BEACON, NY – Outdoor co-op REI announced that Clearwater will receive a $5,000 grant to support Clearwater’s Young Women at the Helm youth empowerment program. REI’s Force of Nature Fund is a comprehensive effort to advance gender equity in the outdoors, encouraging millions of its members to embrace the outdoors as “the world’s largest level playing field.”

“Clearwater is pleased to accept REI’s Force of Nature grant on behalf of our Young Women at the Helm program” said Wren Longno, Clearwater Director of Development. “Clearwater and REI share the common mission to drive forward young women in leadership roles from sloop captains, to adventurers to boardroom executives.”

Clearwater’s Young Women at the Helm (YW@H) program is a three-day intensive program onboard the sloop Clearwater. During this sailing and camping adventure along the Hudson River, 25 girls ages 15 to 18 from low-income and minority communities learn about ecology and pollution, navigation, maritime life and history. The YW@H program includes a variety of youth development activities including team building, reflection and writing, and music. The larger group of 25 girls is divided into “watches” that work together on a series of activity blocks to learn about the workings of the sloop and the Hudson River. These blocks include:

Navigation – navigational tools, steering and sailing theory
Maritime – knots, mechanical advantage, and simple machines
Ecology – life in the river from the bottom up
Watershed – watershed components, water quality testing and pollution

By the end of the program, each block performs one boat-related skill (such as docking the vessel, climbing aloft or raising sail) on their own. Two nights spent ashore involve meeting with guest speakers and role models who provide insights into potential career paths.
YW@H serves as a springboard for girls to take on increased responsibility as they grow in experience and mastery through Clearwater’s continuum of youth development programs.

REI is awarding $1M to nonprofits that create opportunities for women in the outdoors. REI’s president and CEO, Jerry Stritzke said, “The Force of Nature Fund helped us identify hundreds of organizations doing incredible work, and we’re proud to partner with our new grantees to learn and be inspired.”