For many people this year, nature and the outdoors have provided the perfect escape from all that has happened in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. However, many people of color still consider it a dangerous space to navigate considering the limitations that exist outdoors based on our race.
In an effort to combat this belief, apparel brand The North Face has set a goal to address the lack of diversity in outdoor spaces for people of color, and so it has enlisted the help of Emmy Award-winning screenwriter and producer, Lena Waithe, and director, Jimmy Chin, to launch a new global initiative.
Access to exploration needs a reset. Lena Waithe and Jimmy Chin are helping us launch the Explore Fund Council—a new $7 million global program that brings together leading thinkers and nonprofits to accelerate equity in the outdoors. https://t.co/Ce0uATR37k pic.twitter.com/f68EPAPxHB
— The North Face (@thenorthface) October 16, 2020
According to The Cut, the “Reset Normal” campaign has pledged a total of $7 million toward diversifying the outdoors through the Explore Fund Council — a global fellowship program that will ultimately encourage people of color around the world to reset their “normal” lives through the power of outdoor exploration during this tumultuous time.
“For ten 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, in a statement. “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 idea behind the fellowship program is to gather a group of experts across culture, entertainment, academia, and the outdoors to help advise the brand on what funding from the initiative will go toward.
The North Face will address the need for equity and opportunity in the outdoor industry by facilitating new mentorship opportunities to help empower those who are curious about the outdoors but may not have direct access to resources.
Recruiting talents like Waithe and Chin to work alongside these experts will in the long run help the brand as a whole develop innovative ideas to create meaningful change for communities of color who wish to explore the outdoors.
“For me, exploration has always been a mindset,” said Waithe in a statement. “As a creative, I see myself as a constant, curious explorer and I believe everyone can have and should have access to this right. 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.”
Together, this group of fresh minds will help The North Face develop, select, and fund organizations through The Explore Fund. The brand plans to assemble the full Explore Fund Council group of fellows by Spring 2021.
For more information on the “Reset Normal” campaign and Explore Fund Council, click here.