Kent-based REI has invested $500,000 in organizations across the country that are creating opportunities to connect women and girls to nature.

 The contributions are part of an expansive, consumer-facing effort, dubbed “Force of Nature,” undertaken by REI in May to advance gender equity in the outdoors.

As part of the effort, REI has already committed $500,000 to three national, women-focused nonprofits with whom it already had a relationship: Camber Outdoors ($400,000), GirlTrek ($50,000) and the YMCA’s GOLD initiative ($50,000). It also launched the $500,000 Force of Nature Fund, from which this latest round of contributions draws.

In this latest round of investment, 26 nonprofits were selected from over 500 organizations that responded to REI’s open call for submissions. Three of those groups — Skate Like A Girl, Recreation Northwest and Young Women Empowered — have direct ties to Washington. Grants range from $5,000 to $25,000.

“We believe a life outdoors is a life well lived for all. That means we support equality from the backcountry to the boardroom,” says Jerry Stritzke, REI’s president and CEO. “REI works with hundreds of nonprofits annually to help communities connect with the outdoors, and protect the places we love. A core part of our business model links the co-op’s health to investments in the outdoor community. As we thrive, we share this success. This year, with Force of Nature, we added a specific focus on groups that are creating new and inspiring ways to advance gender equity and inclusion using the outdoors as a platform. The Force of Nature Fund helped us identify hundreds of organizations doing incredible work, and we’re proud to partner with our new grantees to learn and be inspired.”