The National Audubon Society and The REI Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supported by outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI, are kicking off the second phase of an innovative collaboration launched last year. The initiative seeks to make hands-on nature experiences engaging and accessible for people of all backgrounds – including residents of underserved communities. Renewed funding from The REI Foundation will enable Audubon to expand the reach of this program to four new cities.
“Language and culture should never be obstacles that keep people from experiencing and learning about nature,” said Audubon Vice President for Education, Judy Braus. “Thanks to The REI Foundation’s support and vision, we’re sharing its wonders with more schoolchildren, teens, young adults and families. In the process, we’re learning about what works, and that’s helping us be successful in other communities.”
The $100,000 grant from The REI Foundation will support education and conservation activities at four Audubon Centers. In Brooklyn, New York, the Prospect Park Audubon Center will invite aspiring rap and recording artists to record stories and music about their own encounters with nature and promote volunteer action in the park. Near St. Louis, the Audubon Center at Riverlands will work with the New Sunny Mount Community Mission to engage teens and young adults from the predominantly African American community as river guide interns. The Richardson Bay Audubon Center near San Francisco will provide school and site-based nature education for elementary school students from the culturally diverse San Rafael Canal community, and vocational training opportunities for their older brothers and sisters. Science and nature education programs and field trips from the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove will help bridge the gap created by education budget cuts that hit the nearby Norristown, PA community especially hard.
“The New Sunny Mount Community Outreach Mission is honored to participate in this program,” said Rev. Clyde Crumpton, Program Director at New Sunny Mount. “The program offers the opportunity for urban youth to experience life beyond the boundaries of their usual routines of home, school, and neighborhood influences. It will promote the development of their social and leadership skills, as they prepare for higher education and adulthood. The exposure to the infinite setting of the great outdoors will inspire these teenagers to think and dream beyond any preconceived constraints they may have encountered, and encourage them to develop their unlimited potential.”
“The REI Foundation is committed to increasing the number of outdoor enthusiasts who have an enduring lifetime commitment to the outdoors and reflect the diversity of America,” said REI Foundation President Michael Collins. “Audubon’s hands-on programs are great opportunities to support efforts to bring young people to nature and the outdoors in ways that are meaningful to them and their communities. We are delighted to help expand these programs into four new cities.” Last year, The REI Foundation provided support for Audubon programs at Seattle’s Seward Park Audubon Center, the Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix, and the Audubon Center at Debs Park in Los Angeles. ###
About The REI Foundation
The REI Foundation’s mission is to increase the number of outdoor enthusiasts who have an enduring lifetime commitment to the outdoors and reflect the diversity of America. Recognizing that most people with a love of the outdoors discover the natural world early in their life, The Foundation's primary efforts are in encouraging active outdoor participation by young people and their families. The REI Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded and supported by national outdoor retailer, Recreational Equipment, Inc., known as REI.