Program and Scholarship Overview

Mountain School gives young people experiences they will remember forever – a chance to increase their knowledge of the world with their bodies, minds and spirits. A nationally recognized environmental education program, Mountain School takes place in the heart of North Cascades National Park, where students have direct and deep experiences learning about the natural world. Our students (5th through 12th grade) come to the North Cascades with their school class, teacher and chaperones to learn about the ecosystems, geology and natural and cultural history of the mountains. They leave with a strong, intimate connection with one another and with wild places. This program lays the foundation for lifelong learning, passion, and curiosity in and about nature.

Youth Leadership Adventures builds strong leaders who are passionate about the natural world and the role of people and communities within it. During summer expeditions, students canoe, camp, backpack and complete service projects while receiving hands-on training in outdoor leadership, field science, communication skills and public speaking. Upon returning home, students in Science and Sustainability courses design and implement their own service projects in their home communities. 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. Together, we strengthen our communities and change young lives for the better. Whether it’s seeing the stars for the first time, plunging into an alpine lake, lugging a 50-pound pack for five miles over rugged terrain, or seeing the fruits of their labor from restoring a backcountry trail or campsite, our students are deeply affected by learning and working together. After their field program ends, all students are assigned an adult mentor and encouraged to attend our Youth Leadership Conference. Over 74% of our students receive scholarships to subsidize their participation.

Named Annual Scholarships are a significant and immediate way to assist students through Institute programs. They offer a great way for you to personalize your generous gift. Scholarships may be named for individuals, businesses or organizations, or you may memorialize or 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.

Endowed Scholarships ensures your gift lives in perpetuity. It creates a legacy that speaks to an individual’s (or an organization’s) life, values and commitments while making a real difference in the lives of our students. The Institute’s development staff will work closely with you to formalize an endowment agreement that reflects your specific needs. A minimum gift of $25,000 (which may be pledged over several 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. Each year 4% of the endowment fund balance will be awarded to a deserving student. General Institute Youth Scholarships You may also contribute any amount to the Institute’s General Scholarship Annual or Endowment Funds. A person, business, or family foundation can contribute any amount; these contributions are bundled and disbursed as a North Cascades Institute Scholarship. Scholarship awards typically range between $1,000 and $3,500.



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 both cash and in-kind gifts. If you would like to make an in-kind gift (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. 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 Mountain School or Youth Leadership Adventures. You can also permit your scholarship to support either one.

Do I have any say in who gets the scholarship?

IRS regulation prevents donors from being directly involved in choosing the student or school who receives their scholarship money. If you wish to support a particular student or school, we will help facilitate your contribution; however, your support 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 Institute’s Finance Committee of the Board of Directors oversees all investment activities managed by BNY Mellon, which are guided by the Board’s investment policies. 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 four percent (4%) of the endowment fund(s) balance at the end of every fiscal year, for spending in the following year. This will ensure that an endowment will live in perpetuity, given yearly fluctuations in market activity.


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

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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