The AAC Cornerstone Conservation Grant, powered by REI, formally launched in 2011 with the goal of funding projects to improve, conserve, and protect local climbing resources across the country. Since that first year, we have awarded nearly $205,000 to local climbing organizations (LCOs), land managers and agencies, nonprofits, and individuals for projects as varied as building or improving trail networks to climbing areas; establishing new toilet facilities and signage at trailheads; and deploying a variety of community groups for clean-up and graffiti removal at local crags.

Volunteers with the Carolina Climbers Coalition work on the Eagle Rock Climber Access Trail (the “Tunnel Trail”) within Chimney Rock State Park (2017).

Volunteers with the Carolina Climbers Coalition work on the Eagle Rock Climber Access Trail (the “Tunnel Trail”) within Chimney Rock State Park (2017).

As we look ahead to the future of climbing and the availability of outdoor recreation opportunities for all, our Cornerstone Conservation Grant represents our commitment to supporting local climbing communities in their conservation and restoration initiatives.

More individuals, families, and groups are spending time in climbing areas and landscapes, causing added environmental stress and degradations to these places. We look to local climbing communities to identify areas in need of conservation, restoration, and educational resources for visitors. Our goals for Cornerstone remain the same: create healthy climbing landscapes, promote respect for the places we climb, and empower local climbing communities. We look forward to supporting your project!

Grants range from $1,000 to $8,000, depending on the size and scope of project.

Map Of Previous Cornerstone Conservation Grant Projects

Projects must:

  • Have measurable, high impact yet achievable goals

  • Incorporate best practices for sustainability

  • Improve land conservation and/or climber practices

  • Demonstrate reduced impact from climber practices

  • Demonstrate a plan for long term success

  • Engage members of the local climbing community, such as local AAC chapters and local REI stores.

  • Have local land manager endorsement

  • Have local AAC Section endorsement

  • Have a realistic budget

  • Utilize matching agency, local funds or Access Fund grant money

We do not fund projects whose primary goal is land acquisition or fixed anchor replacement. We believe these projects are valuable for the climbing community and may be able to support them in other ways including through the joint Access Fund / AAC Anchor Replacement Fund. If you have questions about these types of projects and how the AAC can support you, please feel free to contact us at [email protected]

Please note that we coordinate closely with the Access Fund in reviewing grant proposals and awarding funding.

The AAC accepts applications every year between June 15 and August 15. Applicants will be advised on or before September 30. Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.

Grant Recipient Responsibilities:

  • If for any reason the project is canceled or significantly changed, awarded funds must be returned to the AAC in full. Please contact the AAC office if your proposal changes.

  • If, after a grant is awarded, additional funding is obtained and the grant funds are no longer needed, or if a project is “over funded,” the recipient is asked to return all surplus funds to the AAC.

  • Within two months of project completion, all grant recipients are required to submit to the AAC a written report (including photos) for possible inclusion in AAC publications and/or posting on the AAC website. Please alert the AAC if your project dates change. Failure to submit a report will result in applicant being ineligible for future AAC grants.

  • Any photos submitted with a report may be reproduced in any manner the AAC desires for use on the AAC website or marketing materials. The AAC will have the right to use photos submitted with a report on the AAC website or marketing materials.

  • Include an acknowledgment of support by the AAC in all publications or presentations related to the supported project.