The North Face today announced the winners of the 2016 Explore Fund grant-giving program, recognizing 45 nonprofit organizations that are working in powerful and creative ways to encourage participants to experience outdoor activities and develop an enduring appreciation of the outdoors.
To celebrate the National Park Service Centennial, The North Face, in collaboration with the National Park Foundation, gave special consideration to organizations that activate their programs in national parks and federally managed lands with the goal of encouraging organizations to bring people to play, learn, serve and work in these spaces.
“We are thankful for The North Face’s support of our shared goal of preparing the next generation of outdoor stewards and enthusiasts,” said Sally Jewell, Secretary for the U.S. Department of the Interior. “For three years now, they have partnered with the Department of the Interior and invested in our efforts to provide more opportunities for young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors.”
“From quiet reflection, to team building activities, to learning new job skills, our national parks and public lands are incredible settings for an infinite spectrum of experiences,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks. “Thanks to The North Face’s support, people will discover how these treasured places already are and can become even more interwoven into their individual lives and communities.”
Every program awarded is working in unique ways to encourage outdoor participation. Organizations from this year’s grantees include:
- Mountain Park Environmental Center (MPEC): MPEC, in partnership with the Pueblo Rape Crisis Services, manages a three part outdoor adventure series for female survivors of sexual violence. The program aims to use nature as a source of strength and healing, to encourage positive self-esteem, feelings of community, connectedness and a new sense of empowerment.
- Paradox Sports: 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 independence as climbers.
- Sacred Rok: 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.
- City Kids Wilderness Project: City Kids is focused on addressing the lack of participation, access and connection to the outdoors for under-resourced youth in Washington, D.C., and translating outdoor and adventure experiences into long-term success. The program provides after school, weekend and summer outdoor adventure programming, including backpacking, canoeing, and backcountry hiking, as well as job training and college preparation programming.
“Encouraging people to experience and enjoy the outdoors has been our mission at The North Face since we were founded 50 years ago,” said Ann Krcik, senior director of Outdoor Exploration at The North Face. “We are proud to support these outstanding programs that expose participants to the beauty and joy of the outdoors. Through these Explore Fund grants, we are building a community of outdoor explorers and inspiring people to love and protect the places where we play.”
All applications were evaluated based on the projected impact, clarity of the proposal, and alignment to the spirit of adventure and exploration. The Explore Fund reviews grants by individual merits and as part of a balanced portfolio that includes factors such as geography, type of program, target audiences, and more.
As part of its mission to start a global movement of outdoor exploration, The North Face introduced the Explore Fund in 2010 and the program has since provided more than $2.2 million in grants to organizations committed to inspiring people to explore the outdoors and care for the environment.
onal park community at www.nationalparks.org.