Explore Fund News


Announcing the 2016 Explore Fund Grantees

Spending time in the outdoors is transformative. For the past 50 years, this has been one of The North Face brand’s core beliefs. Yet, despite the outdoors’ known benefits, many people today spend much of their time inside. The 2016 Explore Fund grantees are bucking this trend and inspiring people to harness the power of the outdoors to improve the lives of individuals, communities, and the environment.

This year’s Explore Fund grantees are an exceptional group of 45 nonprofits across the U.S. In celebration of the National Park Service Centennial, organizations showed strong engagement with national and federally managed lands, which is why nearly 90 percent of 2016’s award amount went to organizations that operate in these spaces. Additionally, 16 organizations will support the Every Kid in a Park initiative by providing meaningful experiences for 4th graders and their families on federal public lands across the U.S.

The North Face Explore Fund grantees addressed a number of issues important to increasing everyone’s access to and participation in the outdoors. Below are profiles of some of the grantees and several examples of topics addressed.  


Environmental Stewardship

  • NatureBridge connects youth to nature and builds environmental literacy through experiential science education in national parks. Their Yosemite National Park program takes K-12 students on first-time experiences like seeing Half Dome, hiking to a waterfall, or cross-country skiing to Glacier Point, while teaching environmental stewardship.
  • Rocky Mountain Youth Corps's Let’s Move Outside Initiative engages youth with meaningful outdoor experiences that build a life-long conservation ethic. In support of Every Kid in a Park, fourth graders in urban communities will explore Petroglyph National Monument, learn about ecology and habitat care, and participate in fun outdoor activities such as hiking, nature walks, community gardening, and plant identification.  


Outdoor Experiences for Under-Resourced Youth

  • City Kids Wilderness Project is addressing the lack of participation in, and access and connection to, the outdoors of under-resourced youth in Washington, D.C. by tackling this issue at its root. They work directly with these communities by connecting youth and their families with long-term active outdoor engagement opportunities, and work to build students' resilience, broaden their horizons, and ensure students have the skills for success. The program provides after-school, weekend and summer outdoor adventure programming like backpacking, canoeing, and backcountry hiking, as well as job training and college preparation programs.  
  • Sacred Rok leads day and overnight trips in Yosemite for low income, incarcerated, and foster youth ages 7 – 21. Participants spend time nature camping, hiking, rock climbing, learning trail building basics, and environmental stewardship principals. These trips help youth feel comfortable in nature in addition to building self-confidence and inspiring respect for the environment. 


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • The California Conservation Corp Foundation is taking a group of 8 to 10 young women of color between the ages of 18-24 on an introductory and immersive trip into the backcountry as part of their Wilderness Diversity Program. The long-term goal is to increase the number of underrepresented groups working in natural resource management by providing young women with a meaningful wilderness experience.
  • The Mountaineers is providing Mountain Workshops in North Cascades National Park and other outdoor locations for members of the Young Women Empowered (Y-WE) organization. Y-WE provides mentorship and empowerment programs for teen women, ages 13-18, in the greater Seattle area. More than 70 percent of participating Y-WE youth are immigrants to the United States and 80 percent are women of color. The goal of the Mountain Workshops is to increase access to the outdoors for underserved groups that typically do not have access to the outdoors, including national parks.


Opportunities for People with Adaptive Needs

  • Paradox Sports works to identify, foster, and grow communities of adaptive climbing and mountaineering athletes across the country. The grant from The North Face will specifically support the organization’s Yosemite National Park Experience, which brings veterans, as well as non-veterans with disabilities together for a week of climbing in the national park. Funding will also support the Joshua Tree National Park Experience, which is a first of its kind program that teaches adaptive climbers the technical skills they need to increase their climbing independence.
  • Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center's (BOEC) mission is to increase opportunities for people with physical and cognitive disabilities, serious illnesses and other special needs through meaningful, educational and inspiring outdoor experiences. Their program will provide youth with special needs and chronic illnesses the opportunity to experience skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, rafting, canoeing, and many other outdoor activities.


The North Face Explore Fund is proud to support the work of these nonprofits working in meaningful ways to get people outdoors and active. 

To read the 2016 Explore Fund press release, click here.