2019 Viola Award Finalist for Excellence in Community Impact (Organization) 

Over the past 20 years, Grand Canyon Youth (GCY) has connected thousands of young people (ages 10-19) to the rivers and canyons of the Southwest. Past participants are now scientists, teachers and GCY guides, sharing their love of the natural world with the next generation.

The varied trips for youth on the Colorado, San Juan, and Verde Rivers aim to nurture young scientists and stewards of the natural environment. Grand Canyon river programs are run in conjunction with the Grand Canyon Monitoring & Research Center – a branch of the United States Geological Survey – where students can assist scientists in collecting data for active research projects, while learning about the ecology, human impacts, and management of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon. Students are encouraged to create their own expedition journal and participate in discussion circles as they learn from the place, the guides, and each other.

Grand Canyon Youth is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization that relies on individual donations and grants to ensure that programs remain affordable and accessible to youth from diverse backgrounds. GCY works to ensure that cost is never a barrier to participation. Through organizational fundraising, GCY reduces the cost of river programs by up to 50% for participants. Additional financial aid is also available to participants with demonstrated financial need. In 2018, 613 young people in 5th – 12th grade from 11 Flagstaff schools participated in GCY programs, and GCY provided over $25,000 in financial aid to 137 Flagstaff participants. GCY partners with Flagstaff schools and FUSD to implement place-based curriculum both on the river and in the classroom.

Participant testimonials: 

“After being on the trip, I have realized how people are affecting our earth and not taking care of it as much as we need to.  I’ve also realized that just enjoying the beauty of the outdoors is great and that I would like to help in other ways to save our planet.”

“I went on my first river trip three years ago with Grand Canyon Youth, and ever since then I have wanted to pursue a future that involves the outdoors. I will never forget the beautiful canyon walls filled with color, the cold dark green water, and the wildlife that surrounds it.”