Big City Mountaineers Receives The North Face 2016 Explore Fund Grant

Big City Mountaineers, based in Golden Colorado is increasing opportunities to learn critical life skills in the outdoors for under-resourced urban youth in seven cities across the US.

Golden, CO – June 28, 2016 – We are proud to announce The North Face has awarded Big City Mountaineers a 2016 Explore Fund grant for mentored youth expeditions. Our 2016 expeditions are underway serving youth in Denver, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Boston and Miami.  We will run 42 expeditions on US Forest Service and National Park Service land as well as 14 Overnight Camps during high season, serving over 600 youth.  In 2017, Big City Mountaineers will launch a new Overnight Camp in Minnesota. Our unique 1:1 mentoring format requires dedicated, talented, adult mentors to join our team for week long expeditions.  Contact us to get involved as a volunteer.

“We believe, for the teens we serve, the incomparable challenge of wilderness experiences in the company of positive adult role models can begin a teen’s journey of self-discovery and promote the values of community and responsibility. The outdoors is such a unique and powerful tool for this type of learning.  The Explore Fund Grant is going to make it possible to continue to instill critical life skills in our students in this amazing classroom we call our public lands”

Elizabeth Williams, Director of Programs

Big City Mountaineers

The North Face selected a total of 45 nonprofits that engage their participants in opportunities that inspire a lifelong love of the outdoors. Selected programs use outdoor exploration as a catalyst for positive personal or societal change, to encourage participants to try new outdoor activities, and promote environmental stewardship values.

 “Encouraging people to experience and enjoy the outdoors has been our mission at The North Face since we were founded 50 years ago,” said Ann Krcik, senior director of Outdoor Exploration at The North Face. “We are proud to support these outstanding programs that expose participants to the beauty and joy of the outdoors. Through these Explore Fund grants, we are building a community of outdoor explorers and inspiring people to love and protect the places where we play.”

Big City Mountaineers was established in 1989 to instill critical life skills in under-served urban youth through transformative wilderness mentoring expeditions. Since its founding, the program has provided over 36,000 nights under the stars for over 7,500 kids lacking the opportunity to experience the wilderness on their own. We partner with community-based youth organizations and caring adult volunteers who act as mentors in the field to help young people realize their potential.

We combine elements of mentoring programs with an outdoor wilderness expedition designed specifically for under-resourced urban youth.  The core BCM program is a weeklong expedition at the center of which is a five-day wilderness backpacking or canoe expedition in which adults and teens work together.

BCM Expeditions:

  • Provide wilderness opportunities to under-resourced urban teens age 13 to 18
  • Cultivate relationships between teens and caring adult mentors
  • Offer a unique 1-to-1 ratio of adults to teens
  • Partner with existing youth development agencies to better address the ongoing needs of under-resourced youth.
  • Deliver safe wilderness expeditions led by professional field instructors

In addition, Big City Mountaineers gives many urban youth their first outdoor wilderness experience on our Overnight Camps at our basecamp near Denver, Colorado. We are preparing to run our first Overnight Camps in Minnesota in 2017 at our new basecamp facility in Tower, Minnesota.

Our curriculum is designed to integrate critical life skills such as integrity, self-esteem, responsibility, decision-making abilities and communication skills in close to 1,000 youth annually. BCM has a proven track record of improving young peoples’ lives with these 21st century skills. Some of the positive measurable impacts from BCM expeditions are:

  •        Increased likeliness to stay in school
  •       Reduction in violence
  •       Reduction in drug use  

To celebrate the National Park Service Centennial, Big City Mountaineers has launched a new program in Rocky Mountain National Park with the goal of bringing 20 middle school kids from the Denver area who are ready for a longer experience on a 3 day wilderness expedition.  Accompanied by 12 adult mentors, this program will serve as a transition from front-country Overnight Summer Camp to BCM’s one-week expeditions. This experience is designed to advance students’ connection to themselves and to the natural environment that began at Big City Mountaineers’ Overnight Camp. 

As part of its mission to start a global movement of outdoor exploration, The North Face introduced Explore Fund ( in 2010 and the program has since provided more than $2.2 million in grants to organizations committed to inspiring people to explore the outdoors and care for the environment.

To learn more about Big City Mountaineers’ Youth Mentoring Expeditions visit

About The North Face®

The North Face, a division of VF Outdoor, Inc., was founded in 1966. Headquartered in Alameda, California, the company offers the most technically advanced products in the market to accomplished climbers, mountaineers, snowsport athletes, endurance athletes, and explorers. The company's products are sold in specialty mountaineering, backpacking, running, and snowsport retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers and major outdoor specialty retail chains.

Media contact:

Bryan Martin

Executive Director



Caren Bell                               

On behalf of The North Face