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How it started...

The skydiving manager was anxious all morning.

He ran between different groups with a mix of formalities (waivers, safety video, and payment) and jokes.

One group was particularly diverse, representing Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, France, Nepal, Colombia, and Puerto Rico) and the managers jokes werw awkward and falling flat.

While fitting the group for their harnesses, he made some off-color remarks that made the group feel so uncomfortable, they considered canceling on the spot. They did not feel that this manager could be trusted. 

They stayed because they really wanted this experience. The manager was oblivious. 

During the preflight instructions, the manager made a final attempt to get friendly with the already-sensitive group by asking everyone's names and where everyone was from. 

The first person he asked was the Puerto Rican, who proudly said, The Bronx!  

The manager knew the Bronx and told the group why. He reminisced about the "good old' days" when he and his uncles visited The Bronx to set fire to buildings. 

If you're not familiar with your Bronx history, what this manager did was proudly admit to an active role in one of the most tragic and racist episodes in New York City history.

Suffice it to say, no one in our group ever went sky diving again. 

Managers like this are more common across every outdoor activity than they should be. And there attempts at being relatable is so bad that according to a study by Pennsylvania State University, 13% of U.S. adults stopped participating in outdoor activities altogether because they simply did not feel welcome.


The study also revealed that the 13% "were significantly more diverse, tended to reside in more urban environments, and earned less annually than existing or new recreationists." 

Across the country, the outdoor recreation industry in the United States - which includes snow sports, water sports, even hiking and camping - is worth approximately $900 billion and represents nearly 2% of the national GDP.

In New York alone, the outdoor recreation industry created $21.1 billion in economic activity in 2020 and supports over 241,000 jobs with $13.1 billion in compensation.

Accordingly, if the outdoor recreation industry made that 13% feel more welcome, it would potentially add $360 billion more in economic activity while improving marginalized communities' sense of belonging in a very exclusive industry*.

How it's going...

The Everyone Is Welcome Fund (the Welcome Fund) was established in 2020 as the social enterprise extension of Outerthere Adventures.

Our mission is to identify systemic obstacles to participating in outdoor activities and develop services for a clear, more inclusive framework for the outdoor recreation industry to remove those obstacles.

Our goal is to diversify the outdoor recreation industry, by increasing opportunities and access for diverse guides and their communities.

Areas we're active in:

  • Industry Engagement: Programs originating at the Welcome Fund include List My Trip and the Host Accelerator Program. Programs currently in beta include The Welcome Pledge and The Welcome Score. Additional areas of interest include economic empowerment and workforce development.

  • User Engagement: Programs currently in beta include the Additional areas of interest include community building and mental health.


Take the Pledge or donate today.


*Welcome Fund estimates based on a 2017 Outdoor Industry Association report [PDF] and 2020 BEA analysis.

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