Marking the fifth anniversary of the KEEN Effect grant programme, this grant cycle puts a call out to grassroots organisations and not for profits across the world that work locally to build stronger communities and a healthier planet. With a total of eighteen awards being issued for 2018, KEEN lend their support to organisations that promote getting people outside to responsibly enjoy the outdoors. An integral element of KEEN’s # Bettertakesaction campaign, the KEEN.EFFECT is a key pillar of the brand, built around their longstanding philosophy that doing good, giving back and reducing impact through actions big and small can make a better world.
The KEEN Effect grant programme has always been about protecting open spaces through empowering vulnerable communities. Since 2017, it has narrowed its focus to exclusively support projects that bring the world’s youth into these open spaces for recreation, nature-based learning, and environmental stewardship.
KEEN believe passionately that all environments, from the wilderness to the city, are human-influenced, and that the values our children carry into adulthood will undoubtedly define the kinds of protections and management principles with which our open spaces are governed. What’s more, increasing a child’s exposure to positive (or challenging) outdoor experiences can not only instill a positive sense of place but can also directly impact the life of a ,child in so many unique ways, spanning decreased stress levels to improving body composition or even the development of leadership skills.
The 2018 grantees come from 6 different countries, and work with a wide variety of audiences, from homeless children on the streets of Minneapoli to rural village schoolchildren in Malawi, through to developmentally challenged children in Boston and Thailand. All these grassroots, nonprofit, change-makers collectively will bring over 60,000 children outside for over 11,000 hours of play in, learning from, and care for the open spaces in which people thrive.
This year, KEEN are proud to be supporting London Based charity, Free to Be Kids. Their Thrive Outside programme works with some of the most disadvantaged children in London, using nature-based activities to build confidence and problem-solving skills, provide horizon-broadening experiences and deliver opportunities and support to young people to feel brave and talk more overtly about thoughts and feelings. The KEEN Effect grant will cover the cost of outdoor activities for 100 vulnerable children from inner-city London during their residential projects this Summer. With many of their service users struggling at school, home and with peers as a result of practical disadvantages such as homelessness/housing instability, poverty and parental mental health issues and historical trauma, without these projects, most wouldn’t otherwise have any safe spaces to play or positive activities to enjoy over the summer break.
Perry Laukens, Marketing Director EMEA commented: “The KEEN.Effect allows us to reach out to fans about what is important to them in their local communities and to support grass roots organisations that promote healthy outdoor lifestyles in a truly meaningful way. It is a privilege to learn about the amazing work of groups all across the world who are inspiring responsible outdoor participation, not only for communities today, but laying positive foundations for future generations to come.”
For Free to Be Kids, working with nature and in outdoor settings is a vital part of their work building young people’s confidence and helping them to reach their potential. The charity’s Co-Founder, Rachel Nichols said, “We know from experience that engaging children in new and exciting activities in beautiful outdoor settings captures their imaginations and creates a starting point for our volunteers to build positive relationships. This summer, the charity will benefit from over 5,750 volunteered hours. Thanks to the support of generous funders such as KEEN, all Free to Be’s work is provided at no cost to families.”.
As part of their continuing commitment to giving back, KEEN are also proud to announce the launch of their inaugural Critical Coastlines Grant Programme. This new initiative supports community-based or non-profit organisations from around the world working on projects to improve the resilience of coastal ecosystems through interventions that help both the community and coastal ecosystems adapt to emerging threats. Threats relevant to this programme include ecosystem collapse, climate change, rising sea levels, ocean pollution, ocean acidification, overfishing, and natural disasters. Organisations and individuals may apply, with the nominations open from July until September 30, 2018. To apply visit https://www.keenfootwear.com/en-gb/grants.html
Since the brand’s inception in 2003, KEEN has supported many initiatives around the globe through their KEEN.Effect scheme, supporting grassroots not for profits partners through grants, shoe donations, and other support mechanisms, from hands-on employee activities that have included river clean ups and reef conservation. Since 2013 KEEN have worked with 90 not for profit organisations in 13 Countries through their grants programme alone.