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Outdoor Scholarships for Women and BIPOC Athletes This Year

Looking for more resources, be it for education, funding, or outdoor experience? We've got you covered. Check out the latest options for outdoor scholarship programs here.
3 snowboarders pose with their boards atop a peak in Aspen, Colorado(Photo/Aspen Ski Co.)
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There’s still a lack of diversity in the outdoors. Thankfully, many organizations, nonprofit groups, brands, and individuals are taking action to change that. In recent years, dozens of organizations and education courses have expanded opportunities for certifications, participation, clinics, and more. So, we decided to create a roundup of opportunities for this upcoming year that focus on equity in participation and leadership.

This isn’t an exhaustive list; we’ll update it as more programming opportunities become available. Scholarships listed here have application deadlines ranging from March to December 2024. Many applications are already starting for the 2024/25 season.

Editor’s note: Many scholarship programs and organizations, like NOLS and AMGA, offer education courses, and are open to all applicants. In this article, we focus on programs with specific provisions for minorities — BIPOC, queer, and female applicants — to help increase equity in the outdoors and outdoor industry.


BIPOC Scholarship Resources

Blackbird Mountain Guides (CA, WA): Scholarships are available for Blackbird Mountain Guides programming. “The Blackbird BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Avalanche Course Scholarship is to acknowledge a lack of representation in the ski industry and remove financial barriers to avalanche education.” Scholarships can be used for AIARE or Avalanche Rescue courses. Applications open in fall 2024.

Climbers of Color: Offers scholarships year-round for alpine, climbing, ice and rock, and leadership courses and trips. Visit the website for more info. Climbers of Color also offers a program for discounted gym climbing memberships.

Eddie Bauer One Outside Film Grant program: Eddie Bauer’s program (founded in 2021) awards six $10,000 grants to BIPOC filmmakers. Filmmakers will also receive support through workshops with the brand’s One Outside community leaders. Eddie Bauer has not yet announced applications for 2024.

Spyder and National Brotherhood of Skiers Scholarship Program: The first year of this scholarship, sponsored by Spyder and NBS, is open to Black junior skiers. “The scholarship program will sponsor three junior Black skiers per year until they earn their high school diplomas,” said Spyder in a Facebook post.

Black man wearing SPYDER goggles while downhill skiing and smiling
NBS President Henri Rivers skiing.

National Brotherhood of Skiers Women of Winter Scholarships: Besides its annual summit, the NBS now offers a scholarship program for BIWOC (women of color) to become Alpine Ski or Snowboard instructors. Scholarships open each fall for the following winter season. Learn more online.

EDGE Outdoors Snow Sports Scholarships: This scholarship program for women of color “[addresses] the invisibility of WOC in snowsports by eliminating entry cost barriers.” Scholarships for 2024 include ski and ride scholarships, athlete development scholarships, and instructor training scholarships. The application process opens each fall.

A Quick Brown Fox Thee Abundance Mini-Grant Program: This cycling-focused grant program, organized by pro cyclist Ayesha Rosena Anna McGowan, is open to Black and Brown women of color. “5-7 women of color will receive free entry and support to race the Tour of America’s Dairyland,” organizers shared in 2022. The program has since expanded. Applications for two mini-grants, sponsored by Zwift and SRAM, open in April 2024 and May 2024, respectively.

AMGA Affinity Scholarships: Scholarship applications closed in February 2024; there are over nine different affinity courses available in 2024, specific for women, LGBTQ+ and queer folks, and BIPOC participants. Programs run from May 2024 through October 2024.

how to gym climb pointers questions new climber
(Photo/Nate Mitka)

Climbing4Change BIPOC Climbing Grants: Kai Lightner’s foundation offers grants to BIPOC individuals. The $1,000 grants can cover programming, equipment, travel, and competition costs, or AMGA education. Learn more and apply online. Applications are open from February through October 2024.

Outdoor Afro x Backroads Travel Underground Railroad Bike Tour: The tour is planned for October 2021 on the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina and includes biking, hiking, and kayaking.

No Man’s Land Film Festival Black Filmmaker Grant: This grant is “an opportunity for Black female filmmakers, storytellers, and athletes to come together and pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.” One winner will be awarded $2,500.

Mountains of Color Filmmaker Grants: Filmmaker submissions to this BIPOC-centered film festival are currently open through March 31, 2024. “Submissions are open to BIPOC+-centered films and filmmakers (under 30min) that redefine how we showcase BIPOC+ people and their connection to nature,” wrote the founders. All films selected for screening will be notified by April 21, 2024.

AMGA x Black Diamond BIPOC Rock Course (paid course, scholarships available): This single-pitch climbing instructor education course is scheduled for Sept. 4-11, 2024. Scholarships are offered through a reimbursement process. Applications are currently in open enrollment.

NOLS Affinity Programs: The National Outdoor Leadership School, known more commonly as NOLS, has six affinity programs. There are specific programs for girls (teens), women, LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and military service members. BIPOC Expeditions this year include a WFR course, a Leaders of Color course, and a rock climbing course; other courses include expeditions in mountaineering, backpacking, and more.

A clinic group at ALL IN Ice Fest, 2024; (photo/Mary Murphy)

ALL IN Ice Fest: A newer festival in the world of ice climbing, founded by Dr. Liz Sahagún, ALL IN’s mission is to “elevate and highlight marginalized communities — including Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA2S+ communities, and adaptive climbers.” The Festival not only offers specific clinics and workshops for BIPOC and adaptive climbers but also a guide and professional development program. The festival and paid clinics are accessible and provided on a sliding cost scale.

Women’s Scholarship Resources

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Orvis 50/50 on the Water Program: This program offers scholarships and educational opportunities for women in fishing and paddling. A portion of proceeds from each Orvis 50/50 on the Water campaign hat or T-shirt “goes to creating more fishing courses, resources, and experiences for women.” In addition to its program for women, Orvis also offers a Breaking Barrier Award for minority anglers for their leadership, representation, education, service, and work in their communities. Info on nominations can be found online.

AAI Guide Like Liz Scholarship: Applications for this American Alpine Insitute scholarship can be applied toward any seven mountaineering, rope, leadership, or alpinism AAI courses. Anyone 18 and over who “identifies as belonging to marginalized genders, including female, genderqueer, trans, non-binary, and femmes” is eligible. The program was established in honor of guide Liz Daley, who died in an avalanche in Patagonia in 2014. The application is currently open for 2024. Apply now online.

AMGA Women’s Scholarships (sponsored by Mammut, Eddie Bauer, Outdoor Research, and more): Full scholarships to AMGA courses are available. 2024 scholarship applications are open from May through July of the previous year.

AWE Summit Scholarship Foundation Program: This program has funded women’s mountaineering and backcountry missions since 2019. As of 2024, the total funding reached $130,000. The application process closed in February 2024 this year, so keep your eyes open for next year’s opportunities.

AIARE Women’s Scholarship Program: “Women make up a disproportionately small number of avalanche educators in the U.S., and many women in the field find it difficult to grow and sustain their careers. The financial, sociological, and other barriers faced by everyone in the industry are often exacerbated for women.” 2024 marks AIARE’s third season of its Women’s Mentorship Program. Interested participants can apply to either be a mentee or mentor. Applications for 2024/2025 open in the fall.

best down jacket
GearJunkie staff editor Morgan Tilton; (photo/Xander Bianchi)

Blizzard-Tecnica Women2Women Education Scholarship Program: Applications for the 2024/25 season will open in December, with scholarships awarded in January. In the inaugural year of this scholarship program, Blizzard awarded over $15,000 to 18 scholarship recipients. In 2022, Blizzard Tecnica added a Hilaree Nelson Education Scholarship to its women’s programming.

Jones “Live Like Liz” Award: Winners of this snowboarding grant receive $1,500, plus a Jones splitboard, skins, and a backpack. Recipients may be of any gender, background, or nationality, but they must be U.S. citizens to apply. Applications open in October.

SheJumps Snowpack Scholarship: This program “provides an educational bridge” for women in snowsports. SheJumps will soon announce the dates for this year’s application cycle.

Grit&Rock Expedition Grants: This program is the inaugural year of expedition grants available to only women to promote female participation and advancement in mountaineering. Learn how to apply.

LGBTQIA+ and Queer Community Resources

(Photo/Cheshire Li for Flash Foxy)

In addition to programs already listed open to LGBTQ+ applicants, here are some more LGBTQ+-specific opportunities:

The Queer Climber’s Network Scholarships: Various scholarships for people in the queer community, including a queer filmmaker’s grant, SPI courses for queer climbers, and the partnership with Mountain Hardwear for its Open Aperture Clinic, led by trans climber Nikki Smith.

Gay Outdoors: One of the largest and oldest queer outdoor-focused groups. Gay Outdoors was founded in 1999 and offers events, leadership opportunities, and programming year-round.

The Venture Out Project: Offers programming, education, trips, and workshops for the LGBTQIA+ community. Current programming is online. Since its founding in 2014, Venture Out has “increasingly focused on skill-building and leadership development within the LGBTQ+ community.”

Summit Scholarship Foundation: “Summit Scholarship program offers a series of mountaineering and adventure stipends to help break down the barriers to entry to the big mountain realm for women and gender-diverse adventurers from all walks of life.” Scholarship funds for 2024 totaled over $55,000. Applications for 2024 programs closed in March but will reopen in December for the 24/25 season.

The Queer Outdoor Job Board: Networking and job opportunities for queer people in the outdoor industries.

OutRyders: “OutRyders is New England’s largest LGBTQ+ ski and snowboard club.” They offer membership programming and discounted trip opportunities.

Wild Diversity: Offers programming, guides, and leadership workshops. Based in Oregon in the PNW, Wild Diversity’s “mission is a deep commitment to nurturing the growth and learning of BIPOC & LGBTQ+ Communities” and “to build a world in which BIPOC, Queer, and Trans outdoorists can thrive.” Its new guide development program will be open soon for 2025.


Editor’s note: This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you know of a scholarship or resource not listed that’s available to the affinity groups above, please let us know! We want this list to be a resource for 2024 and beyond!

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