The North Face today announced the recipients of $125,000 of Explore Fund grants to 51 non-profit organizations in 23 different states across the country, all of which work to connect youth to the outdoors.  The Explore Fund’s mission is to inspire and enable the next generation of explorers by funding nonprofit organizations that are working to re-connect children with nature.  This is the first of two cycles of grants of the $250,000 annual grant program. Cycle 1 grants will impact over 20,000 young people through programs that are focused on getting youth outdoors in three specific areas including: access to outdoor recreation, education about personal and environmental health and connecting more youth to the outdoors.

“The Outdoor Foundation has identified access as a major barrier to getting youth outdoors.  A large percentage of the grants went toward funding programs which address this issue,” said Ann Krcik, director of Outdoor Participation at The North Face. “During the granting process, we make a conscious effort to reflect on what we refer to as the virtuous cycle. We first need to provide the opportunity for kids to get outside and play. If we can provide them with an initial positive experience outdoors, they will grow up inspired to care about their natural world.”

Outdoor Outreach, based in San Diego, whose mission is to empower at-risk and underprivileged youth to make positive lasting changes in their lives through outdoor programing and Paradox Sports, which provides inspiration, opportunities and adaptive equipment to the disabled community empowering their pursuit of a life of excellence through human- powered outdoor sports are two of the non-profits to receive Explore Fund grants this cycle. Both provide gear and opportunities for their communities to experience the outdoors with the support of experienced staff.

Since the Explore Fund program was initiated in 2010, The North Face has provided $625,000 in grants to encourage an active healthy lifestyle and protection of our natural landscapes by creating a stronger connection of youth to the outdoors. The application window for Explore Fund 2012 Cycle 2 grants will be open from September 3rd through October 5th 2012. Cycle 2 grantees will be announced in early November. For more information on this cycle’s grantees, please visit www.planetexplore.com/explorefund.  For more information about The North Face Explore Fund, please visit www.explorefund.org.

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