The Explore Fund Increases Access and Stewardship of our Parks and Public Lands
From offering climbing opportunities to youth with disabilities to providing weekly environmental education opportunities for young girls, The North Face is welcoming a new class of organizations enabling exploration for all through the Explore Fund grant program.
Now in its ninth year, the Explore Fund was established to ensure the outdoors is a place that everyone has the chance to experience. Since the inception of the grant program, more than $3.75 million in grants have been awarded to nearly 600 programs that are empowering new environmental stewards and explorers.
After receiving and carefully reviewing hundreds of applications, this year’s winners are 42 stand-out organizations that are removing barriers to outdoor exploration. These organizations are addressing a wide range of issues surrounding accessing the outdoors including lack of transportation, cost of programming, equipment needs, and feeling unwelcome in the outdoors. Additionally, these programs are opening up pathways to environmental stewardship by providing opportunities and awareness of conservation careers.
“For nearly 10 years, The North Face has been working to increase equity in the outdoors through the Explore Fund,” said Eric Raymond, Director of Social Impact and Advocacy for The North Face. “The Explore Fund searches out and supports organizations that use the power of exploration and the benefits of nature to strengthen communities around the country.”
The North Face partners with the National Park Foundation, the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, for the Explore Fund grant program.
“The Explore Fund not only makes outdoor experiences accessible to more people, it also helps grow a diverse community of national park and public land champions,” said Katherine Chesson, vice president of programs and partnerships at the National Park Foundation. “Thanks to partners like The North Face and Explore Fund grantees, we’re inspiring lifelong connections between more communities and these treasured places.”
See below for a description of select 2019 grantees.
Protecting Our Environment
Easter Sierra Conservation Corps is dedicated to creating an inclusive outdoor community through which participants can access public lands. Their Queers in the Wilderness program provides opportunities for LGBTQ+ young adults to gain the skills and knowledge to become future outdoor leaders through immersive backcountry trips and trail maintenance programs.
The Bears Ears Inter Tribal Coalition is working to grow the Native Conservation Corps (NCC). The NCC will establish a culturally informed framework for Tribes to engage in on-the-ground conservation in Bears Ears and utilize Traditional Knowledge to support the long-term management of cultural places, landscapes, and monuments.
Atlanta Audubon Society will engage Historically Black Colleges & Universities in Georgia through programming that includes bird conservation, hiking trips, and exposure to environmental careers.
Enabling Outdoor Exploration
Eagle Mount Bozeman has been providing year around adaptive recreation and sports for individuals with disabilities and children with cancer for over thirty five years. Eagle Mount’s Adventure Days provides opportunities for children and young adults to get outdoors and experience what Montana summers have to offer. Adventurers have the opportunity to go hiking, backpacking, fishing, kayaking, rafting, rock climbing, ziplining, swimming and much more.
The National Brotherhood of Skiers is dedicated to increasing access, exposure and participation for populations traditionally underrepresented in winter sports with a focus on the Black community. We do so by organizing opportunities to engage in skiing and snowboarding with a specific focus on building cultural relevant and financially accessible programming to increase participation from the Black community.
The National Park Trust’s Buddy Bison Program is partnering with Blue Star Families to engage their active duty military families with parks and green spaces in the communities where they are stationed. Our goal is to help them develop lifelong outdoor habits and a long-term relationship with nature.
Additional 2019 winners include 1n10, Inc., Albuquerque Sign Language Academy, and The Greening of Detroit. Congratulations to these and the rest of the amazing organizations who are part of The North Face Explore Fund.