GU Gives: A Legacy of Philanthropy and Environmental Commitment
At GU Energy Labs, our story is one of passion, perseverance, and a deep commitment to giving back to the community. For 30 years, our family-owned sports nutrition company has not only fueled athletes but has also fueled the spirit of philanthropy. GU Gives is our philanthropic giving program, a powerful expression of our commitment to investing in our communities and creating more access to nutrition, sport, and the beautiful outdoors.
2012: The Spark that Inspired GU Gives
The story of GU Gives began at the IRONMAN World Championship in 2012, in a moment that would change our perspective forever. It was there that we witnessed the incredible determination of a 77-year-old athlete as she crossed the finish line just seconds before the midnight cutoff. This moment, filled with electric energy, also exposed the heartbreak of athletes being told they wouldn't be official finishers.
A little later, in the darkness of that night, a lone figure emerged. Jeff Schmidt, an adaptive athlete, ran alone on Alii Drive at 12:30 am. He crossed the finish line, oblivious to the official time, driven by his relentless spirit. Only a few organizers, volunteers, and the GU Crew remained, deeply moved by the human achievement before them.
Seeing an athlete perform at such an extraordinary level yet miss out on official recognition deeply resonated with us. As a company dedicated to helping people move, this moment served as a poignant reminder of the impact we could make beyond providing sports nutrition products. It was this powerful "ah-ha moment," experienced during the middle of the night at Kona, that ignited the creation of GU Gives. This led us to our very first official GU Gives partnership with the Challenged Athletes Foundation. It marked the beginning of our journey to invest in our communities on a larger scale, driven by the desire to make a meaningful difference.
2013 – 2019: Building Our Special Edition Flavor Program
Our first GU Gives partnership with CAF led us to launch Passion Fruit Roctane Energy Gel in 2013. The proceeds from the sale of this special edition flavor were used to provide running prosthetics for two kids who had never experienced the joy of running with their peers. This was just the beginning of our giving program that raised over $200,000.
In 2014, we expanded our special edition flavor program by introducing Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Gel, supporting CAF and various charitable efforts in the athletic community.
In 2017, we introduced Campfire S'mores Energy Gel and partnered with The Conservation Alliance Proceeds from this flavor went directly to the Public Lands Defense Fund to protect our natural environment.
The following year, in 2018, we collaborated with the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) to create French Toast Energy Gel. This flavor, developed with the help of NICA student-athletes, helped get more kids on bikes and support youth cycling.
In 2019, we launched Hoppy Trails Energy Gel and initiated a small grants program to enhance local trails and recreational areas. We were proud to fund more than 30 projects nationwide.
2020 and Beyond: Expanding Our Impact
In 2020, we introduced Cola Me-Happy Energy Gel, supporting Back on My Feet, a nonprofit combatting homelessness through fitness, community support, and essential resources. This flavor raised money to help people get back on their feet during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2022, we returned to our roots, donating proceeds from the Salted Lime Roctane Energy Gel to the Western States Endurance Run Foundation. This supported the ultra-running community and trail stewardship, reflecting our commitment to improving the performance of athletes and investing in our mission.
This year, we introduced Raspberry Lemonade Energy Gel, and it's not just another flavor; it's a commitment to fostering inclusive and accessible outdoor experiences while addressing a vital issue—acknowledging that the land we have the privilege to enjoy is stolen. This flavor has rapidly become the fastest-selling Energy Gel in over a decade, symbolizing our dedication to making outdoor adventures accessible to everyone. Proceeds from Raspberry Lemonade benefit Rising Hearts and their Running on Native Lands initiative to support Indigenous communities' connection to the outdoors.
2022 and beyond: A New Chapter in GU Gives
GU Gives has grown immensely over the past 11 years. In the last two years we've expanded our giving beyond special edition flavors, we invested in a new Director of Community and Purpose role, and built a strategy around three pillars of giving: Environmental Stewardship, Physical Movement, and Food Awareness. Alongside this, in April, we proudly announced our 1% for the Planet membership. This means that we will donate at least 1% of our annual sales to vetted environmental partners and 501(c)3 nonprofits that align with our three pillars of giving. And we’re proud to share that we've already donated over $100,000 to partners and non-profits this year.
In our ongoing commitment to giving back, we also extend our support beyond cash donations. We take pride in donating our products to community groups, ensuring that our nutrition fuels the endeavors of those making a difference. Furthermore, we dedicate our time to volunteering with local organizations, actively participating in the causes we hold dear, and we make it easy for employees to take part by supporting volunteering during paid work hours.
GU Gives is more than a program; it's a testament to our values, our commitment to community, and our dedication to making the world a better place. We believe it's our responsibility as a business to give back and have a positive impact for future generations to enjoy our planet Earth.
Learn more about all the GU Gives partners we proudly support and the incredible initiatives we're involved in by visiting www.guenergy.com/gu-gives. There, you'll find detailed information about the organizations, causes, and projects we're engaged with, as well as the impact we're making in the communities we serve. We invite you to join us on this inspiring journey as we continue to unlock human potential, one act of giving at a time.