REI Co-op believes trails are a crucial to getting outside and life well-lived. To support this philosophy, the retailer is helping create lasting legacies in select communities by investing in large, longer-term projects that connect people and communities to the outdoors. This year the Ridge Trail Council was thrilled to become an REI Co-op Rewilding Grantee. The multi-year grant will be used to raise awareness about the Ridge Trail.
With more than six million active Co-op members and 143 stores, the Co-op invests in outdoor places by investing in trails—this is why it partners with community organizations like the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council, who share its goal of creating, improving, and sustaining access to inspiring places. Kristen Ragain, the Co-op’s community affairs program manager, says, “The Co-op began the Rewilding program to invest in projects that can change the way people experience the outdoors.” Because the Bay Area is the Co-op’s biggest market—with 10 stores in close proximity to the Ridge Trail—the Co-op looked at the Ridge Trail project as an immense opportunity given the trail’s regional focus and impact on so many people in diverse communities.” The intent of the grant is to invest in building the Council’s organizational capacity.
The Bay Area Ridge Trail has had a long association with the Co-op through Ridge Trail Day. Over the past nine years, this collaborative workday—largely supported by local Co-op stores—has brought in 4,200 volunteers who have dedicated 16,000 hours to caring for the Ridge Trail. In addition, the Co-op has provided the Ridge Trail Council with $400,000 in grant funding over the last 26 years.
Under the current Legacy Grant, the Co-op and the Ridge Trail will collaborate in new ways. Through the REI Co-op Outdoor School, the Co-op will lead outings and offer in-store programs about the Ridge Trail. The Co-op values playing an active role furthering the mission of its grantees. The Ridge Trail Council is extremely grateful for its partnership with REI Co-op!