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How it started...

June 4, 2016, was an overcast day. Rain was expected. However, our founding executive director, Al, convinced 6 guests to try skydiving at an operation in upstate New York. 


It was a diverse group: A woman from Trinidad and Tobago. A man from Guyana. A French woman. A Nepalese woman. A Colombian woman. And a man from Puerto Rico.


The manager who herded the group through the waivers, safety video and payment was anxious all morning. By the time he took the group to get fitted for their harnesses, he'd already made some off-color remarks that had already made the group feel so on-edge, they almost canceled their plans and left. But the group was still excited about the experience and had already completed most of the preflight process, so they stayed. 


When it came time for the manager to deliver his version of a welcome speech, he made another awkward attempt to get friendly with the already-sensitive group by asking for introductions and where everyone was from. The first person he asked was the Puerto Rican, who proudly said, The Bronx!


The manager perked up because he was familiar with the Bronx. He proceeded to go on a monologue recounting the "good ol' days" when he and his uncles used to visit The Bronx to set fire to buildings. 


And that's what exclusion, entitlement and lack of sympathy sounds like. If you're not familiar with your Bronx history, what this manager had just admitted to a Puerto Rican from the Bronx was one of the most tragic and racist parts of NYC history. And this experience is more common across every outdoor activity than you would expect.

Across nearly every category of outdoor activity - snowsports, water sports, even hiking and camping - about 70% of participants are white. And that's not an accident; current participants are not always welcoming of others who do not look like them.

In fact, a Penn State study* bears this out. Because of pandemic, a full 13% of U.S. adults stopped participating in outdoor activities altogether.

And according to that study, that group "were significantly more diverse, tended to reside in more urban environments, and earned less annually than existing or new recreationists."

So why'd they stop getting outdoors? They didn't feel safe or welcome, like our skydiving group.


Why does this matter? The outdoor recreation industry in the United States is worth approximately $900 billion and represents nearly 2% of the national GDP**. If the outdoor recreation industry made that 13% feel more welcome, it would potentially add an additional $360 billion more in sales***.

How it's going...

The Everyone Is Welcome Fund (The Welcome Fund) was established in 2020 by Outerthere Adventures as a social enterprise with the mission of identifying obstacles to participating in outdoor activities and developing a clear framework for the outdoor recreation industry for removing those obstacles. 


The Welcome Fund advocates and takes action through programs including its Welcome Pledge and Welcome Score.


Take the Pledge or donate today.


*Source: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected outdoor recreation in America?

**Total consumer spending in 2017 based on an Outdoor Industry Assn report [PDF] and 2020 BEA analysis.

***Welcome Fund estimates.

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