commitment to collaborating with like-minded organizations to ensure that children learn, grow and thrive – both in nature and in life.”

The REI Foundation’s work is in addition to REI’s ongoing philanthropic investment in nonprofits that sustain public lands and places where the co-op’s members play. Between The REI Foundation and REI’s corporate grants program, the co-op has donated more than $35 million in the past 10 years.

About The REI Foundation

The REI Foundation was founded and supported by REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) in 1993. The Foundation's mission is to help ensure that tomorrow's outdoor enthusiasts and conservation stewards reflect the diversity of America. The REI Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Golf Cars and Sustainability

By: Brian Kington

Solar Golf CartLet’s first take a few seconds to discuss proper terminology.  They’re actually called golf cars not golf carts.    Golf carts are something players use who prefer pulling or pushing their clubs to riding or schlepping them around the course.   Of the many factors influencing the future of the golf industry, the use of golf cars is a unique topic for discussion because, in my opinion, they have both positive and negative effects on the sustainability of the game. 

The traditional round of golf 100 years ago saw a player carrying his own bag, or hiring a caddie, but with either choice walking 5 miles across undulating terrain was a regular aspect of the game.    At private clubs today, it appears that the majority of members still walk the course, however at public facilities walking is much more rare.   Encouraging this puzzling trend for players to choose riding over walking is the common business strategy for daily fee courses to pad their greens fees by including a golf car with the round.
There are some obvious environmental benefits that come with encouraging the non-use of golf cars, such as conservation of fossil fuels and energy.    But consider the social benefits of walking, such as additional exercise, which is important and much needed for all of us, not to mention an enhanced interaction with nature for walkers.    I would also argue the use of golf cars actually worsens pace of play, an already serious issue in the game at present, especially in wet conditions when golf cars are not permitted on the fairways and players are constantly going back and forth to retrieve clubs.  
A counter argument supporting use of golf cars could be the loss in revenue for a course already struggling to meet their bottom line in today’s down economy.  However, with the increased cost savings for the maintenance staff resulting from less wear and tear to the roughs and fairway, and reduced energy requirements, it may be close to a wash economically.   
The conversation gets more interesting when you consider a much larger resort community because golf cars can be used for more than carrying clubs.     Expansive interconnected areas of open space, plant and wildlife habitat, and recreation are generously incorporated into the communities to provide basic needs such as improved air and water quality, enhancement of biodiversity and green space.   This integrated planning approach of blending human uses and nature also offers a unique design opportunity to consider alternative strategies for vehicular circulation.     Often times elaborate trail systems are incorporated throughout the property which not only provide recreational opportunities for hiking, biking, bird watching, but that also accommodates and encourages using golf cars for everyday movement within the community instead of using automobiles. 
Certainly some senior players and others with physical limitations may require a golf car simply to participate in the sport.  This should be highly encouraged, as it is very important for golf to be accessible for everyone for the sustainability of the game.   Designers should recognize the increased value in promoting the use of golf cars as an alternative means of transportation and incorporate the concept into the planning process.  As far as a typical 18 hole outing is concerned, most players might reconsider throwing the strap of their bag over their shoulder instead of strapping the bag into a golf car—and if not for their own health and well-being, then for the well-being of golf.  

Brian Kington, is a Landscape Architect with Love & Dodson, LLC.

Read more about Sustainable Golf at:


References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles 

The International Sustainability Council 

Sustainability Campaign

Golfs Drive Toward Sustainability

World Migratory Bird Day

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America

The United States Golf Association (USGA)

Sustainable Golf & Development

Sustainable Forest Initiative

National Geographic

International Migratory Bird Day 2011


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