As protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement continue to roil much of the country, from big urban centers to small rural towns, and, indeed, in cities around the world, many people in a variety of cultural and community spaces are wondering how they can help amplify voices of color in their particular cultural corner of the world. The outdoor community is of course no different. Recent years have seen more concerted efforts to increase diversity in outdoor spaces by widening access, working to include more people of color in the outdoor industry, and to be more welcoming of those who come to the outdoors from urban areas, new to the fantastic experience of reconnecting with nature.
We’ve compiled a list, that is by no means exhaustive, of organizations that work to further those goals. If the events of the past week or so have you casting about for ways to become involved in supporting diverse voices or communities, or if you’ve meant to for years but are now spurred into action, the list below offers some great places to start, all of which accept donations. For those with easily accessible mission statements, we’ve simply added them here, otherwise, we offer a small summary of what they’re about.
“Outdoor Afro has become the nation’s leading, cutting edge network that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. We help people take better care of themselves, our communities, and our planet! Outdoor Afro is a national non-profit organization with leadership networks around the country. With nearly 80 leaders in 30 states from around the country, we connect thousands of people to outdoor experiences, who are changing the face of conservation. So come out in nature with us, or be a partner to help us grow our work so that we can help lead the way for inclusion in outdoor recreation, nature, and conservation for all!”
Outdoor Outreach offers programs that support youth in San Diego County who “may not otherwise have the opportunities to experience outdoor recreation, environmental education, and stewardship activities.”
The MeWater Foundation “is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization run by surfers and mental health professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. We provide day and overnight surf camps to youth, families, and groups, with a mental health approach to mindfulness, empowerment, and exposure to the ocean and the great outdoors.”
Outdoors Empowered Network. “Study after study is proving that as we spend time in nature we become happier and healthier. Outdoors Empowered Network is here to break down the barriers to accessing the solution. We’re seeding and supporting a national network of organizations that are providing training and outdoor gear libraries in their communities.”
The National Recreation Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the role of recreation as a positive force in improving the quality of life of youth. We do this by investing in recreation programs serving those who are economically, physically, or mentally disadvantaged.
Melanin Base Camp. “Whether you bike, climb, hike, or paddle, Melanin Base Camp is your own home too. Join us as we work together to increase representation and opportunities for people of color in outdoor adventure sports. Along the way we won’t shy away from sensitive topics (race and gender) but we’ll do so in a way that creates a safe space for people with marginalized identities. Join the movement and help us #diversifyoutdoors!”
Black Outside. With the knowledge that only 1% of Texas state park participants identify as Black/African-American, Black Outside, Inc was founded with the mission of expanded access, programming, and relevancy to both Black and Brown communities across Texas. We seek to not only diversify the outdoors but unleash a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts reflective of our country and state’s beautiful diversity.
Blackpackers. 1.) This Colorado-based organization’s mission: “To provide gear, outdoor excursions and outdoor education for free or at subsidized cost 2.) To connect participants with volunteer opportunites, internships, jobs, and post-secondary education resources to create pipeline from outdoor recreation to outdoor industry careers. In these ways, we can create economic equity in outdoor recretion and attempt to attack the wealth gap in vulnerable communities.”
“The Outdoor Journal Tour is designed for women who want to dive deeper into their personal development, but are bored with traditional self-help methods. Participants will have the opportunity to explore scenic landscapes and hiking trails while being guided through an empowering (and customized) personal discovery process that uses physical activity, journaling and meditation as healing tools. The process includes daily writing prompts, engaging exercises and weekly guided meditations.”
National Brotherhood of Skiers. Our mission is mission is to “identify, develop, and support athletes of color who will WIN international and Olympic winter sports competition representing the Unites States and to increase participation in winter sports.”
If there are organizations you’d like to see us highlight, please tell us below.