At Columbia we’re passionate about the outdoors. Five years ago our friends at the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance asked if we could help support nonprofit organizations around the U.S. devoted to furthering outdoor education and conservation in their neighborhood. Of course, we jumped at the chance to help ensure the places we hike, run, fish, paddle, and camp are well cared for and loved by others. To date, Columbia has provided over $500,000 in funding to more than 100 nonprofit organizations across the country through the Columbia/Grassroots Belay Grant Program.
The Belay Grant Program is unique in the fact it relies on community support for success. Each year, specialty outdoor retailers across the country nominate local nonprofit organizations that help get kids outside or conserve natural spaces. A nonprofit organization is only eligible for a Belay Grant if they have the full support of their local outdoor retail partner. This approach helps form long-term partnerships that will have a lasting effect on the community beyond initial grant funding. We’re proud to support this collaborative effort that contributes to communities and the environment in meaningful ways.
In 2017, Columbia is proud to support the following 20 organizations with a total of $100,000 in product and financial support.
Location: Helena, MT
Project: Prepare girls for brighter and stronger futures through mountain biking, running and an inspirational educational curriculum. Girls Thrive participants not only learn essential mountain biking and running skills, but also gain self-confidence, awareness, and physical fitness.
Nominated by: The Base Camp
Location: Asheville, NC
Project: The Asheville Green Works Youth Environmental Leadership Program engages youth living in low-income neighborhoods through work experiences that emphasize the importance of caring for our natural environment.2017 Belay Grant funding will help provide necessary tools, planning materials, and apparel for Asheville Green Works Interns.
Nominated By: The Diamond Brand
Location: Jackson, WY
Project: The Youth Conservation Program is a teen education, stewardship, and employment opportunity that provides much needed maintenance and improvements to heavily used trails and historic sites in Grand Teton National Park.
Nominated by: Skinny Skis
Location: Grand Junction, CO
Project: Camp Freedom is a three day, two night camp for kids ages 6-12 with disabilities. This camp provides outdoor experiences for youth who would not able to attend camp without the support of medical staff provided by Camp Freedom.
Nominated by: Summit Canyon Mountaineering
Location: Lander, WY
Project: Rural Youth Climbing Camps provides Native American students in the Lander, WY area with recreational climbing instruction and opportunities.
Nominated by: Wild Iris
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Project: Provide no-cost outdoor recreation activities for approximately 2,500 high school students in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region. Activities include: hiking, biking, kayaking, camping, skiing, rock climbing, and more.
Nominated by: Roads, Rivers, & Trails
Location: Avondale, PA
Project: The 2017 Belay Grant will be used to support TLC’s Environmental Education Scholarship Fund which allows underserved youth opportunities to participate in outdoor education programs. Funds will also be used to establish a gear library for participants.
Nominated by: Trail Creek Outfitters
Location: Guilford, Connecticut
Project: The Camp Hazen scholarship sends 10 inner city kids to a one-week overnight camp in Chester, Connecticut where students participate in outdoor recreation activities and learn leadership skills.
Nominated by: Denali/Trailblazer
Location: Bishop, CA
Project: The Eastern Sierra Youth Outdoors program offers free outdoor education experiences to local underserved youth between the ages of 12-17. Grant funds will be used to support rock climbing, backpacking, and outdoor living experiences.
Nominated by: Eastside Sports
Location: Mahwah, NJ
Project: 2017 Belay Grant funding will be used to support the Zakim Tool Fund, providing trail maintenance tools such as picks, shovels, rock bars, helmets and rock moving equipment to volunteers in the tristate area.
Nominated by: Ramsey
Location: Hilton Head, SC
Nominated by: Outside Hilton HeadProject: The “Kids in Kayaks” program exposes 7th grade students to the salt marshes and tidal rivers of Port Royal Sound watershed through naturalist-guided trips. The 2017 Belay Grant will be used to help offset cost of participation for students who families cannot otherwise afford program costs.
Location: Charleston, SC
Project: Support the school garden program at Mitchell Elementary School, providing an outdoor learning experience that promotes healthy eating habits for 350+ K-5 students.
Nominated by: Half Moon Outfitters
Project: The 2017 Belay Grant will help develop an Outdoor Education and Jr. Ranger Program for Knoxville-area students to support Tennessee’s STEM Strategic Plan.
Nominated by: River Sports
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Project: RMFI’s Community Environmental Stewardship Program actively engages and educates community volunteers who contribute efforts toward protection of public wildlands and watersheds. The 2017 Belay Grant will help complete public land restoration projects on at least 18 different project sites in an around southern Colorado.
Nominated by: Mountain Chalet
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Project: Wilderness Inquiry will use their 2017 Belay Grant funding to support introductory canoe paddling courses and Mississippi River clean-up events.
Nominated by: Midwest Mountaineering
Location: Wilmington, NY
Project: The Community Paddling and River Cleanup Program engages local communities in paddling and water safety activities while inspiring others to be active stewards of the outdoors. The 2017 Belay Grant will help provide six community paddling programs and two river cleanup events.
Nominated by: Mountaineer
Location: Columbia, MO
Project: The Missouri River Academy is a five-day residential science exploration program on the Missouri River. The Academy selects 30 students each year between the ages of 14-18 years old – recruited from rural and urban schools, tutoring programs, and community groups – and builds understanding of the Missouri River through education and community service.
Nominated by: Alpine Shop
Location: State College, PA
Project: The Millbrook Marsh Nature Center is a 62-acre wetland preserve located in State College, Pennsylvania. Year-round programming provides hands-on environmental education and outdoor exploration opportunities for all ages. The 2017 Belay Grant will be used to enhance programs and establish a “rain gear locker” for staff, volunteers, and participants to use during outdoor programs.
Nominated by: Appalachian Outdoors
Location: Athens, GA
Project: The Paddle Georgia 2017 Youth Program provides transformative canoe and camping experiences on the Etowah River to 12 underserved youth in Georgia. The program provides an immersive connection to the outdoors while learning new skills and Leave No Trace principles.
Nominated by: Outside World
Location: Traverse City, MI
Project: Answer the Call of Your Inner Wild is a naturalist program and summer camp serving the community ages four and up, year-round. The place-based curriculum includes plant identification, mammal tracking, and outdoor survival skills.
Nominated by: Backcountry North