The first recipients of The North Face Explore Fund have just been announced – and we think you might recognise a few!


The North Face Explore Fund is a new grant awarded to community organisations in Australia and New Zealand that are either creating a community of new explorers or helping protect the environment – or both! 

The five members of the Explore Fund Council have awarded grants to three groups this year, which, including the two founding partners, Affinity Initiative and ClimbingQTs are the inaugural recipients of the grant. 

Let’s meet them!

First Hike Project Inc – Australia

First Hike Project Inc is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers and operates in most capital cities, including Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Canberra. 

Volunteers from these cities guide people from refugee backgrounds on hiking and camping experiences in the Aussie bush, with all expenses paid for and all equipment provided.

First Hike Project Inc aims to help people who have newly arrived in Australia from refugee backgrounds to start feeling more at home in Australia and lessen feelings of alienation and marginalisation. And what better way to do it than getting them out of the suburbs and into nature with new friends?

‘Hiking is a new experience for these young people, and thanks to The North Face, participants will now go on to develop greater resilience in navigating their new home and lives, expanding their networks, and taking up new opportunities,’ says First Hike Project Inc Founder Neil McCulloch.


Trailblazers Charitable Trust – New Zealand

Trailblazers is an evidence-based youth development program that uses trail running to transform the lives of rangatahi (young people) and helps provide them equitable access to physical activity. 

Trailblazers uses sports-based intervention to support children and rangatahi who are impacted by mental health challenges, trauma, stress or disabilities. By combining personal challenges, intentional and therapeutic mentoring, social interaction, and the healing power of nature, Trailblazers program helps kids develop wholly. 

‘We are excited that our programme, with the support of The North Face Explore fund, can help impact many more young lives – removing barriers, connecting them with nature, helping them achieve and believe together through the positive experience of trail running,’ says Jo Ryder, Trailblazers Charitable Trust Founder.


For Wild Places

You might’ve heard of For Wild Places (FWP) before – founded by a dedicated group of trail runners, the organisation encourages and empowers people to use sports activism to help protect the wild places they love. In the process, they’re turning trail running into a meaningful and powerful way to express and support environmental activism with events like the Pilliga Ultra.

‘The Explore Grant will allow FWP to host our inaugural Camp FWP, which will intertwine trail running and environmental advocacy, to empower and educate the next generation of sports activists. This grant will allow us to empower the activated and engaged trail running community to take bolder steps to protect the wild places we love to explore,’ says Co-Founder and CEO Hilary McAllister.



Congrats to all the impressive and well-deserving recipients! We can’t wait to see the difference you make with the help of this grant.