EarthTeam Environmental Network Receives Grant from REI Foundation

EarthTeam Environmental Network Receives Grant from REI Foundation to Connect Youth to Nature

BERKELEY, CALIF. – EarthTeam Environmental Network today announced a $14,000 grant provided by the REI Foundation, a private foundation supported by the national outdoor gear and apparel retailer Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI). The grant supports EarthTeam's Eco-Stewards, an environmental education and restoration program that integrates classroom instruction and hands-on fieldwork with student-created multimedia outreach, including television and an online magazine.

“REI's grant has allowed EarthTeam to offer the Eco-Stewards program to more students, increasing our capacity to positively impact both the lives of East Bay teens and the health of local watersheds,” said Maggie Fleming, Executive Director at EarthTeam. “In addition to the REI Foundation, local REI teams have been very supportive of our work, inviting EarthTeam staff to their outreach events, and encouraging their staff to volunteer with EarthTeam restoration activities.”

The grant has supported EarthTeam's outreach to 300 students aged 12 to 17 from seven middle and high schools in Richmond, Oakland and Pittsburgh, California.

“We are proud to support EarthTeam and their leadership in connecting Bay Area youth to nature,” said Michael Collins, REI Foundation President. “Community-based efforts such as the partnership between nonprofits and educators have an influential role in helping youth build meaningful connections to the natural world.”

Educators are an important element of EarthTeam's focus. Leslie Ganick, a teacher with the Environmental Studies Academy at Pinole Valley High School, forwarded an encouraging review after a community event: “When Tesia (a junior) returned she was so full of questions and ideas about college. She said, ‘I want to be part of the solution!' Since that time she has worked with EarthTeam's Eco-Stewards program on shoreline restoration and a tunicate project in the San Francisco Bay.”

EarthTeam Environmental Network is one of 30 nonprofits endorsed by the National Forum on Children and Nature, a diverse group of public and private leaders which formed a nationwide effort to reconnect children to nature. REI collaborated in the Forum. Of the more than 500 proposals submitted for consideration, Eco-Stewards was judged as creatively connecting low-income youth with nature that serves as a model for other regions.

About EarthTeam Environmental Network
Created in 2000, EarthTeam is a collaborative network connecting Bay Area teenagers, teachers and youth leaders with numerous environmental, educational, and government organizations. EarthTeam's mission is to create a new generation of environmental leaders by introducing into the classroom and the community environmental experiences that are so active and engaging that they inspire dedication to a healthy environment. Through a commitment to deliver quality projects through partnerships, EarthTeam helps students think globally by using the vast amount of information offered, connect regionally by working with students from other communities whether on joint projects, at special events or on the Web site, and act locally in community-based projects.

About the REI Foundation
The REI Foundation was founded and supported by Recreational Equipment, Inc. in 1993. The Foundation's mission concentrates on helping to ensure that tomorrow's outdoor enthusiasts and conservation stewards reflect the diversity of America. The REI Foundation has provided grants to other organizations stemming from recommendations and collaboration with the National Forum on Children and Nature. Additional supported programs include the National Audubon Society in New York and New York Green Stops Partnership, a coalition of nonprofits including New York Restoration Project, Solar One, Sustainable South Bronx, and Mount Sinai Center for Children's Environmental Health in New York.

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