Back in April The North Face issued an open call to organizations to apply for one of twenty-five 2014 Explore Fund grants of up to $25,000. The main requirement? A commitment to connecting more people to the outdoors. When the application deadline hit nearly 400 non-profits and community organizations had applied in hope of receiving one of 5 grants of $25,000; 5 grants of $10,000; or 15 grants of $5,000 — a total of $250,000 in awards.
Each and every organization was deserving and it wasn’t easy to narrow down the applications, but we eventually selected ten organizations to be in the running for the top grants. Then, over the past month, we asked you to vote to determine the winners … and the votes are in!
After more than 25,000 votes, the five non-profits tallying the most votes, and therefore receiving a top grant of $25,000, are:
- Nantahala Racing Club, which introduces underserved families in rural Appalachia to whitewater recreation.
- North Carolina Wildlife Federation, which provides underserved kids (ages 6-18) the opportunity to spend a day in the great outdoors with mentors exploring the natural world.
- Mohonk Preserve, which runs outdoor education programs for urban, at-risk, minority youth.
- Paradox Sports, which hosts adaptive climbing clinics around the US, sharing knowledge, techniques, and equipment to help those with adaptive needs.
- Outdoor Outreach, which inspires underserved youth to see the possibility and opportunity through rock climbing, surfing, kayaking, mountain biking, snowboarding, and hiking.
The five runner-up organizations each will receive a $10,000 grant: Positive Energy Outdoors, Sacred Rok, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, and Colorado UpLift.
In addition to these 10 grants, The North Face Explore Fund awarded up to $5,000 to 18 projects earlier this summer.
“It is exciting to see the incredible response from our customers and fans who are just as passionate about giving more kids the opportunity to experience the outdoors as we are,” said Ann Krcik, director of Outdoor Exploration at The North Face. “Together with our enthusiastic community, we are making an investment in the next generation of outdoor explorers and conservationists who will grow to love and protect the wild places we all love to play.”
The North Face Explore Fund recipients were chosen based on their commitment to one of three different focus areas: creating more connections of youth to nature and providing inspiration to explore, increasing access to close to home front-and-backcountry recreation opportunities, and engaging a new and diverse audience with the outdoors.
As part of its mission to start a global movement of Outdoor Exploration, The North Face introduced the Explore Fund (www.explorefund.org) in 2010 and the program has since provided more than $1 Million in grants globally to organizations committed to inspiring the next generation of outdoor explorers and conservationists.
Congratulations to all the 2014 Explore Fund grantees.
Featured image photo credit: Tim Kemple
Photos courtesy (top to bottom): Mohonk Preserve, Nantahala Racing Club, Paradox Sports, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, and Outdoor Outreach