Application for Explore Fund Grant

Eligibility & Application Process


The North Face EXPLORE FUND provides grants to U.S. based nonprofit organizations that provide their participants with meaningful outdoor experiences. Specifically, experiences that instill an enduring appreciation of the outdoors, promote positive personal or societal change, and/or demonstrate environmental stewardship principles and practices. To be considered for an Explore Fund grant, the applying organization must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit or in a formal relationship with a qualified fiscal sponsor.   

Explore Fund grants support nonprofits in partnership with The North Face; groups that are nominated by The North Face vendor partners and select internal business units; and through an annual open grant application cycle.



The Explore Fund has historically funded programs that take people on outdoor adventures with the goal of using time outside to promote positive personal and societal growth, love of nature, and the development of outdoor skills. As environmental stewardship is core to our mission and something we have supported for more than 50 years, we see the Explore Fund as an opportunity to support the work of the nonprofits whose mission falls into this category.

With this in mind, we are dividing the grant funding between two categories this year:

  • Outdoor Experiences and Leadership 
  • Environmental Stewardship

Organizations should indicate in their application which category their program falls into.

Across both categories, programs should show how they are   

  • increasing diversity and access to underrepresented populations in the outdoors. 
  • developing an appreciation for the outdoors through multiple engagements versus one-day events.

Applicants that demonstrate how they are working to fulfill the above goals are preferred. 


Outdoor Experiences and Leadership Category

Programs in this category introduce their participants to the outdoors, teach basic outdoor skills, use adventures to build core values such as teamwork, courage, and self-reliance, and/or foster an enduring appreciation of activities that take place outside. Applicants who primarily use outdoor adventures as a means to make a positive difference in the lives of their participants should select this category in their applications.

Examples include:

  • Programs that take youth on overnight outdoor adventures while teaching their participants values such as teamwork, perseverance, and self-reflection 
  • Outdoor climbing experiences that give veterans a chance to connect with fellow veterans and build a network of support 
  • Programs that work with underserved communities to provide first experiences and adventures on public lands 
  • Programs that support the Every Kid in Park initiative 

Programs that encourage participants to try new outdoor activities that are core to The North Face, such as camping, hiking, rock climbing, mountaineering, skiing, snowboarding, and running, are favored.


Environmental Stewardship Category

Programs in this category provide their participants with opportunities to protect and preserve the outdoors, engage in community-based environmental activities, and/or have a strong focus on teaching their students about environmental stewardship. Time outside in place of a classroom should be a core aspect of the application. Applicants with a strong environmental focus should select this category.

Examples include:

  • Outdoor preservation projects, such as trail building opportunities, that maintain and protect public lands 
  • Programs that focus on hands on environmental science education 
  • Programs that teach environmental literacy and responsibility in an outdoor setting

Note: While trail building and maintenance opportunities are accepted in this category, strong applications will show how their program is investing in participants beyond a one-time experience. 



The 2017 Explore Fund application is open from FEBRUARY 22 THROUGH APRIL 5. Grantees will be notified of their award application status by late May 2017. Grantees should note that checks will be received by late June 2017 and should plan their program activities accordingly.

Grantees will have a full year from the time their check is received to complete their programming.  


Frequently Asked Questions and Funding

For more information about the grant program, visit the Explore Fund FAQ. The grant process and requirements are subject to change annually.


For information on typical award amounts and what we do not fund, visit the FUNDING page.