The Outward Bound California Scholarship Program is guided by a single principle:
Every person should have the opportunity to experience outdoor adventure, develop character and compassion, and learn leadership skills that last a lifetime.
A diverse student group on an Outward Bound course (including racial, religious, economic, gender identity, and ability) encourages learning across differences, compassion for the strengths and challenges of their crewmates, and space to practice inclusion and leadership. Every unique life experience brings richness to the course where we live by the motto, “You are needed” and that includes all students.
We bring together this diversity of students by reaching far and wide in our marketing and recruitment, lending gear to those who need it, and offering a wide variety of program lengths and difficulty levels. Yet still, the biggest barrier for students is almost always financial. We seek to lower or remove the high costs of these experiences through partnerships with public schools and youth-serving nonprofits, tuition reduction on individual courses, and other programs like the Youth Leadership Corps and our other full summer scholarships. You can read more about these opportunities and how to apply below.
Thanks to generous donations from alumni, parents, corporations, foundations, and other community members, 2/3 of our students receive scholarships each year and are, therefore, able to attend. If you are interested in learning more about opportunities to fund equitable access to Outward Bound experiences, please contact Matt Patchell, Development Officer at (415) 316-0563 or complete the contact us form.
Through the generous efforts of staff and donors, our Pinnacle LGBTQ+ course is totally free, including a travel stipend, boots and socks to keep, and gear to borrow while on course.
This course is offered to LGBTQ+ youth seeking an affinity space. The course is staffed with instructors who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. Staff strive to create a safe space for teens who have experienced being marginalized due to their identity, and/or are exploring their sexual and/or gender identity to build community and cultivate self-efficacy.
Learn more about the LGBTQ+ Scholarship Program here.
The Pinnacle Scholarship Program provides full-tuition scholarships to attend an Outward Bound wilderness course. This program is open to any motivated youth from under-resourced communities.
Applications are open NOW on a rolling basis, although priority is given to current partners of Outward Bound California.
Learn more about the Pinnacle Scholarship Program here.
High Sierra Backpacking & Rock Climbing for POC Young Adults
Claim your space in the outdoors!
This is a traditional, classic Outward Bound course, specially designed as an affinity space for People of Color (POC) who are looking for community and connection in outdoor spaces This course is staffed with instructors who reflect the identities of the students.
In an effort to reduce barriers of access, this course has a sliding scale tuition model. If paying the full tuition amount is not within your means, we have funding to support you.
The Youth Leadership Corps is a merit-based scholarship program that focuses on leadership, commitment to service, and character development. The one year program starts with a two week High Sierra expedition that includes rock climbing, backpacking, camping, navigation, and a unique solo experience.
YLC is open to Bay Area high school students (rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors) who want to continue to develop their leadership skills and gain service experience.
All students who apply and are accepted into the program receive a full scholarship to participate.
Individual Students Awards – Open Enrollment Scholarship
A typical Open Enrollment Scholarship ranges from 10-30% off the tuition cost, and are based on an individual student’s need. This scholarship is offered on a first-come, first-served basis beginning in the fall and continuing as long as we have funds available.
Enroll on an Outward Bound California Course and answer “yes” to the question “Do you want to be considered for financial aid?” in the payment section of the online enrollment form.
Submit a $500 Deposit. This deposit is fully refundable in the event you do not qualify for the scholarship and need to withdraw your enrollment.
You will receive a Welcome Email from your course advisor that has a link to your Applicant Portal. Complete the Open Enrollment Scholarship Application by the due date, along with your other application materials. A statement of need and financial documentation, such as 1040 tax forms, will be requested.
If you are cleared to attend the course, we will review your scholarship application and send an offer letter. If the offer is not sufficient to meet your needs, we will refund the full $500 deposit.
If you cancel before an offer is made, or if you are unresponsive to communication from your course advisor, you will forfeit the $150 enrollment fee.
To inquire about tuition reduction, please call 415-933-6222 or email: [email protected]
We offer scholarship to schools and non-profit groups that work with low-income populations looking to expand experiential education. Please review the Group Program Page for more information.
For more information or to inquire about school or group programs, please contact Eli Fox at [email protected]
AmeriCorps Education Awards
Participants can use their AmeriCorps Education Award to attend an Outward Bound course. Through registration at Western State Colorado University, participants will also receive education credit.
Through partnership with Western Colorado University, Outward Bound participants can utilize a 529 College Saving Plan to fund their course and gain college credit. Please call the Student Services Department of Outward Bound California (415.933.6222) to find out how to use your saving plan. Enrolled applicants will be sent more information in your Applicant Portal. You can find out more on WCU's Outdoor & Experiential Education Program Partnerships website.
Please note, if you enroll within 30 days of course start it is unlikely Western will be able to process your registration in time.
Outward Bound helps thousands of returning service members and recent veterans* readjust to life at home through powerful wilderness courses that draw on the healing benefit of teamwork and challenge through use of the natural world. These courses are fully funded, including travel within the contiguous United States.