The North Face Explore Fund

The North Face

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Grant amount: US $5,000 - US $25,000

Anticipated deadline: Apr 2, 2020 11:59pm PDT

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program

Location of project: United States

Location of residency: United States

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One of the major ways the Explore Fund supports outdoor exploration is through a $500,000 annual open-grants cycle. We’re looking for innovative ideas, both large and small in scale, that are changing the way we think about outdoor participation, accessibility, and protection of the environment. Since 2010, this program has given $2.75 million to more than 500 nonprofits and we’re thrilled to support more in 2018.

Program Categories

The Explore Fund grants are offered in two main categories. We ask that you complete the application that most aligns with your project.

Enabling New Explorers

Introducing underrepresented communities to outdoor adventures, in potentially new and interesting ways, is core to this program category. We want to work with nonprofits that are helping change the narrative of outdoor exploration. Ideal programs are working towards that goal in ways that could include teaching independence and self-awareness through outdoor adventures, demonstrating partnership and trust through outdoor activities, and developing outdoor leaders through innovative programing and trips to public lands. If your program seeks to develop new outdoor adventurers, this category is for you.

Protecting Our Environment

Projects large and small in scale are vital for protecting our ecosystems and our ability to continue to enjoy them. Ideal programs think creatively about engaging new and diverse communities in environmental work and can share tangible outcomes. Potential projects might address needs for new trails or forests, or larger topics such as climate change on public lands or in cities. Organizations that work with new technologies and programmatic approaches to protecting our environment are encouraged to apply. If your program focuses more on environmental education in the outdoors, please complete the Enabling New Explorers application.


A total of $500,000 is available for funding. Applicants may apply for up to $25,000 in grant funding and a minimum of $5,000. In rare cases, The North Face may award more than $25,000 to specific projects. Whether grants are awarded and the amounts of any such awarded grants are within the sole discretion of The North Face.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • We’re excited to receive applications from passionate groups looking to increase participation in the outdoors and work in innovative ways to protect our environment.
  • Before applying, organizations must meet these initial criterial:
    • Have 501(c)(3) nonprofit status or be in a formal relationship with a qualified fiscal sponsor.
    • Be based and operate in the U.S. 


  • What types of outdoor activities does the North Face prefer to see in an application?
    • Projects with strong outdoor engagement in activities such as skiing, snowboard, snowshoeing, climbing (indoor or outdoor), kayaking, white water rafting, camping, backpacking, and hiking among other outdoor sports that align with The North Face are preferred.
  • What types of environmental activities does the North Face prefer to see in an application?
    • We’re looking for projects both large and small in scale.
    • Projects with innovative approaches to inspiring community engagement and tangible outcomes in protecting the environment are encouraged.
    • Land based projects are preferred.
    • These projects include but are not limited to trail building and restoration, forestry, shoreline clean-up, invasive species and trash removal.
    • Additionally, projects may address larger goals such as technologies that impact climate change and ecological diversity.


  • Projects outside the U.S. do not qualify.
  • What types of projects are prohibited from applying for an Explore Fund Grant
    • Organizations without 501(c)(3) status or without a qualified 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor.
    • Programs without a significant outdoor component or activities that are not aligned with the activities and interests of The North Face.
    • General outdoor day camps or summer camps unless outdoor recreation activities or skill building are core and significant to the overall purpose/mission. Outdoor camps serving under-resourced and/or under-represented population may apply.
    • Projects focused on research, white papers, and conferences
    • Endowment or capital fund campaigns
    • Ropes courses, museum and aquarium trips
    • Dancing and art classes
    • Advocacy or political campaigns
    • Sustainability, green building projects, or landscape projects
    • Expeditions
    • Land acquisitions or conservation easements
    • Most salaries. See overhead restrictions
    • Wildlife and ocean conservation focused projects
    • Agricultural and food waste focused projects
    • Most summer camps scholarships
    • Film, video, book or movie projects
    • Marketing or awareness raising projects
    • Festivals
    • Projects outside the U.S.
  • Summer camp scholarships, ropes courses and projects that are primarily in-class room with outdoor aspects are generally not funded.
  • Ph.D. projects, community gardens, corporate volunteer opportunities, school service projects and field trips are generally not funded in this category.