The KEEN Effect We Caused in 2020
If KEEN ever conducted “business-as-usual,” 2020 broke the habit for good.
As we journeyed through the year, we, like many, lived the uncertainty of when we would see each other in person, how we could rise to join the Movement for Black Lives, and how we would stay safe through the double-whammy of pandemic-meets-natural disaster. We also met some new challenges more specific to our KEEN community: how to help our retailers across the country re-open safely, how to support a cohort of amazing KEEN Effect grantees that lost all opportunity to bring kids outdoors, and an intense longing to share happy hour tacos, beers and high-fives at the bike racks before our evening Portland commute.
But we did not wait out the storms with apathy or hopelessness. For every cause of concern, we created an effect to make things better. We continued our work in service to people, the planet, and our products with a newfound sense of purpose and immediacy brought on by the gravity of the year.
2020 was not the easiest way to learn about ourselves, but it taught us what gets us through hard times — our tradition of doing the right thing, showing up for others in their time of need, and teamwork. Or maybe it’s just being at home with our dogs all day. Probably a mix of both? Either way, we are humbled to share a year in review of our service to people and the planet, all acts of love made possible together by your purchases of KEEN products, a tradition we call The KEEN Effect. Here's a snapshot:
PEOPLE: Standing Up for Others
2020 was a watershed year to advocate for human rights: the right to vote, for safety, to connect to nature, and to breathe. As COVID hit, we not only moved quick to donate 200,000 pairs of shoes and 100,000 masks to frontline workers, we also moved our KEEN Effect Youth Grants into its 6th year, supporting 7 non-profits reconnecting a generation of children lost indoors, even though they were, in spite of it all, mostly still stuck indoors.
Just after, the growing Movement for Black Lives brought us to a reckoning, that we must speak louder and stand in solidarity against white supremacy. We took action with strong public statements, as well as a new grant program focused on providing safe space for BIPOC communities in the outdoors near Portland.
Our Vote Love campaign took us into the fall by encouraging our fans to engage in the democratic process, helping our partner HeadCount register their 1 millionth voter in the highest voter turnout election in American history.
As COVID resurged during the holidays, so did our mask donation, with an additional 20,000 masks donated via our longtime partner, All Hands and Hearts, to community relief efforts in Los Angeles.
PLANET: CLIMATE CONSERVATION
We continued our work of conserving public lands for their inherent value, as a climate solution, as well as a refuge for all life, alongside longtime partners American Whitewater and Conservation Alliance. Our years-long work secured permanent authorization and full funding for America’s largest publicly funded conservation vehicle, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, through the landmark Great American Outdoors Act. Although much of our on-the-ground stewardship of public and Native lands were cancelled due to COVID, 2020 conservation victories from Conservation Alliance grantees more than made up for it by successfully protecting 11,594 acres of public land.
We also had the newfound pleasure of virtual lobbying (much better than flying!), joining the Protect Our Winters Action Fund alongside 60 athletes, scientists, activists, and outdoor industry leaders to advocate for climate legislation like investing in a clean energy economy, clean transportation, and to reduce emissions from public lands like the Arctic Refuge.
All of this work has newfound importance after responding to so many unbelievable wildfires, first in Australia at the start of the year, and then right in our own backyards in California, Oregon, and Washington, for both of which we launched global fundraising campaigns totaling $110,000 in relief to people and ecosystems.
PRODUCT: CONSCIOUSLY CREATED
With our product sustainability work, we once again successfully eliminated 100% of all biocides from our footwear. This change prevented more than 15,400 lbs per year of biocides going into the broader environment. Instead of adding known carcinogens to fight foot odor, we used a non-toxic, safe bacteria (lacto-bacilius) to fight the microbes that cause common foot odors. Over the last 7 years we have steered clear of 108,000 lbs of carcinogens like these, a feat we hope to see adopted by others in the industry.
We also worked as hard as ever to keep 100% of PFAS chemicals out of every aspect of our supply chain. PFAS are known carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic, and bio-accumulative chemicals commonly found in footwear, and so this continues to be our longest and most complicated detoxification project in our history, bar none! As far as we know, this has never been accomplished anywhere else in our industry, so it takes constant vigilance to keep these chemicals at bay.
In 2021, we look forward to causing an even bigger effect, working together with you on building more inclusivity and access to outdoor spaces, as well as protecting our planet’s climate and ecosystems. Thanks for being there with us every step of the way.
The KEEN Effect You Helped Cause in 2020
• Donated 100,000 shoes to frontline workers, including warehouse and grocery workers, first responders, teachers, nurses, and doctors
• Gave 200,000 masks to even more everyday heroes, such as grocery store clerks and their families, early in the pandemic
• Helped HeadCount register its 1 millionth voter, together with the Jerry Garcia Foundation
• Built a tiny home in a new full-service homeless veteran community in Longmont, Colorado
• Awarded our first Stand Grant to local favorite Wild Diversity, providing a safe space for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities in the outdoors of the Pacific Northwest
• Helped reconnect a generation of children to the outdoors through our Youth Grant program, funding and booting up 7 youth organizations in California, Oregon, Florida, North Carolina, Illinois, Georgia, and the UK
• Supported Los Angeles families in need by donating 20,000 masks to longtime partner All Hands and Hearts’ COVID-19 Relief Program
• Helped the Forest Park Conservancy create its first DEI-focused trail ambassador program, bringing greater community education and inclusion to Forest Park trail users, volunteers, and supporters
• Educated fans on how to get back outside safely and recreate responsibly with a livestream Instagram series with all of our core non-profit partners
• Provided custom-built retail floor COVID shields to our small business retail partners to help them reopen safely
• Donated cash and shoes to support firefighters and wildlife through Australia Bushfire Relief efforts
• Sent KEEN Utility boots to post-earthquake school builders in Nepal as part of a Backpacker x All Hands Nepal collab expedition
• Advocated for better climate legislation — like investing in a clean energy economy, clean transportation, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions from public lands — with Protect Our Winters and 60 other athletes, scientists, activists, and outdoor industry leaders
• Worked with American Whitewater and other non-profits to help secure full funding for America’s largest publicly funded conservation vehicle, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, with the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act
• Protected 11,594 acres of public land through funding for 2020 Conservation Alliance granted projects
• Donated 1% of global sales for one week to support wildfire survivors and evacuees in California, Oregon, and Washington.