When The North Face created its Explore Fund nine years ago, the hope was that the program would facilitate more inclusivity and diversity in the outdoors. Now, nearly a decade later, the project continues to provide support and funds to nonprofits that focus on that mission. Since its inception, the Explore Fund has assisted thousands of individuals in getting outside and pursuing their adventures and that doesn’t look to be coming to an end anytime soon. A few days back, TNF announced the recipients of this year’s grants, and as usual they are some very worthy organizations.
The success of the Explore Fund now brings in hundreds of applicants each year, making it even more challenging to determine which organizations are awarded the grants. This year, that number was whittled down to 42 different entities that work to remove the barriers that prevent people from going outside. That can include things like a lack of transportation or not having the proper gear, to more intangible –– but no less challenging –– obstacles like not feeling welcomed or included. Many of these programs also have an environmental or climate aspect to them as well, creating opportunities for stewardship of the outdoors, which instill ownership and connection in the people taking part.
The full list of winners will eventually be added to the Explore Fun website, but in a press release announcing this year’s recipients, The North Face shined a spotlight on several of the organizations. Here’s a rundown of a few of the 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.
The 42 organizations that received grants in 2019 join a list of more than 600 others that have been a part of the program in the past. To date, The North Face, working in conjunction with the National Park Foundation, has handed out $3.75 million to assist with each of the individual projects. That’s not only a lot of money, but a lot of moral support too, which can go a long way for a small organization looking to leave its mark.
Applications for the 2019 grants are obviously closed, but watch this website for opportunities to apply in 2020 too.