The North Face has awarded an Explore Fund grant to the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) for the Youth Education Program (YEP). 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. By encouraging an active healthy lifestyle and protection of our natural landscapes, a stronger connection of youth to the outdoors can be nurtured. The CMC’s Youth Education Program provides opportunities for youth to learn about and explore the outdoors through hands-on activities in the classroom, at the American Mountaineering Center, or in local open space parks with the classes and courses organized to meet the needs of teachers and individuals.

The CMC was selected from over five hundred applications submitted for the first of two grant cycles in 2012, because of the CMC’s devotion to connecting those who love the Colorado Rockies or who study or seek recreation in them.

Since The Explore Fund was initiated in 2010, The North Face has provided $625,000 in grants to non-profits working to connect youth to the outdoors.

“As I child, I had the great fortune to hike through a meadows of wildflowers, wade in crystal clear creeks, and climb Colorado’s majestic peaks. Unfortunately, today fewer and fewer kids have those kinds of outdoor experiences,” said Brenda Porter, Operations Director of the CMC. “The competing forces of video games, T.V. time, and increasing rates of childhood obesity make it more important than ever to provide youth with active outdoor adventures. Thanks to support from the North Face Explore Fund, CMC will continue to engage a broad spectrum of youth in mountain education and adventures during our summer camps and school-day field trips.”

The Youth Education Program was established in 1999 to share the CMC’s mission with a wider audience, specifically youth. In addition, as CMC’s facility emerged into a world-class center complete with auditorium, conference center, and library, it became an ideal destination for school and youth group field trips. Since its founding, the CMC’s Youth Education Program continues to provide opportunities for over 5,000 kids annually to experience the natural world through active learning adventures—essential opportunities to help combat childhood obesity and prevent “nature deficit disorder.”

In addition, the CMC’s Youth Education Program has been able to advance the mission exponentially with the support of several important partner organizations including the Scientific Cultural Facilities District (SCFD).

“The Outdoor Foundation has identified that a barrier to getting youth outdoors is lack of opportunity for kids to learn about and actually get to outdoors. We believe this has to happen at a grass roots, community level,” 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.”

To learn more the CMC’s Youth Education Program, visit www.cmc.org/yep.  For more information about The North Face Explore Fund, please visit www.explorefund.org.

Logo courtesy of the Colorado Mountain Club

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