Outdoors Alliance for Kids Receives Support from Co-Founder, REI

guest blog by Sierra Club’s Nearby Nature Director and OAK’s Chair Jackie Ostfeld

I am pleased to announce that one of the founders of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK), REI, recently announced support for the Alliance with a gift of $30,000. The grant will help OAK meet our mission to connect children, youth and families with the outdoors.

Just over four years ago, before OAK was OAK, when we were just eight passionate people scheming in a room together about how we were going to help support and grow a national voice to advocate for getting youth outdoors, REI was there. REI has been with OAK from the beginning and I am thrilled to see how much this partnership has grown and deepened in just a few years. I want to extend my deep gratitude to REI for investing in OAK’s mission that is now shared by 75 organizations.

REI is dedicated to “inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.” OAK will help REI meet its mission by addressing the growing divide between children, youth, families and the outdoors with decision-makers at the federal, state and local levels. Through this grant, OAK will educate leaders at all levels and advocate for administrative policies directed at getting children, youth and families outdoors with a focus on education, community health and wellness, and environmental stewardship. We’ll deepen partnerships with federal agencies to coordinate, leverage and expand opportunities to get young people outside. We’ll take our work to the state and local level with the recently developed ECHO (Every Child Healthy Outdoors) Across America Toolkit. (Learn more about the ECHO Across America Toolkit by watching our online Webinar). And we’ll grow and broaden our membership.

“Extending our partnership with OAK reinforces REI’s commitment to connect our members and their families to inspiring outdoor places and programs,” said Taldi Walter, community affairs program manager for REI. “By working to further develop relationships with local and state agencies, OAK is showcasing its commitment to tackling relevant and important issues to get more children into the outdoors, yielding benefits for generations to come.”

“As OAK’s fiscal sponsor, The Sierra Club Foundation is pleased to see the growing and deepening commitment from REI to address the divide between kids and nature,” said Peter Martin, Executive Director of the Sierra Club Foundation. “REI and the Sierra Club share the understanding that in order to build the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts and stewards, we need to first make sure our kids can get outdoors safely and frequently.”

Sierra Club is one of several organizations including the American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, The North Face, Public Lands Service Coalition (a program of The Corps Network), REI, The Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA that make up OAK’s leadership. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. On behalf of all the members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, here’s a big THANK YOU to REI for your investment in this important work!

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REI partners with OAK during Great Outdoors America Week 2014 to teach local kids how to rock climb.