Youth Programs and Scholarship Overview

Through the generous support of our donors, we are able to provide environmental education for all. 

Thank you for creating transformational experiences for young people in the North Cascades by supporting scholarships today!

Looking to Apply for Scholarships? Find applications and more on these pages: Adult and Family Programs; Youth Leadership Adventures; Graduate M.Ed. Program 

© Buff Black

Mountain 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 (grades 5-12) come to the North Cascades with their school class, teachers, and chaperones for three to five days 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.” ~ Parkview Elementary chaperone

Youth 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 (ages 14-18) are diverse. Some are first generation immigrants; some have grown up in rural gateway communities; most could not do this program without a scholarship; all of them rediscover themselves in discovering the North Cascades. Whether it’s seeing the stars for the first time, plunging into a glacier-fed lake, lugging a backpack over rugged terrain, or seeing the fruits of their labor in restoring a trail, our students are transformed by learning and working together. After their field program, students are mentored and encouraged to attend our Reunion and Youth Leadership Conference to continue their engagement.

© Andy Porter Photography
Named Annual Scholarships are a significant way to assist students. Scholarships may be named for individuals, businesses, 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 $1,200 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 student(s) in the field next summer. Students tell us how much this personal commitment from donors means to them: “I seriously cannot thank you enough for the opportunities and doors that have opened because of your support. Truly I am in your debt forever.” – Ezekiel, YLA Scholarship Recipient.

Endowed 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 scholarships will be awarded from the earnings on the fund based on board approved spending policies (typically a 4% distribution is calculated).

North Cascades Institute Scholarship: 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 Named Annual Scholarship, how is my money spent?

Every dollar you contribute to a Mountain School 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 each spring. 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 facilitate opportunities for interested donors to connect 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. We will also share any thank you notes received from the student or class benefiting from your support. 

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 possibilities 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 the selection of 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 may not qualify as a tax-deductible contribution.

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

The Finance Committee of the Institute’s Board of Directors oversees all investment activities, which are guided by the Board’s investment policies. BNY Mellon provides management of 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?

Your endowment gift will be invested so that the Institute can annually distribute scholarships from the earnings on the fund based on board approved spending policies (typically 4% of the average market value of the fund over the trailing 36 months). These funds are spent in the following year. This process ensures that the endowment fund corpus 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,