The REI Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supported by outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI, awarded its annual $50,000 Mary Anderson Legacy Grant to The Mountaineers, the Seattle-based outdoor education, recreation and conservation nonprofit founded in 1906.
Established in recognition of the efforts by REI co-founder Mary Anderson to involve youth in outdoor exploration, the grant will assist in the expansion of the nonprofit’s Mountain Workshops youth educational programming and bolster its scholarship efforts, both of which are part of The Mountaineers’ Youth and Family Initiative. The organization provided 1,260 youth-oriented outdoor experiences between 2010 and 2011, including 40 Mountain Workshops that reached about 550 individuals.
The Mary Anderson Legacy Grant was introduced in 2009 in celebration of the 100th birthday of REI’s co-founder. Mary Anderson, now 102, helped establish REI as a co-op in 1938 in Seattle with her husband, Lloyd, and 21 fellow mountaineering colleagues. The annual grant supports organizations that reflect her passion as an outdoors person and educator to actively engage young people in learning about nature through hands-on engagement and discovery of the outdoors.
The Mountaineers’ mission is to enrich the community by helping people explore, conserve, learn about and enjoy the lands and waters of the Pacific Northwest. With a rich history, the nonprofit today has 10,000 members, including many families and individuals who actively volunteer in outdoor education programs open to the community. The nonprofit’s Youth and Family Initiative, which includes a suite of youth offerings, is driven by its goal to engage the next generation in outdoor recreation and stewardship.
“Research has shown that positive outdoor experiences during childhood create a lifelong appreciation for the outdoors,” said Martinique Grigg, The Mountaineers executive director. “The Mountaineers is committed to instilling that appreciation in today’s youth and Mary Anderson’s Legacy Grant will allow us to expand our program as well as provide funding for outreach to underserved youth.”
“The Mountaineers are such an important organization in the Northwest and have introduced many people to the outdoors,” said Michael Collins, the REI Foundation president. “We are pleased to have an opportunity to help support and grow the organization’s youth programming. It’s an exciting and important direction for the organization and they have shown great results in a short period of time.”
The historical connection between The Mountaineers and REI’s founders is significant. According to The Mountaineers’ archives, Lloyd and Mary Anderson enrolled in the nonprofit’s first basic climbing course in the 1930s. Three years later, the Andersons successfully found a high quality and affordable ice axe for use in their outdoor adventures. Word quickly spread among Seattle’s climbing community, which led the Andersons to establish an outdoor gear cooperative. Additionally, the Andersons also served on The Mountaineers’ board and helped establish the structure of the basic climbing course that has produced thousands of trained climbers since it began 75 years ago.