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State Parks, OCFS Partner with the North Face to Connect 150 Foster Families with the Outdoors

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks), Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and The North Face® teamed up to give 150 New York foster families an Empire Passport for unlimited entry to New York’’s state parks and recreational facilities for the 2015-16 season. The initiative, supported by a $5,000 grant from The North Face’s Explore Fund Program, enabled the families to enjoy New York’s 180 state parks and 55 forest preserves free of charge.

“What better way to thank foster families for all they do than by providing the opportunity to connect children to the healthy advantages and recreational activities available throughout the New York State Park system?” said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. “Thanks to a wonderful partnership with OCFS and North Face, 150 New York families were able to enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, boating, exploring and more from the shores of Long Island to the mighty Niagara Falls, all while making memories of family bonding and outdoor adventure that will last a lifetime.”

OCFS Acting Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, “These foster families have generously opened their heart and their home to children in need. We’re pleased to show our gratitude by making it a little easier for them to enjoy all that New York’s beautiful state parks and preserves have to offer.”

Nationwide, The North Face awarded 47 grants to programs that will engage more than 30,000 people in outdoor recreation this year. The company selected projects that use outdoor exploration as a catalyst for personal growth; provide experiences that nurture an appreciation of the outdoors; or encourage participants to try new outdoor activities.

The Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) assisted State Parks with administering The North Face grant. OCFS and local social services districts joined with State Parks in administering the program.

“It is exciting to see the incredible organizations who are just as passionate about giving more kids the opportunity to experience the outdoors as we are,” said Ann Krcik, senior director of Outdoor Exploration at The North Face. “Together we are making an investment in the next generation of outdoor explorers who will grow to love and protect the wild places we all love to play.”

As part of its mission to start a global movement of Outdoor Exploration, The North Face introduced the Explore Fund in 2010 and the program has since provided more than $1.5 million in U.S. grants to more than 300 non-profit organizations committed to inspiring the next generation of outdoor explorers and conservationists. In 2013 and 2014, State Parks and OCFS partnered to provide New York State’s foster families with gift cards for a free two-night stay at any State Park campground as part of the “Explore Your Parks™” program sponsored by The North Face.

About New York State Parks

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 180 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 62 million people annually. A recent study found that New York State Parks generates $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and supports 20,000 jobs. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.

About the Office of Children and Family Services

The Office of Children and Family Services serves New York by promoting the safety, permanency and well-being of children, families and communities. For more information, visit, "like" the New York State Office of Children and Family Services Facebook page, or follow @NYSOCFS on Twitter.

About The North Face®

The North Face, a division of VF Outdoor, Inc., was founded in 1966. Headquartered in Alameda, California, the company offers the most technically advanced products in the market to accomplished climbers, mountaineers, snowsport athletes, endurance athletes, and explorers. The company’’s products are sold in specialty mountaineering, backpacking, running, and snowsport retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers and major outdoor specialty retail chains.