The North Face is bringing a pair of big names — and some seriously big money — to an effort that aims to expand access to outdoor exploration.
The snowsports and outdoor apparel and gear brand on Thursday launched “Reset Normal,” a global initiative “encouraging people everywhere to reset their lives through exploration in the hope of progress and discovery that is so needed in today’s challenging environment.”
As part of the initiative, the brand is committing $7 million to organizations with the goal of building equity in the outdoors and creating opportunities for all.
The North Face is also launching the Explore Fund Council, a global fellowship with the goal of bringing together passionate experts across culture, entertainment, academia and the outdoors to develop ideas and potential scalable solutions to help support access to exploration. The learnings, findings and recommendations from this expert group will be used to help guide how The North Face will direct its financial commitment.
Two prominent names will lend their names to the campaign — Jimmy Chin (pictured above), The North Face Global athlete, climber and Academy Award-winning director; and Lena Waithe, an Emmy Award-winning screenwriter, producer and actor who has devoted her career to championing underrepresented artists and communities through her production company Hillman Grad.
“For me, exploration has always been a mindset. As a creative I see myself as a constant, curious explorer and I believe everyone can have and should have access to this right,” said Waithe. “The only real way to see change happen is by helping to create it yourself. I’m excited to work with The North Face and all of the Explore Fund Council members so our collective perspectives can help diversify the outdoors and make it a more equal place for all.”
“Throughout my life, exploration has been a constant source of positivity. I truly believe it is part of what makes us all human, and that exploration can bring people together and change lives,” said Chin. “Not everyone has the same access to or opportunity for outdoor adventure. This is an issue I’m excited to take on alongside The North Face and the other Explore Fund Council members.”
Waithe and Chin will work alongside additional creatives, academic experts, outdoor industry partners and more, so that collectively they can develop ideas to help create meaningful change. Together, this group will bring new perspective and input for how The North Face develops, selects and funds organizations through The Explore Fund. The plan is to have the full Explore Fund Council group of fellows in place and announced in Spring 2021.
Currently, communities of color are three times more likely to live in nature-deprived places and often face racism and other systemic challenges when they do explore. In its first year, the goal is for the Explore Fund Council to focus on how to create more culturally relevant exploration opportunities and connect diverse communities to the benefits of exploration.
“For 10 years, we’ve been working to reset the barriers to exploration and make it more accessible for all through our Explore Fund,” said Steve Lesnard, global VP of marketing and product for The North Face. “But 2020 has proven we need to radically accelerate that work and collaborate with a broad-reaching community to help us do so. We’re really excited to work alongside changemakers like Lena and Jimmy, and I believe the Explore Fund Council will help us foster a new, more equitable era for the outdoor industry.”
The North Face plans to address the need for equity and opportunity in the outdoor industry via additional programs, as well. This includes working to facilitate new and additional mentorship opportunities that would help empower future explorers who are curious, interested and passionate about the outdoors – but may not have access to equipment, adventures or outdoors experts they can look up to and learn from.
Learn more about The North Face call to “Reset Normal” and the new Explore Fund Council at www.thenorthface.com.
Photos courtesy The North Face