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Nurturing the Next Generation of Empowered and Self Confident Girls Through Outdoor Adventure

Mission + Vision

Through an adventure-driven, community-based funding model, we support programs that expand outdoor and wilderness opportunities for pre-teen and teenage women. For a broader community of women seeking to further their outdoor passions, we are creating a platform to share information, resources, and stories that inspire adventure.

We envision a dynamic community that is mobilizing to expand outdoor opportunities for young women, and a rising generation of empowered and self-confident girls who are personally connected to the landscapes we live in.

Who We Support

We provide grants to local partners based on the quality of their programs, their commitment to expanding access for underprivileged young women, and their potential for even greater impact with the help of increased resources. These community change-makers are equipping and empowering young women to embark on an array of human-powered adventures — from backpacking and mountain biking to mountaineering and more — in their backyards and beyond.

The Story

We met in Boulder, Colorado, but our friendship has taken us on adventures near and far: the deserts of the American Southwest, the coast of North Africa, the mountains of the Continental Divide, and many places in between. While our jobs have taken us to different home-bases, we’ve maintained an enduring bond over a shared preoccupation with exploring all mountains, everywhere.

As we’ve cooked up an ever expanding Girls’ Trip Bucket List, one adventure has always been near the top: hiking the John Muir Trail. In 2015 we decided it was finally time to go for it; we would thru-hike the JMT. The planning and gear list commenced.

Pouring over topo maps of the JMT during a trip to Utah, we realized we could make this hike in the Sierra even more fulfilling. We could use it as an opportunity to share our passion with a wider community, and help ignite an ardor for the outdoors in the next generation of young women. With that, The Cairn Project was born.

The goal underpinning The Cairn Project is to help foster our future leaders and stewards. We both know from personal experience that outdoor exploration can be truly transformative for young women - seeding self-esteem, inner strength, and the tenacity to embrace the unexpected.

We hope you'll join us in building The Cairn Project's community.

Sarah signature

Sarah Castle
Co-founder

Alison signature

Alison Wright
Co-founder

Sarah Castle

Sarah Castle grew up in a small mountain town west of Denver, Colorado, and has spent most of her adult life a stone’s throw away from the Rocky Mountains. Though she held a fascination for wild places at a young age, it wasn’t until late high school that she became captivated by the high elevations and unbeaten paths of the mountains in her backyard. Merging her love for both exploration and grit, Sarah pursued a career in soil science, studying the effects of global change and land use on natural and managed ecosystems. Currently living in Saint Paul, Minnesota, you’re likely to find her either trail running or logging one of many 70mi. weekend bike rides. Sarah holds B.A. and M.S. degrees from the University of Colorado and a Ph.D. from the University of Montana.

Alison Wright

Alison Wright was born and raised in San Francisco, California, but has been fortunate enough to call Colorado, Washington, Mexico City, Costa Rica, and Baja California Sur home. She cultivated a passion for outdoor pursuits at an early age, with some of her fondest memories from hiking and backpacking trips she took with her dad in more than 20 national parks. Alison has spent her career in the public interest sector, much of it in philanthropic grantmaking. She consults with organizations defending natural resource rights, protecting environmental activists, and amplifying community and indigenous voices for global environmental justice. A lifelong baseball fan, you'll often find her sporting her SF Giants cap out on the trail. Alison holds a J.D. from Seattle University School of Law and a B.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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