Merrell and Big Brothers Big Sisters Partner to Bring the Power of the Outside to More Youth



The partnership aims to impact nearly 200,000 youth in over 6,000 communities in the United States and Canada to have greater accessibility to the outdoors while becoming lifelong stewards of outside spaces.

Toronto, ON and Mississauga, ON (January 14, 2021) – Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) and Merrell are joining forces in a multi-year partnership that will harness the power of being outside and make it more accessible to more youth. Merrell, known for its outdoor and lifestyle footwear and apparel, will be a premieroutdoor industry partner of BBBS and will work with the national one-to-one mentoring organizations to create life-changing connections for young people in the United States and Canada.

The BBBS mentoring program pairs young people (called ‘Little Brothers’ or ‘Little Sisters’) with caring adult mentors (called ‘Big Brothers’ or ‘Big Sisters’). The goal of the partnership with Merrell is to break down the barriers to the outdoors that youth face while providing outside activities for Bigs and Littles to enjoy together. With heightened time spent indoors and behind screens due to societal changes and the COVID-19 pandemic, Merrell and BBBS are committed to encouraging and providing youth access to the outdoors in order for them to reap the imperative mental and physical health benefits time outside provides.

In addition to a financial contribution to BBBS and outdoor gear to youth in the mentoring programs, the partnership will bring more awareness and increase equity for all youth, who may not have adequate access to nature, natural parks, or public trails. The need for connecting is even stronger now, with young people facing social isolation due to the pandemic.

“For many of the young people in our program, simply walking to the park isn’t a possibility,” said Artis Stevens, incoming President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. “It requires public transportation, extensive planning and sometimes it’s cost prohibitive to do something as simple as finding a safe place to go for a walk or ride a bike. Partners like Merrell see the value of leveling the playing field so all youth—regardless of their socio-economic status or where they live—have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.”

“We’ve seen research that shows early exposure to nature and green spaces can support mental and physical health,” said Matthew Chater, National President and CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. “And when you consider that many of the youth we serve are already facing adverse childhood experiences —trauma, abuse or neglect— having this type of outlet for their well-being can make a long-lasting, positive impact on their lives.”

“Our purpose at Merrell is to share the simple power of being outside with everyone. We believe the earlier you get outside the better – hopefully to reap a lifetime of the physical and emotional benefits of the outdoors,” said Chris Hufnagel, Global Brand President of Merrell. “Our partnership with BBBS will bring together our joint missions of getting more youth the access they otherwise would not have in order to foster a lifelong connection to our outside spaces, whether it’s a local park or your front yard.”

The partnership will develop guides, resources, and activations to give Bigs and Littles opportunities to get outside, with elevated campaigns during times such as Great Outdoors Month in June, as well as Merrell’s 40th birthday celebration happening throughout the year. During Big Brothers Big Sisters Month in September, Bigs and Littles will have the opportunity to participate in the Step Further Challenge, an interactive activity to track outdoor activities and compete with others.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada
Established 106 years ago, the mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada is to enable life-changing mentoring relationships to ignite the power and potential of young people. Big Brothers Big Sisters provides one-on-one and group mentoring services for more than 40,000 children and youth in 1,100 communities across Canada. Many young people face adversities in their lives, resulting in toxic stress that can negatively impact their development. With the support of a mentor, young people can overcome these adversities and develop the confidence to reach their full potential. Visit for more information.

About Merrell 

Merrell® exists to share the simple power of being outside. As the global leader in outdoor active footwear with the Moab hiking boot and Jungle Moc, Merrell is focused on merging performance, styling, and comfort to empower all people to confidently explore the outdoors. Merrell is celebrating its 40th birthday in 2021 with a mission to build an inclusive and sustainable outside environment for future generations to enjoy. Visit, the Merrell Newsroom, or follow us on social @Merrell.  Merrell® is a division of Wolverine World Wide (NYSE: WWW), one of the world’s leading marketers and licensors of branded casual, active lifestyle, work, outdoor sport, athletic, children’s and uniform footwear and apparel.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

Founded in 1904, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is the largest and most experienced youth mentoring organization in the United States. The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Big Brothers Big Sisters’ evidence-based approach is designed to create positive youth outcomes, including educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, higher aspirations, greater confidence, and improved relationships. Big Brothers Big Sisters has 230+ local agencies serving more than 5,000 communities across all 50 states. For more information, visit:

Media Contacts:

Marie-Lauren Gregoire Drummond
National Director, Marketing and Communications
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada

1-800-263-9133 ext. 47

Jamie Leach
Public Relations Specialist

Stella Law
Marketing Manager
Merrell Canada

De Anna S. Ward
Director of Marketing and Communications
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America