Applications for the 2023 Explore Fund are now closed.
Exploration has the power to change lives and connect communities. When we search out new experiences, overcome obstacles and connect with each other, we change ourselves. The Explore Fund is how we’ve put this idea to work—by removing barriers so everyone can get outside. Together with our partner community, we’ve activated what it means to explore—for people and for culture.
The North Face Explore Fund
Advocacy and community partnerships are a core part of our brand’s 57-year history. In 2010, we formalised the outdoor industry’s first grant-making program focused on increasing outdoor participation, expanding to Canada in 2012, Europe in 2018 and the Asia-Pacific region in 2021. In 2022, we launched the Explore Fund in Australia and New Zealand.
In its first year, the Explore Fund helped to create access and drive equity in the outdoors by funding organisations around two themes: creating a community of new explorers and protecting the environment. We’re excited to continue this work in 2023.
2023 Explore Fund Council
Social Activists. Outdoor leaders. Athletes.
Grant selection is guided by each year's Explore Fund Council members. The Explore Fund Council has developed a toolkit of seven practices that guided their work, including a set of questions and actions that can help cultivate a broader idea of exploration for everyone.
Skier. Adventurer. Environmentalist.
Bundjalung and Worimi. Writer. Digital Content Creator.
Climber. Adventurer. Coach. Community Organiser.
Conservationist. Writer. Nature lover.
2022 Explore Fund
First Hike Project Inc.
First Hike Project Inc. is a not-for-profit organisation operating out of Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra.
First Hike Project Inc. takes newly arrived youth from refugee backgrounds on all-expenses-paid and all-equipment-provided hiking and camping experiences in the Australian bush. The aim is to help these young people feel more at home in Australia once they step outside the suburbs and discover nature, and to help them overcome feelings of marginalisation and alienation.
The Explore Fund grant awarded to First Hike Project Inc. supported the operational costs of running 10 hikes during the 2022/23 season. These bush hikes aim to increase physical activity, enable participants to make new friends, share their stories, connect with First Hike Project Inc. volunteers, and enjoy immersion in the Australian bush and its iconic wildlife.
For Wild Places
Founded by a small and driven group of trail runners, For Wild Places empowers passionate outdoor enthusiasts to embrace sports activism as a way to celebrate and protect wild places.
The group sets out to make trail running a meaningful expression of environmental activism, so that together, everyone can help our wild places survive and thrive. For Wild Places' long-term purpose is to create a world where wild places are collectively cherished and protected, using sports activism as the vehicle for linking human happiness and environmental well-being.
The Explore Fund grant supported the group's inaugural Camp in 2023. The 4-day event combined movement and education, with athletes, leaders and activists who mentored participants to become more engaged in advocating within their communities.
Trailblazers Charitable Trust
Trailblazers is an evidence-based youth development program providing rangatahi (young people) with equitable access to physical activity whilst using trail running as a catalyst to transform lives.
The objective of Trailblazers project is to provide an effective sport-based intervention and support for children impacted by trauma, stress, disabilities, and mental health challenges. Trailblazers combines nature with personal challenges, social interaction and mentoring in a therapeutic and intentional way to help develop the whole child.
Trailblazers used the Explore Fund grant to expand the programs offered across Aotearoa, to help impact many more young lives by removing barriers, connecting them with nature and helping them to achieve and believe through the positive experience of trail running.
Affinity Initiative was founded as part of Women Uprising to challenge the status quo in the outdoor rock climbing community by empowering, uplifting, and holding space for women-of-colour.
The Affinity Initiative takes a lived experience approach that addresses barriers that women-of-colour experience, to elevate the presence and uplift the voices of women-of-colour in climbing. It centres all aspects of the climbing industry and community to not only provide the opportunity, access and platform needed, but also to challenge the white-centric narrative prevalent in the outdoors.
The grant awarded to Affinity Initiative supports trad climbing mentorship programs and masterclasses led by The North Face athletes, catering towards women-of-colour with a range of trad climbing experience. They were also provided with a gear library of camping equipment to lower the barrier of entry for women-of-colour to be in the outdoors.
Women-of-colour: For self-identifying First Nations women, Bla(c)k women and Women-of-Colour. We understand that not everyone identifies with the term WOC as identities and race intersect is complex. Affinity Initiative is for all cis and trans women-of-colour, non-binary, genderqueer and bi-gender climbers-of-colour who are comfortable in women centered spaces.
ClimbingQTs is a LGBTQ+ social climbing community and advocacy group inclusive of all identities and backgrounds, founded in Naarm (Melbourne, Australia). The QTs uphold a mission to create a space for all humans to feel comfortable, welcome and safe to be themselves within the climbing community, whether it's at the crag, at the gym or anywhere in between. The QTs represent a movement that is shifting how we participate, spectate, coach, work, train and play in climbing.
The Explore Fund grant has helped the QTs to expand their outdoor programs and provided financial support to launch a peer mentoring programs.