Impact Giving | How Scholarships Strengthen Community

Donations received for #GivingTuesday on December 3 will directly support scholarships at The Mountaineers. Hear from scholarship recipient Ekaterina Sukhanova about the impact our courses have had on her life and how donor-funded scholarships make a difference in our community. After you #OptOutside this holiday season, consider giving in support of access to the outdoors.
Tyler Dunning Tyler Dunning
Development Manager
November 15, 2019

On Tuesday, December 3, 2019, The Mountaineers will participate in #GivingTuesday and once again all donations received on this day will directly support Mountaineers scholarships.

To amplify your generosity, Facebook will be matching up to $7 million USD in donations made through Facebook on this global day of giving. Anyone can start a fundraiser today for #GivingTuesday - if you're interested in setting up your own social media fundraiser and serving as a Mountaineers Ambassador, please reach out to Bri Vanderlinden by November 25.

Scholarships serve our entire community by increasing access to outdoor recreation, education, and conservation for youth and adults, no matter their ability to pay. These programs cultivate deep connections with our wild places and create future volunteers, community leaders, and stewards of our public lands. 

In this piece from Mountaineer magazine, we chat with scholarship recipient Ekaterina Sukhanova on the impact that our courses have made on her and why it's imperative that we continue to offer these opportunities.


When Ekaterina Sukhanova first moved to the Pacific Northwest from Sweden, she was looking to stay engaged. She was already an avid outdoorswoman, spending her time hiking, skiing, camping, and backpacking, but she wanted to expand her horizons to alpine climbing as well. She set a life goal to summit several notable peaks, including Mount Rainier. It was this dream that sparked her interest in The Mountaineers, and soon she was researching our course offerings.

However, those goals come with a price tag – even in a volunteer-run organization like The Mountaineers. Financial barriers to the outdoors, especially in specialized sports that require high-quality gear, often hinder progress, possibilities, and confidence. Luckily, Ekaterina spotted the scholarship application link on each course listing. From there she was able to receive scholarships and enroll in both Alpine Scrambling and Basic Alpine Climbing, bringing her several steps closer to her alpine goals.

“This scholarship program has impacted my life enormously,” Ekaterina said. “I’ve been able to increase my climbing and mountaineering skills while becoming closer to nature and learning more about conservation.”

Ekaterina received these scholarships through The Mountaineers Access Program (MAP) which provides scholarships to those who otherwise could not afford to participate in our programs and courses. This fund exists thanks to the generosity of our community and donors, and comes out of our commitment to provide access to outdoor recreation, education, and conservation opportunities to all.

Photo by Ekaterina Sukhanova

The MAP scholarship fund offers course scholarships as well as membership assistance. From youth programming to family memberships, everyone in our community can utilize this resource, and we’re excited that the MAP program has been so successful. This year alone, donors have given over $59,300 in scholarships, making it possible for 123 youth and adults to experience the wonders of the great outdoors - many for the first time. This funding comes from a variety of sources, including our annual fundraising gala and our year-end appeal. Additional scholarship support comes from gifts given throughout the year, like the recent $10,000 donation two long-time members made to the Tacoma Branch to support new climbers. 

For some, scholarships are a meaningful way to honor community members who are no longer with us. In 2019, John and Julie Waldhausen established the Liesl Waldhausen Basic Alpine Scholarship, in honor of their daughter Liesl, who passed away unexpectedly before her Basic Alpine Climbing Course began. This gift will award one basic alpine climbing student a full scholarship each year to learn to climb, grow their community, and deepen their connection to the outdoors.

John and Julie understand the importance of these opportunities, saying, “We hope to help foster an appreciation of the outdoors and an understanding of why preservation of our wild spaces is so important to people in general, but especially in young people. We’re honored to offer this opportunity to a student who may not otherwise be able to take the course without financial support.”

Scholarship opportunities like these embody the ethos of The Mountaineers and reflect our desire to come together to learn, grow, and enjoy incredible transformations in the outdoors.

As Ekaterina puts it, “I feel lucky to have found such a supportive community filled with incredible people who are passionate about the outdoors.”

And that’s the crux of it all: by providing opportunities for all people, we’re creating a diverse and inclusive outdoors to inspire unity, respect, and passion for places we love.

Scholarships got people outside this year:*

  • $64,907 awarded
  • to 142 youth & adults
  • covering 30%-70% of course costs for scholarship recipients
  • made possible by 163 donors

*These numbers have been updated since the original  publication to reflect the complete fiscal year 2019.

Congratulations to our new graduates from Alpine Scrambling, Basic Alpine Climbing, Sea Kayaking, Waterfall Canyoning, Wilderness First Aid, and Wilderness Navigation across all branches!

Scholarship FAQ

  • Anyone may apply for a scholarship for any course or membership with any branch. The Mountaineers uses a combination of total household income, number of dependents, student status, and special circumstances to determine eligibility and awards.
  • Apply for financial assistance on our website at www.mountaineers.org/scholarships.
  • Allow two weeks for processing. Be sure to apply at least two weeks before you wish to register for the course or activate your membership. We are unable to refund fees paid if you receive a scholarship after paying for the course or your membership.
  • We award financial assistance up to four times per person, per year in order to serve as many people as possible.
  • Questions about scholarships? Email info@mountaineers.org or call 206-521-6001 to speak to one of our member services representatives.

Take Action:

Facebook has pledged to match up to $7 million USD in donations made on Facebook on #GivingTuesday.

 If you are interested in setting up your own social media fundraiser and serving as a Mountaineers Ambassador, please reach out to Bri Vanderlinden by November 25. You can start a fundraiser today for this global day of giving. 

All donations received for #GivingTuesday will directly support Mountaineers scholarships.


This article originally appeared in our Fall 2019 issue of Mountaineer Magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, click here.

The Mountaineers® is a 501(c)(3) organization supported through earned revenue and elevated through charitable contributions, tax ID:27-3009280, 7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115.