Header photo taken during NYC ICO's volunteer hike at OutdoorFest 2014
The season of giving has officially arrived (today is #GivingTuesday) and with it, the opportunity to support the organizations doing work you support. As we know, there are plenty of city-based non-profits and foundations which provide access to and protect the outdoor areas we’ve come to cherish and love. This year, consider supporting one of the following organizations by giving monetary or in-kind donations, or shopping through AmazonSmile:
Mission: “With a special focus on communities of need, NYRP works in public parks, housing projects, vacant lots, schools, on sidewalks, the waterfront, and in our own community gardens. Our comprehensive approach to urban land management includes community engagement, capital construction, cultural programming, landscape maintenance, and environmental education. Together, these efforts impact the city on multiple scales, from one small block to all five boroughs.”
How they do it: Through the MillionTreesNYC initiative in partnership with NYC parks, running and revitalizing 52 community gardens, and the restoration of under-resourced parks and the Harlem River waterfront. Community engagement and education, through free workshops and youth programs, plays a major role in NYRP’s work—last year, almost 5,500 volunteers participated in NYRP opportunities.
Four star charity rating—82 cents on the dollar funds programming directly.
Through December 31st, founder Bette Midler will match contributions up to $100,000.
Ways to donate: Monetary donations are accepted online. Sponsor a tree with a $100+ donation.
Mission: “New York City Audubon is a grassroots community that works for the protection of wild birds and habitat in the five boroughs, improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers.” (NYC Audobon is an independent non-profit affiliated with the National Audobon Society).
How they do it: Conservation, advocacy, and education programs collect data about wild birds in the city and work to improve their habitats by engaging politicians and informing the public. NYC Audobon works in three geographic areas—Jamaica Bay, Staten Island, and Western Long Island Sound—and publishes “Issues of Concern” about conservation and the impact on birds and wildlife. The organization also runs Project Safe Flight to help birds migrate through the city safely, and Lights Out New York, which advocates for turning off nighttime interior lighting to avoid bird collisions.
Additionally, NYC Audobon Society offers information about birding in the city, as well as a range of events including lectures, volunteer opportunities, and local and international trips.
Choose which program or geographic region your money supports.
Items purchased at their online store support their work.
Mission: The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the the protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network.
How they do it: They have various water conservation programs like Beach Access, Blue Water Task Force, Know Your H2O, Ocean Friendly Gardens, Ocean Protection, Quad: Youth Outreach Program and Rise Above Plastics. For example- Rise Above Plastics is designed to eliminate the impacts of plastics in the marine environment by raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and by advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics.
The site has an exclusive partnership with Swell - a company specializing in sustainable clothing and accessories. Once a person becomes a Surfrider member, they get 20% discount on Swell orders; 100% of all proceeds fund Surfrider’s mission to help and ensure beach access, clean water and shreddable waves for all.
The foundation has 221 local campaigns, 21 regional campaigns, 30 state campaigns and 9 national campaigns at present. It has even won 290 campaigns related to clean water, beach preservation, beach access and protecting special places, since January 1,2006.
Mission: “The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is a federation of member clubs and individuals dedicated to providing recreational hiking opportunities in the region and representing the interests and concerns of the hiking community. The Conference is a volunteer-directed public service organization committed to:
Developing, building, and maintaining hiking trails;
Protecting hiking trail lands through support and advocacy;
Educating the public in the responsible use of trails and the natural environment.”
How they do it: Through their partnerships with parks, and their members and volunteers, NYNJTC has created, protected, and promoted over 2,000 miles of public trails (in 2013, they had over 1,000 volunteers and 10,000 members). Additionally, they offer workshops about trail maintenance, shelter building, and other subjects to increase knowledge and skills regarding trails, provide trail alerts and news, and run an Invasive Strike Force to protect native habitats. The organization also publishes maps and guide books.
Four star Charity Rating.
When donating, choose what region you’d like to support.
Ways to donate: Make a one-time donation or become a sponsor here.
Looking for a gift for the hiker in your life? Support NYNJTC by purchasing maps or guidebooks.
Mission: “Adaptive Climbing Group is a community for people with disabilities to have opportunities to inclusively participate in the sport of climbing.”
How they do it: Incorporated in 2013, Adaptive Climbing Group holds Thursday and Sunday sessions, and hosts indoor and outdoor climbing clinics. The organization also sponsored professional Para Climbing athletes Ronnie Dickson and Craig DeMartino this past year.
Standout Features: There is a high demand for the programs the Adaptive Climbing Group offers, which has resulted in their exponential growth from a one-time clinic in 2012 to a non-profit a year later. Opportunities have also been implemented in Massachusetts.
Mission: “Recycle-A-Bicycle (RAB) utilizes the bicycle as a resource to foster youth development, environmental education, community engagement, and healthy living.”
How they do it: RAB operates two storefronts and an education center, as well as 17 school-based programs. Through a number of youth programs, students learn bicycle repair mechanics, participate in a ride club, practice environmental stewardship through recycling and advocacy work, and use the skills they learn to benefit others. The Earn-a-Bike program also allows teens to volunteer after school to earn a bike frame and build a bike.
Last year, 1,000 youth refurbished 500 bicycles, and 1,800 salvaged bicycles prevented 45,000 pounds of waste from reaching landfills.
Monetary donations directly support youth programs.
Proceeds from bicycle sales and services at stores benefit programs.
RAB participates in Amazon Smile—add RAB to your Amazon Smile so you can shop online and give back at the same time.
Mission: “Row New York empowers young people from New York City’s under-resourced communities to build strength, gain confidence, and pursue excellence through the unique sport of rowing.”
How they do it: Row New York’s main program combines academic support, including tutoring, SAT prep, and college prep, with rowing for middle school and high school students—99% of their graduates attend college, and over 50% of them have received full or partial academic or rowing scholarships. Row New York also offers summer camps, indoor rowing (at schools and juvenile detention centers), and a para-rowing program for middle school students with cognitive or physical disabilities. Altogether, over 2,000 youth participate in Row New York programming.
While most of their work focuses on youth, Row New York also offers adult and teambuilding programs.
Donations directly support programming including access to experienced coaches, tutors, and social workers.
Ways to donate: Contribute financially through their website.
Mission: “The Brooklyn Boulders Foundation elevates the public by offering greater access to the sport of rock climbing. Community involvement will encourage positive educational and recreational experiences to help develop self-confidence, resiliency, and the ability to succeed.”
How they do it: BKBF works with high schools through the City Rocks program by partnering students with mentors. Together, students and mentors spend at least 4 hours together a month climbing, playing games, helping with homework, and more. BKBF also provides funding for the Adaptive Climbing Group. The organization continues to grow to serve more youth.
BKBF formed to be able to serve the schools, families, and clubs looking to climb and provide access to the gym.
BKBF runs Climb-a-Thons for non-profits and schools to raise money for the charity of their choice.
Mission: New York City Inspiring Outdoor Connections is a community outreach program of the Sierra Club that provides opportunities for urban youth to explore enjoy and protect the natural world.
How they do it: Children who grow up in the inner city can find it extremely difficult to gain access to the outdoors. Obstacles include financial constraints and transportation difficulties, as well as a lack of awareness of the opportunities available to them. NYC ICO believes that the wilderness exists as a resource for everyone. They are a 100 percent volunteer organization working to provide young people with outdoor recreational opportunities, leadership training, positive group experiences and environmental education, while imbuing in them a love of nature and the outdoors.
Once one attends 2 ICO outings, one may begin working on certification requirements to become an ICO Certified Leader.
The NYC ICO program has no overhead. It is 100% volunteer run. All the money donated goes in one way or another to supporting the kids that the club reaches.
It is in a collaboration with Red Rabbits. Now Red Rabbit delivers nutritious, farm-fresh breakfasts, lunches and snacks to independent and charter schools throughout New York City.
Ways to Donate: You can contribute online.