Making it work for everyone.
FSFNS aims to lead with a spirit of compassion, deep reflection and understanding, and we begin this effort by honoring the truth of the history that brings us to where we are today. Thus, we resolve every day to recommit to doing what we can to root out barriers to participation in our programming and the outdoors, and to move towards a more just and equitable community and organization. While this work is ongoing, our mission of creating meaningful connections with Nature for everyone will never be fulfilled until we can overcome this.
Our organization still has a lot of work to do in our community and this is just the beginning. Take a look below for how we are gently tackling this prevalent diversity gap to make nature-connection programming more accessible to everyone and improve representation in our program so that all families feel safe and included in the outdoors.
Feel compelled to help? For more info, click here.
To financially support our work:
Sliding Scale Payment System
We structure our program fees through a sliding scale system in an effort to create equal access opportunities to the resources of this land and our program. By using a sliding scale, we are practicing economic solidarity: we’re cooperating with all FNS Families to create a more equitable and inclusive community. We’re committed to making sure that financial challenges are not a hindrance to access participation in our programs. This means that you decide the price that is best suited for you to pay for your participation in our programs ($55-70/day).
When you pay for an FNS Program, you are contributing to our mission of connecting all children with nature, themselves and others. You make it possible for us to focus on becoming a space where all children can be together. As a not-for-profit, after covering our costs, all extra funds go directly into bridging financial gaps and funding various bursaries and scholarships (see below).
If you’d like to financially support children in accessing our program please click here for more information.
Indigenous Tuition Program
Indigenous people are welcome to attend the FSFNS core program free of charge, if desired.
As a predominately non-Indigenous led organization, it is a privilege for us to live and work here on these ancestral lands and we thank you as original caretakers of this land who have lived and continue to live here since time immemorial. We know that past and present systems in place – which some of us at FSFNS have largely benefited from – have hurt people and that these debts can never be repaid. We are honored by your presence at FSFNS and should you choose to attend, we thank you for supporting our organization and school.APPLY NOW
The natural world should be a place of healing and enjoyment for all. FSFNS recognizes that barriers to safe spaces exist and as an organization we are constantly learning about how to be a better, more effective ally. Oppressive social structures, systemic racism and historical trauma are certainly at work in keeping BIPOC, LGBTQ2+ and others from having a meaningful connection to the natural world and/or accessing programs like ours. Let’s work together to improve these conditions in our community and support your learning as well.
A partial or full tuition reduction is available to those who have experienced marginalization in the outdoor industry, if you choose. We acknowledge the courage it takes to attend a program in a field that has traditionally been (and continues to be) exclusive and marginalizing of so many valuable people. If you have felt this or otherwise consider yourself to be fit for this, please apply.APPLY NOW
Al’s Legacy (Financial Aid Bursary)
Our friend Al was actively involved with Free Spirit for many years. In 2009, Al was taken from our community much too early, no doubt while doing what he loved – being in the outdoors and connecting others to nature. To this day, his sense of adventure and wonder in the wilderness is not forgotten. He brought so much joy, playfulness and passion wherever he went and his energy was simply contagious, along with his desire to learn… at least outside of the classroom, as his mom has shared with us!
We are committed to providing programs for all families who see value in our programming, regardless of income and ability to pay. With funds raised by Al’s family, as well as through special events, business sponsorship, our sliding scale pricing and private donations, we are able to help support students and families participate in FSFNS through tuition reduction and scholarships. To date over $30,000 has been given in financial assistance through this fund – and while barriers to accessing our programs continue to exist, this bursary is in place to ensure that income level and access to wealth is not one. If you’d like to apply, please click below. If you’d like to donate, please click here.APPLY NOW
While we try to make it work for everybody, our bursaries depend on available funding so please also see if you qualify for any of the following support:
Michael C. Moore Bursary
We are grateful to the Moore family for their generous allowance and encouragement for us to run our programming on their land. It is a beautiful space that significantly enhances our students’ Nature connection. In honour of their generosity, we offer a full bursary awarded to one student annually for participation in our Meaford program who may not otherwise be able to attend programming.APPLY NOW
Used Gear Depot
Getting suited up for the outdoors, particularly for each season, is expensive. One of the often neglected pieces of the inclusion and equity equation in the outdoors is a hard look at economic access. We are constantly building up our gear depot/lending library for outdoor clothing and gear in hopes of overcoming this obstacle. If your child needs anything, please check with us first. If your child has outgrown something and you wish to gift it to the depot, we will gratefully accept all donations. Thanks!