REI Foundation Establishes the Mary Anderson Legacy Grant to Celebrate 100th birthday

The REI Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supported by outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI, has established the Mary Anderson Legacy Grant in celebration of the company co-founder’s 100th birthday.

The REI Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supported by outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI, has established the Mary Anderson Legacy Grant in celebration of the company co-founder’s 100th birthday. The annual grant will recognize the contributions that Anderson made in the lives of young people during her years as a teacher, over her years of working at REI and through her life-long love of the outdoors.

The Foundation will award the first $50,000 Mary Anderson Legacy Grant in 2010 in support of efforts that actively engage young people in learning about nature through hands-on engagement and exploration of the outdoors. The Mary Anderson Legacy Grant will be presented annually by the REI Foundation.

“We are forever grateful to Mary for her passion to introduce people to the wonders of nature. At 100 years young, Mary is an inspiration to me, REI employees and outdoor enthusiasts everywhere,” said Sally Jewell, REI president and CEO. “From her career as an educator to helping operate the co-op from the attic of her Seattle home, Mary’s selfless energy and involvement will be recognized for years to come through the REI Foundation.”

On Dec. 7, 1909, Mary (Gaiser) Anderson was born in Washington’s Yakima Valley, where her family enjoyed regular walks and hikes together. As a teacher in Seattle during the 1930s, Mary used nature as an extension of her classroom to enrich the lives and learning of her students. For more than 30 years, she continued to connect people to nature through her work at REI.

REI was founded as a co-op in 1938 by Mary and her husband, Lloyd Anderson, and 21 mountaineering friends in Seattle. Today, the co-op is an active community partner with 110 stores, nearly 10,000 employees and more than 3.7 million active members.

In honor of Mary’s centennial birthday, Governor Christine Gregoire and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels each proclaimed, Dec. 7, as “Mary Anderson Day” across the State of Washington and City of Seattle.

REI celebrated Mary and her legacy at its headquarters on Dec. 8 at an event that included past company presidents and retired employees who worked with Mary in REI’s early years. The celebration also featured the co-op’s annual Anderson Awards. Since its inception in 2002, the Anderson Awards are presented annually to employees who exemplify the values of Lloyd and Mary and the co-op’s purpose and core values.

The co-op continues the Andersons’ legacy by helping millions of enthusiasts enjoy the outdoors, engaging more people in discovering beautiful, natural places and promoting the benefits of a healthy, active outdoor lifestyle. Across the country, REI partners with local non-profit outdoor and conservation organizations through education, volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.

About the REI Foundation

The REI Foundation was founded and supported by Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) in 1993. The Foundation's mission is to help ensure that tomorrow's outdoor enthusiasts and conservation stewards reflect the diversity of America. Recognizing that most people with a love of the outdoors discover the natural world early in their life, the Foundation's primary efforts are in encouraging active outdoor participation by young people and their families. The REI Foundation has provided grants to organizations stemming from recommendations and collaboration with the National Forum on Children and Nature, including EarthTeam Environmental Network in San Francisco, 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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Editor’s note: Photography of Mary Anderson is available by contacting REI Public Affairs at 253-437-7736 or The complete text of the “Mary Anderson Day” proclamations for the State of Washington State and City of Seattle are posted to REI’s newsroom,


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