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Collaboration
Clif Bar’s Clif Corps Partners with Venus Williams to Advance Equity and Access to Nature and Sport

The initiative kicks off with an event series from longtime partner Outdoor Afro, furthering its mission to inspire Black connections and leadership in nature.

Today, Clif Bar & Company launched a new effort through Clif® Corps — its longstanding, employee-led community service program — adding CLIF athletes to help foster equity and greater access to the outdoors and sports.

Clif Corps is partnering with tennis champion and entrepreneur Venus Williams and Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit organization Outdoor Afro in its mission to inspire Black connections and leadership in nature. The partnership will kick off a series of ongoing giving and service partnerships with community groups such as the National Park Service aimed at providing opportunities for individuals across the US to participate in activities otherwise deemed inaccessible or unwelcoming for economic, social or emotional reasons.

“I am honored to be part of this new chapter of Clif Corps, and to support Outdoor Afro’s work to show greater representation in the outdoor community,” Williams says. “Together, our goal is to make a meaningful impact to reconnect Black communities with the outdoors and sports through education, recreation and conservation.”

The positive impacts on our mental and physical health of time spent in nature is well-documented; and those benefits became particularly apparent during the pandemic: In a 2020 national survey, 70 percent of city-dwelling Americans agreed that local parks and green spaces were critical to their physical and mental wellbeing during COVID-19. What’s also well-documented is the lack of equity in terms of access to nature in urban areas, especially for people of color — who are three times more likely than the average US citizen to live in nature-deprived neighborhoods. Hence, the proliferation of efforts during the pandemic — from the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act and the launch of The North Face’s Explore Fund Council to the launch of the Tazo Tree Corps and 10 Minute Walk’s commitment to ensuring all people in US cities are within a 10-minute walk of safe, quality green space by 2050 — to create equitable access to nature and green space for underserved communities. The Clif Corps-Outdoor Afro partnership aims to build on these efforts.

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"A recent study led by Penn State found that 1 in 5 Americans have taken on a new outdoor hobby since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many Americans are unable to experience these benefits due to inequities in access to the outdoors and sports,” says CLIF VP of Brands Jodi Olson. “That’s why we are collaborating with Venus Williams and Outdoor Afro — two of our long-time partners — to enact change and break down systemic barriers, creating more diverse and inclusive activities for our communities.”

Outdoor Afro is offering a range of CLIF-supported outdoor experiences across the country. The events will include activities such as hiking, paddle boarding and kayaking with product and gear provided by CLIF. Some of the CLIF-sponsored Outdoor Afro events include:

  • Hike to Lake Haiyaha in Denver on August 27

  • Hiking through Red Mountain Park in Birmingham on September 3

  • Standup paddleboarding at Fish Lake Regional Park in Minneapolis on September 11

Clif Corps will continue to expand its athlete partnership program through upcoming initiatives with Olympic gymnast Sunisa Lee, Paralympic racing champion Daniel Romanchuk and others who are working to foster equitable access to sports and the outdoors. For more information on the first partnership with Venus Williams and Outdoor Afro, and for how you can get involved with Clif Corps’ efforts, visit www.clifbar.com/values.

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