Program and Scholarship Overview

© Buff BlackMountain School gives young people experiences they will remember forever and lays the foundation for lifelong learning, passion, and curiosity in and about nature. Our students (5th - 12th grade) come to the North Cascades with their school class for three to five days with teacher and chaperones to learn about the ecosystems, geology, and the natural and cultural history of these mountains. Pre- and post-trip visits prepare students for concepts they will learn and the application of conservation principles in their daily lives. They leave with a strong connection with one another and with their wild backyard. “Mountain School is the great equalizer for all kids. It’s encouraging to see how all different types of learners are engaged in the outdoor classroom.” - Chaperone, Parkview Elementary

CFY-PROGRAM-YLAYouth Leadership Adventures builds strong leaders who are passionate about the natural world and the role of people and communities within it. We combine a unique mix of learning about natural and cultural history, field science, and sustainability with leadership training and service projects. Our students are diverse. Some are first generation immigrants discovering their public lands for the first time; others discover the North Cascades through the lens of community, stewardship, and leadership. Whether it’s seeing the stars for the first time, plunging into an alpine lake, lugging a backpack over rugged terrain, or seeing the fruits of their labor of restoring a trail or campsite, our students are deeply affected by learning and working together. After their field program of 8 days (ages 14-16) or 16 days (ages 16-18), students are assigned adult mentors and encouraged to attend our Reunion and Youth Leadership Conference in the fall.

© Andy Porter PhotographyNamed Annual Scholarships are a significant way to assist students and they offer a great way for you to personalize your gift. Scholarships may be named for individuals, businesses, or organizations, or you may honor a loved one. Donors may designate their scholarship for Mountain School, Youth Leadership Adventures, or leave it open to both. A minimum gift of $1,000 per year will establish a named scholarship. You will receive information about the student(s) or classroom who receives the scholarship, and, if awarded for YLA, a letter from the student(s) and a chance to visit the student(s) in the field next summer. Students tell us how much this personal commitment from donors means to them.

CFY-ENDOW-SCHOLARSHIPSEndowed Scholarships ensures that your gift lives in perpetuity. An endowment fund creates a legacy that speaks to an individual’s life, values and commitments while making a real difference in the lives of our students. A minimum gift of $25,000 (which may be pledged over 2-3 years) will establish an endowed scholarship. An endowed fund can be created through a bequest, charitable remainder trust, existing life insurance policy, or by endowing a fund today. We will work closely with you to formalize an endowment agreement that reflects your specific needs. Each year 4% of the endowment fund will be awarded to a deserving student or classroom.

CFY-NCI-SCHOLARSHIPSNorth Cascades Institute Scholarship: Can’t donate $1,000 or more? A gift of any size can help change kids’ lives! A person, business, or family foundation can contribute any amount; these contributions are bundled and disbursed as a North Cascades Institute Scholarship for our youth programs.

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Thank you for your support!

Scholarships – Frequently Asked Questions

Can I support a program directly rather than give to scholarships?

Yes. You can contribute directly to any Institute program. We gratefully accept cash, stock and in-kind gifts. If you would like to make a gift of stock or in-kind equipment, vehicle, etc., please contact us.

If I donate to a scholarship, how is my money spent?

Every dollar you contribute to a Mountain School scholarship or Youth Leadership Adventures scholarship will directly support a school or student participating in the program. The Institute has a strong base of earned income that covers operational expenses. This enables us to direct all of your contribution to where it’s needed most – directly to students and schools.

What is the timeline for scholarship awards?

Students in Youth Leadership Adventures are invited to apply for scholarship funds when they apply for the program (prior to April). Schools participating in Mountain School may apply for scholarships when they register throughout the year. Donors are notified of scholarship awards after selections have been made.

Will I have the opportunity to meet the student or school who receives money from my scholarship?

Yes. We make every effort to connect donors with the student or class they are supporting, whether at the Learning Center for Mountain School or on Ross Lake or Baker Lake for Youth Leadership Adventures. You will also receive a thank you note from the student or class benefiting from your support. We will make every effort to facilitate other opportunities for interested donors to meet with their scholarship recipient(s).

Can I create a Named Annual Scholarship and remain anonymous?

Yes, you are free to name a scholarship whatever you wish. It can be named for your business, a favorite place, or to honor or memorialize a loved one. The options are endless.

Can I place any restrictions on my scholarship?

Yes, you can restrict your scholarship to support either Mountain School or Youth Leadership Adventures if you choose.

Do I have any say in who gets the scholarship?

IRS regulations prevent donors from being directly involved in choosing the student or school that receives their scholarship money. If you wish to support a particular student or school, we will help facilitate your gift; however, it will not qualify as a tax-deductible contribution to a 501(c)3 organization.

If I create an endowed scholarship, how is my money invested?

The Finance Committee of the Institute’s Board of Directors oversees all investments guided by the Board’s investment policies. BNY Mellon manages our investments. Please contact us if you would like to see a copy of our investment policies or discuss this in more detail.

How much of the endowment is spent for scholarships each year?

The Institute annually distributes 4% of the endowment fund(s) balance at the end of every calendar year. These funds are spent in the following year. This process ensures that an endowment will live in perpetuity, given yearly fluctuations in market activity.




More questions? Contact Jodi Broughton, Development & Marketing Director, 360-854-2596, or Paula Berg, Development Associate, 360-854-2585,



North Cascades Institute has received its TENTH consecutive four-star rating from Charity Navigator!  LEARN MORE


"Retired National Park Service Ranger Gerry Cook chats with Youth Leadership Adventures participant Elizabeth during a stop in the Devil's Creek outflow into Ross Lake. Elizabeth, 16, grew up in a refugee camp in Thailand and didn't know English when she came to the U.S. five years ago. During her presentation, the softspoken young woman said she wanted to start a Burmese club at her school to help new immigrants learn about American culture."  —

Purchase "The Wild Nearby"

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Add $37.50 to your donation today to receive your copy of The North Cascades: Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby. Indicate your purchase in the "Notes or requests" box. Or download the order form here.

Saul Weisberg: Executive Director

big_quotation_mark.pngThis past year, we taught thousands of kids about this special place. Thanks to the donors we were able to reach out to children that would have otherwise not had the opportunity to experience the North Cascades.

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