GROUPS WE SUPPORT: Outdoor Foundation
We take a large amount of pride in our history of outspoken advocacy for conservation and access causes (locally, regionally and globally), as well as in our efforts to support conservation, education and recreation groups that are on the front-lines of protecting and preserving the wild lands we love and depend on, and this ongoing series will serve to highlight and promote these all-important groups.
For a full list of the groups we support, click here.
The Outdoor Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by the Outdoor Industry Association in order to increase participation in outdoor activities and foster the benefits associated with them, such as health and wellness, and responsible use and stewardship of our natural resources. We caught up with Executive Director Christine Fanning to find out more specifics about what the Outdoor Foundation does and how it operates.
Can you describe when and how the Outdoor Foundation came to be?
The Outdoor Foundation was formed nearly 10 years ago by Outdoor Industry Association, the trade organization that represents the outdoor industry. Several years ago, the Foundation became a stand-alone not-for-profit organization—but we remain the official charitable arm of Outdoor Industry Association and are supported by more than 200 member companies. Today, the Outdoor Foundation has emerged as a nationally recognized charity that is inspiring new generations of outdoor enthusiasts.
What are the goals of the Outdoor Foundation and have they evolved over its 10 years?
The Foundation's mission is simple—to inspire future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. To achieve our mission we focus on producing valuable research on outdoor participation, we engage and empower young leaders in outdoor activities and activism and we invest in innovative programs and projects that drive outdoor recreation.
Two years ago we launched Outdoor Nation—a major new initiative that is creating a new generation of young leaders and change-makers who are spearheading innovative projects, influencing national, state and local decision-makers, and inspiring and mobilizing millions across the country to get outdoors and active.
Outdoor Nation has three strategic pillars: Engage. Invest. Activate.
- Engage new audiences and community champions
- Summit Series: In just two years, Outdoor Nation has brought together more than 1,500 millennials in 10 summits across the country - engaging diverse new audiences, building a connected community and inspiring collective action.
- ON Online: Outdoor Nation has an active on-line community of thousands of young people who are working together to share experiences, realize opportunities and grow the movement.
- Invest in great, youth-led project ideas
- Challenge Grants: With its partners, Outdoor Nation has invested nearly $1 million in the most effective, youth-led projects and programs that successfully and sustainably reconnect a new generation with the outdoors.
- Activate a powerful network of young outdoor leaders
- Adventures: Through its Summits and Challenge Grants, Outdoor Nation has empowered more than 100,000 young people to get outdoors and get active - ranging from campus outing clubs to local community gardens.
- Activism: Outdoor Nation works at the national, state and local level to influence policies and programs that concern youth and the outdoors. Meeting with top officials, speaking at conferences, creating youth ambassador programs, launching social media and outreach campaigns are just a few examples of ON activism impact.
What are some successes and struggles the Outdoor Foundation has had in the recent past?
We are very proud of the extraordinary impact that Outdoor Nation has had in such a short period of time, engaging and empowering tens of thousands of outdoor champions. We're excited to build on this success, working with our partners to realize our vision of a strong Outdoor Nation. Our primary challenge is securing enough resources to scale our work and realize our amazing potential.
Do you focus mainly on getting more youth to enjoy outdoor activities, or do you target other groups as well?
Our research shows that youth participation over the past 5 years has plummeted 15 percent. As a result of this research, we focus primarily on empowering young people ages 16 - 28 to inspire their peers and younger community members to get outdoors and active. After all, the millennial generation is America's most influential group with the ability to reach people of all ages: younger children as well as parents and grandparents.
How important is support from companies like Black Diamond for the Outdoor Foundation?
Support from Black Diamond and other outdoor companies is critical to our success. While we are fortunate to receive funding from other sectors including healthcare and technology, outdoor industry companies remain our best partners and supporters. It's critical that America's companies, especially outdoor brands, and communities begin to address this growing 'nature deficit disorder' crisis among our youth.
For more information on the Outdoor Foundation, or to make a donation, click here.