There’s nothing quite like the inspiration that comes from connecting to nature. In fact, David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah found that a “three-day effect” of being outside for 72 hours gives your prefrontal cortex (the brain’s command centre) a big rest, allowing your senses to recalibrate and improving your creative problem-solving ability by around 50 percent. In short, being outside has amazing health benefits.
So, if you’re riding that feel-good creative wave after your last hike, paddle or ski session, it’s not so surprising that you might come up with a brilliant idea – a trip no one has ever done before, a way to support people with outdoor gear, or a project that changes perceptions or breaks down barriers of how to get outside.
We are committed to fueling that passion. In fact, to date MEC has proudly donated a total of $37 million to community groups and we’re not slowing down. Here are five ways to get your stroke of genius funded by MEC:
1. Attend a Think Outside Summit
Outdoor Nation is MEC’s program dedicated to getting more young Canadians active outdoors. At the weekend-long Think Outside Summits, new outdoor ideas aimed at getting a bigger, more diverse crew of 18–35-year-olds outside come alive. In addition to hearing from inspiring speakers, you’ll get help from local entrepreneurs and a panel of experts to refine your ideas. The top pitches (as judged by our panel) will receive funding to help you get your vision off the ground – up to $5000 per project. Apply to attend a weekend near you on our summits page.
2. Apply for a spring or fall grant
MEC conducts two grant cycles annually with support up to $20,000 per grant. We have two main guidelines: first, we support programs and initiatives that either identify and reduce barriers to outdoor activity and increase the community of active outdoor enthusiasts. Second, we look for ways to teach responsible outdoor recreation practices and environmental stewardship. Your project or program must focus on one of MEC’s core activities: hiking, camping, climbing, skiing, snowshoeing, paddling, yoga, running or cycling.
Maybe you want to help your triathlon club inspire people to reach their full potential, educate people on the ins and outs of a complicated hike, or help youth get into mountain biking. We look for projects and programs that minimize environmental impact, state goals in a clear and measurable way, have long-term impacts and viability, as well as follow a realistic budget. Get all the details on our spring and fall grants page and our grants FAQ page.
3. Do something that’s never been done
Want to pave a new route, summit a new peak, paddle remote rivers, cycle vast distances or ski backcountry basins? Maybe you have a crazy dream to paraglide from BC to Alberta, mountain bike in Northern India, or complete the first-ever continuous ski traverse of the Canadian Selkirks. These epic adventures and feats are a huge inspiration to the MEC community.
Expedition funding is for unique approaches, first ascents or descents, self-propelled adventures and remote explorations. Eligible recipients must be active MEC members, well prepared and totally self-reliant. In exchange for funding and gear support, we ask for a trip report (which may end up being shared with the MEC community) and photos or video of your adventure. Get more details on our expedition support page.
4. Apply for a product donation
Want to raise funds for your organization or reward hardworking volunteers? Grassroots product donations up to $200 in MEC gift cards are available to groups who reduce barriers to outdoor activity, grow the outdoor community, teach responsible outdoor recreation practices, or promote environmental stewardship. Your initiative must fall within MEC’s core activities: hiking, camping, climbing, skiing, snowshoeing, paddling, yoga, running or cycling. Check out all the nitty gritty details on our product donations page.
5. Gear up young Canadians
If you’re serious about getting a more diverse crew of 18–35-year-olds active outdoors, tell us about your big idea and we might help support it via gear donations (up to $500 in retail value), rental gear or gift cards. Make it creative and make it doable. Note: these donations do not have to fall within MEC’s core activities. Get all the details on our Outdoor Nation funding page.
MEC funding is all about bringing people together, inspiring more Canadians to lead active outdoor lifestyles and having good times outside. Ready to get started?