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REI Co-op celebrates progress towards getting every person in America outside in five minutes or less

April 17, 2024

Media Contact

Caitlin Goettler

SEATTLE – REI Co-op is celebrating continued progress towards its efforts to get every person in America outside in five minutes or less, no matter where they live. Through its Outside in 5 initiative, REI supports local projects and national legislation to improve access to nearby nature. This includes support for the REI Cooperative Action Fund, which last fall provided $6.1 million in funding for more than 260 local, regional, and national nonprofits who are leading efforts to create better access to the outdoors for everyone.

“Every person deserves the opportunity to get outside in their neighborhood, but for far too long and for far too many, this has not been a reality,” said Roma McCaig, REI vice president of public affairs and impact. “With the efforts of our employees, members, and the broader co-op community—all united together with Outside in 5—we have made tremendous progress towards our goal of enabling time outside for everyone.”

Based on data from Trust for Public Land, 100 million people in the U.S. lack access to outdoor spaces close to home, many of which represent communities that have been historically and systemically disenfranchised. To help close this gap, REI donates $5 from every co-op membership to the REI Cooperative Action Fund. In addition to this funding, REI employees in local stores across the country are building partnerships with organizations that are advancing Outside in 5 in their local communities. These efforts include:

  • Partnering with Greening Youth Foundation to connect youth and young adults to the outdoors in Atlanta. Since 2022, REI Co-op and the REI Cooperative Action Fund have invested a combined $175,000 to Greening Youth Foundation. GYF engages underrepresented youth and young adults, while connecting them to the outdoors and careers in conservation.
  • Advocating for $1 billion in funding for Texas State Parks. Texas ranks 35th in the nation for state parks per capita. REI teamed up with Environment Texas and Trust for Public Land to support the passage of Prop 14, a ballot measure championed by a bipartisan group of legislators that set aside $1 billion to create more state parks. REI supported this measure with a $10,000 investment in the campaign, events in several Texas-area stores, and inspiring the local community to raise their voice in support via the REI Cooperative Action Network.
  • Supporting Trust for Public Land’s green schoolyard efforts. REI joined Trust for Public Land to call on Congress to pass green schoolyards legislation to turn asphalt spaces into thriving green parks that benefit entire communities. This effort builds on more than three decades of partnership with Trust for Public Land to connect people to the benefits and joys of the outdoors.
  • Supporting the New Mexico Outdoor Equity Fund. The outdoors should be a welcoming place, yet many communities in New Mexico face barriers to time outside. REI worked with leaders like Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, Senator Peter Wirth, Senator George Munoz, Senator Steve Neville, and Representative Nathan Small who helped secure $400 million in permanent funding for the New Mexico Outdoor Equity Fund that help get youth in the outdoors, as well as other outdoor conservation and recreation programs.

As the co-op continues to advance its Outside in 5 initiative, REI is asking its growing 23-million-member community to raise its collective voice to support legislation that will help everyone access and enjoy time outside. With the REI Cooperative Action Network, anyone can help urge Congress to pass:

  • The TREES Act, which would create a grant program for states, local governments, tribes and other entities to facilitate tree planting projects that reduce residential energy consumption.
  • The Living Schoolyards Act, which would provide grants to schools and districts to transform their schoolyards into dynamic outdoor learning environments.
  • The Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program, which would expand active transportation opportunities to connect people from their homes to work and play without ever getting in a car.
  • The Outdoors for All Act, which would fund parks, trails, green spaces, playgrounds, cultural gathering spaces and more in underserved communities. The Outdoors for All Act is included in a broader package of legislation known as The EXPLORE Act, which passed by unanimous voice vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 9 and is awaiting a vote in the Senate. More than 200,000 people have voiced their support for the Outdoors for All Act through the REI Cooperative Action Network.

Additionally, the co-op published a playbook for Outside in 5 that details how individuals and organizations can engage in these efforts in their local community.

“While we are inspired by the progress we have made together as a co-op community, we know there is still so much left to do,” said McCaig. “This is a broad call to action. Anyone can join in Outside in 5 efforts by advocating for policy, supporting nonprofits, and engaging their community.”

Outside in 5 was launched in 2023 based on data from Trust for Public Land indicating that the U.S. is rich in enthusiasm for the outdoors but has inconsistent access and infrastructure for people to access it. With Outside in 5, REI aims to harness the collective power of the co-op community to bring nature closer to home for millions of people in America.

About the REI Co-op

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of 23 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. If you can’t visit one of our many stores, you can shop at REI.comREI Outlet or the REI shopping app. Everyone is welcome to shop REI, but members who join the co-op enjoy a range of benefits. More than a retailer, REI is a purpose-driven and values-led company dedicated to enabling life outside for all.