grant guidelines


Who Can Apply
We welcome applications from: local climbing groups, individuals or organizations (Note: tax exempt 501(c)(3) status is not a pre-requisite); governmental agencies that wish to sponsor or organize a local project; conservation organizations and land trusts.

Grants to Individuals: Individuals are required to report grant money as income. IRS Form 1099 will be issued for all grants in excess of $600. Please consult your tax adviser for information regarding your specific reporting requirements.

Only one proposal from an organization will be considered per year. Applications from organizations that have never received AF funding will be given priority over applications from past grant recipients.

We fund work which:

  • is action-oriented
  • builds local climber involvement and support
  • is strategic in its targeting and goals
  • accomplishes specific goals and objectives that can be effectively measured
  • takes place in the United States
  • encourages access or enhance opportunities for climbing
  • develops knowledge about natural and cultural resource values where the information is used to open climbing areas or mitigate climbing impacts
  • reduces climber impacts on natural and cultural resources within the climbing environment
  • raises awareness about climber responsibility toward conserving the climbing environment
  • is supported by the climbing community
  • utilizes matching agency or local funds (ideally this will be at least 50%)
  • incorporates a degree of volunteer labor and/or pro bono services

We do not fund:

  • fixed anchors, bolts, bolt installation, etc.
  • outdoor programs (e.g. taking groups climbing, at-risk programs, youth groups)
  • climbing equipment
  • marketing or membership recruitment
  • facility construction (e.g. indoor climbing walls, artificial climbing facilities, ice parks)
  • paid positions and travel stipends
  • political campaigns

Any proposal for facilities, trail work or installation of signage on public lands requires land owner/manager permission and support. For example, building a trail on federal public lands often requires some level of environmental review and compliance with federal laws. State agencies may have their own environmental review procedures. This means that projects with a facility component require a long lead-time in the planning phase to gain the necessary approval. Check early on with the agency or landowner to gain understanding of their approval process. If your project does require agency approval, a letter from the landowner/manager must be submitted with your proposal.

Land Acquisitions: Considering the management and financial resources of land ownership, the Access Fund views land acquisitions as a tool of last resort and have adopted the following guidelines for land acquisition projects. If you are requesting funds for a land acquisitions please call the Access Fund before submitting your application.

  • The area must be imminently threatened with permanent closure or sale to an outside party that may consider land development opportunities or other uses threatening its climbing and/or access resources.
  • The area can be acquired for a reasonable price (reasonable price being one that falls within existing market values and is not in excess of appraised value), together with a reasonable budget (including secured funding) or secured exit-strategy for management by another land trust, local climbers organization or governmental agency.
  • A fully executed purchase agreement stating how the project will be funded is required before Access Fund grant funds will be allocated to any acquisition.
  • A high degree of matching funds is required. The Access Fund's role in land acquisitions is as an additional, not primary, funding resource.
  • Applicants whose projects require continued payments and/or financing should submit a plan describing how these payments will be met in the future. These include, but are not limited to, property tax payments, loan payments, lease and mortgage payments. This payment plan will be taken into consideration during the grant review process.