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The North Face Offers Grants to Fund Youth Outdoor Programs

Words by Leon Kaye

Do you have a creative idea to connect your youth organization to the outdoors? If so, a nonprofit sponsored by The North Face may have funding for you.

For the sixth year, the outdoor gear and apparel company’s Explore Fund is accepting grant applications. While youth groups are the primary focus of the Explore Fund, any 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has a plan to connect people to the outdoors is encouraged to apply.

Last year’s grant recipients included chapters of the Boys & Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation and 25 additional organizations. This year, up to $500,000 — double the amount of last year’s funding -- is available for grants that will generally range in value from $5,000 to $25,000.

It is easy to tout the Explore Fund’s goals of getting kids out of the house in the age of Facebook and video games. But there are other important reasons for programs like that of the Explore Fund at a much higher level. One explanation behind why there is any semblance of an environmental movement today is because of the appreciation of the natural wonders in the United States that date back to the days of John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt.

And from a business perspective, if outdoor apparel companies such as The North Face will continue to thrive, they need a consumer base that is passionate about getting out of the home and away from the smartphone to enjoy the thousands of national, state and local parks that offer countless recreation opportunities but limited funding. And in an era of tight budgets, parks and recreation programs, critical to keep kids busy during the summers, have long taken a hit.

“It is exciting to think of the funding from The North Face Explore Fund will have to make sure youth from all incomes and backgrounds can experience the actives that make Duluth and Northeast Minnesota an outdoor destination," Stephanie Love, Positive Energy for Youth co-founder and director, said of the Explore Fund.
Positive Energy for Youth, based in Duluth, Minnesota, is one example of a successful Explore Fund grantee. For 10 years the organization has organized programs that promote the exploration of the outdoors, with an agenda that focuses on teamwork, healthy risk-taking and effective communication. Activities have included dog sledding, kayaking and stand up paddle-boarding.

Applications will be accepted until April 17.

Image credit: Leon Kaye

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is a business writer and strategic communications specialist. He has also been featured in The Guardian, Clean Technica, Sustainable Brands, Earth911, Inhabitat, Architect Magazine and Wired.com. When he has time, he shares his thoughts on his own site, GreenGoPost.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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