Courtesy of The North Face
Jimmy Chin and Lena Waithe headline the team.

J.D. Simkins  – May 26, 2021

The North Face took a step this week toward making outdoor opportunities more inclusive by establishing the Explore Fund Council, a group of 10 members from outdoors, entertainment, and academic industries dedicated to bringing those opportunities to fruition.

Sociological barriers preventing equal participation in the outdoors have stood for far too long. While outdoor spaces allow for myriad therapeutic and physical benefits, those opportunities, especially for people of color, have not been made nearly as available.

This discrepancy has existed, in large part, due to the decades-old establishment of Black and brown communities in what a recent study by the Center for American Progress categorized as “nature deprived” areas.

More Videos From Sunset

“The unequal distribution of nature in America—and the unjust experiences that many people of color have in the outdoors—is a problem that national, state, and local leaders can no longer ignore,” the study’s authors wrote. “With scientists urging policymakers to protect at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and ocean by 2030 to address the biodiversity and climate crises, now is the time to imagine how, by protecting far more lands and waters over the next decade, the United States can guarantee every child in America the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of nature near their home.”

Now, the team led by the likes of Oscar-winning filmmaker and alpinist Jimmy Chin (Meru, Free Solo) and Emmy-winning writer and actor Lena Waithe (Master of None, Ready Player One) will work not just to address the aforementioned imbalance, but offer a platform to celebrate exploration in all forms.

“Over the course of the summer, the Explore Fund Council will focus on developing ideas, plans, and recommendations to help expand what exploration looks like—embracing the unique expressions and ways everyone explores the outdoors,” the council announced. “The work from this 10-member council, and many others, will help guide the selection of The North Face Explore Fund Grantees with a focus on partnering with organizations led by or serving Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.”

First on the council’s to-do list will be determining where to allocate $7 million in start-up funding to best assist underserved communities. The group will also maintain a rolling exploration of programs and partnerships that can contribute to the core mission.

Learn more about the Explore Fund here.


Read the 2021 Harvest Issue Right Here

Get one year of Sunset—and all kinds of bonuses—for just $24.95. Subscribe now!