OutdoorFest aims to create a community of New York's urban-based outdoor enthusiasts.

May 29-June 9


Our #GivingTuesday List

Our #GivingTuesday List

By Gillian Bower

It’s #GivingTuesday, making it the perfect opportunity to support the city-based non-profits and foundations which provide access to and protect the outdoor areas we’ve come to cherish and love.  The following organizations are a few of those that you can not only support with donations today, but throughout the year by volunteering your time—find out how you can give below!



Mission: “Our mission is to inspire teens who are the most vulnerable, to believe in themselves through action sports. We believe that riding a wave, building a skateboard, and gliding down snowy mountains can show teens that they are capable of greatness, despite the odds against them.”

How they do it:  STOKED works with middle school and high school students in underserved communities to level the playing field created by income inequality through action sports (snowboarding, skateboarding, and surfing)—these opportunities help youth develop resilience, self-reliance, and community. STOKED mentors work with the teens and take them on day trips that teach outside the classroom.

Standout Features: Provides meaningful investment in youth through their 4 year program “STOKED for Success.”

Ways to give: Become a mentor—STOKED is currently looking for Snow Mentors to start in January. Or donate online. Come to December Mappy Hour to meet current mentors and donate through a giving circle. 


Recycle-a-Bicycle (Now part of Bike New York)

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.

Standout Features:

  • On average, RAB salvages 1,800 bikes and diverts 45,000 pounds of waste from landfills, annually.
  • Proceeds from bicycle sales and services at stores benefit programs.

Ways to give: Make a monetary donation online, or stop by a store to donate a bike or other tools.  Or pick up a gift for the cyclist in your life at one of their stores. RAB also offers weekly volunteer opportunities (choose "Bike Mechanic Night") in Brooklyn and Long Island City.

RAB participates in Amazon Smile—add RAB to your Amazon Smile so you can shop online and give back at the same time.


Brooklyn Boulders Foundation

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.

Standout Features:

  • BKBF formed to be able to serve the schools, families, and clubs looking to climb and provide access to the gym.
  • BKBF creates community, encourages acceptance and teaches responsibility using climbing as a catalyst

Ways to give: Donate online, become a volunteer  or apply to be a mentor. BKBF also participates in Amazon Smile.


Sierra Club ICO

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.

Standout Features:

  • 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.

Ways to give: Contribute online, or email newvolunteer.nycico@gmail.com for volunteer opportunities.

Row New York

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 team building programs.

Standout FeaturesDonations directly support programming including access to experienced coaches, tutors, and social workers.

Ways to donate: Contribute financially through their website.


Natural Areas Conservancy

Mission: "The Natural Areas Conservancy is a champion of NYC’s 20,000 acres of forests and wetlands for the benefit and enjoyment of all. Our team of scientists and experts promote nature’s diversity and resilience across the five boroughs, working in close partnership with the City of New York."

How they do it: NAC helps to ensure healthy forests and improve coastline resistance through on the ground work, planting trees, rebuilding dunes and marshes and creating tools for long-term management and restoration. They're also known for their regional conservation tools and knowledge.

Standout Features:

  • NAC hosts free public events throughout the year to bring New Yorkers closer to nature and educate on restoration attempts.
  • The Robert Wilson Charitable Foundation matches 50% of all donations so your money goes even further! 

Ways to give: Donate directly online. Or you can email Nicole (nicole.brownstein@parks.nyc.gov ) if your company or organization wants to do a group volunteer project.

Greenbelt Conservancy

Mission: The Greenbelt Conservancy in a non-profit working alongside NYC Parks to “promote, sustain, and enhance Staten Island’s 2,800-acre Greenbelt through education, recreation, conservation and research”.

How they do it: The Greenbelt Conservancy provides environmental education programs for all ages, natural resource management such as trail maintenance and plant and wildlife monitoring, and special community events including trail runs and festivals.

Standout Features: Visited by over one million people annually, the Greenbelt includes New York City’s largest remaining forest preserve, is home to tidal and fresh water wetlands, and features 35 miles of rugged trails, and a 2 mile perimeter multi-use path. The Greenbelt Conservancy works to support, promote, and protect this natural resource.

Ways to give: There are many ways to donate monetarily, including a variety of membership and sponsorship opportunities. For volunteer opportunities, contact Jeanne Doyle Paliswiat at 718-667-2165, ext. 311 or by email at jeanne.paliswiat@parks.nyc.gov. Or attend an event, such as their Annual Holiday Party on December 7!


NYC Surfrider Foundation

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.

Standout Features:  The foundation has 67 local campaigns, 12 regional campaigns, 24 state campaigns and 7 national campaigns at present. It has even won 443 campaigns related to clean water, beach preservation, beach access and protecting special places, since January 1, 2006. 

Ways to give: You can become a member on this webpage or make other monetary donations. Surfrider is always looking for volunteers to help their conservation efforts—more info here.

For more ideas on conservation check out the offMetro Guide to Giving Back to the Environment


New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

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.

Standout Features:

  • Four star Charity Rating.
  • When donating, choose what region you’d like to support.

Ways to give:  Make a one-time donation or become a sponsor here. Find information about volunteer opportunities and opportunities to learn more about trail maintenance here.

Looking for a gift for the hiker in your life?  Support NYNJTC by purchasing maps or guidebooks.


Downtown Boathouse

Mission:  The Downtown Boathouse provides free public access to the New York City harbor through kayaking with the goal “to encourage safe public use of the harbor waters of New York City and thereby provide residents of this space-constrained city with increased recreational opportunities.”

How they do it: The Downtown Boathouse offers free lessons, as well as longer trips for experienced kayakers.

Standout Features: The Downtown Boathouse is an all-volunteer non-profit, and all donations directly benefit programs.

Ways to give: Programming is done for the season, but you can learn more about next season’s volunteer opportunities here and sign up for the mailing list.

Donate monetarily online or become a member. The Downtown Boathouse also accepts kayaking equipment to use in their programs.


Exhale to Inhale

Mission: “Founded by a yogi, supported by the yoga community, and guided by professionals with experience working with domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, Exhale to Inhale strives to empower women who have experienced intimate partner violence and sexual assault heal and reclaim their lives.”

How they do it:  Exhale to Inhale provides weekly Trauma-informed yoga classes at domestic violence shelters and community centers. Through yoga, Exhale to Inhale empowers women affected by sexual assault by giving them the skills to heal physically and emotionally so they can end the cycle of violence in their families and communities.

Standout Features:

  • Donations directly support the programming that serves survivors.
  • Exhale to Inhale partners with local community groups, shelters, yoga studios, and businesses in New York, the Hudson Valley, Connecticut, and Los Angeles. To date, over 800 women have been served.

Ways to give: Make a one-time or recurring donation here. Take a yoga class at a local studio which benefits Exhale to Inhale, or if you are a yoga teacher, sign up for a training to volunteer for the organization.

More suggestions? Comment below! 

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