FA foundation_Horizontal-01 (1)

We believe climbing is for all people. At the same time, we recognize that climbing has historically been accessible only to a privileged few, and that the climbing community in our gyms does not represent the diversity we see in the cities we serve. That’s why we launched the FA Foundation. 

Our Mission: Harness the energy of the climbing community to provide access and programming to underserved people and communities, breaking down barriers to entry and creating pathways to pursue climbing for life.

We’re focusing the work of the FA Foundation on two main initiatives:

By June 2023, our goal is to provide 1,500 people with a climbing experience and 400 people with long term climbing access. We know there is a lot of work to be done, and that these efforts represent a small step in the right direction, but we’re glad to be on the journey.

Questions? Drop us a line at foundation@faclimbing.com.


Foundation Update: June 2022

After a year since we launched the FA Foundation in June 2021, we want to update the FA community with some highlights from the year and let you know what’s coming next.

Here are the highlights from the last year:

1. Through REACH and RISE combined, we’ve provided free or reduced-price climbing access and experiences to over 700 youth and adults in the last year, welcoming these climbers despite the challenges of the ongoing pandemic.

2. We now have 7 REACH Programs running across our Chicago gyms, providing weekly coached climbing sessions to 70+ kids each week from partner organizations including the Noble Network of Charter Schools, Chicago Youth Centers, and Breakthrough.

3. We hosted a REACH Competition for our 4 Noble Network partners, with 20 kids participating. Everyone had an awesome experience showing off the climbing skills they’ve been developing and cheering each other on as they tackled stellar boulders the FA Setting Team put up just for the comp, and at the end of the day, the Bulls Prep crew prevailed and took home the trophy. Here are some photos from the competition:


4. Our RISE Membership program has served over 160 members, 40% of which identify as Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Color and comprising over 4800 visits to FA locations. Here’s what some of our RISE members are saying about the program:

5. Brandon Bradberry recently stepped up to the role of REACH Program Coordinator as part of his promotion to Gym Manager at FA Block 37. We’re excited to have Brandon continue to oversee the success of the program, hire and train staff to be REACH instructors, and bring on new REACH partners.

6. We sponsored 3 adaptive athletes in their training with free access to FA gyms as they prepared for the Paraclimbing World Cup in November. Read all about their journey on our blog here.

Looking ahead to the coming year, our goals for the FA Foundation are:

1. Continue to fill RISE membership capacity through community outreach, member awareness, and word of mouth efforts. We are increasing capacity to 35 memberships per month (5 memberships per FA location per month) for 2022, or a total of 420 memberships for the year FA-wide.

2. Continue providing climbing experiences for youth and adults from partner organizations in pursuit of our goal to provide 1,500 people with a climbing experience by June 2023.

3. Launch at least 1 REACH program in Peoria, Pittsburgh, and Arlington Heights
There are 3 ways you can help:

1. Help us connect with other organizations. If you know of any organizations we should work with, please email us at foundation@faclimbing.com to connect us

2. Share the RISE Membership. If you know of someone who might benefit from the RISE membership program, please send them to faclimbing.com/rise to learn more and submit an application

3. Apply to be a REACH instructor! We’re always looking for great instructors and mentors for our REACH program. Learn more and apply here: faclimbing.com/careers

And of course if you have any questions, please contact foundation@faclimbing.com and we’d be happy to answer them.
Lastly, we want to give a HUGE shoutout to Brandon Bradberry for continuing to make the REACH program a huge success, and to Sydney Seabrook for her work overseeing the RISE membership program. Thanks to you both for all of your effort and initiative!
Thanks for reading, and let’s keep climbing higher together!
Dan Bartz
Co-founder | First Ascent Climbing & Fitness