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Each month we spotlight a local nonprofit that's in need of help. It's a way to connect our listeners with charities that make an impact.

Get Involved Spotlight: Explore Austin

From Explore Austin, this month's Get Involved spotlight non-profit:

Established in 2006, Explore Austin helps change the lives of underserved youth through leadership, mentoring, and adventure.


Founded in 2006, Explore Austin combines the benefits of mentoring and outdoor adventure in a six-year program for 6th through 12th grade underserved youth. 

Focusing on team building and leadership training by utilizing its unique ACES framework, Explore Austin helps “Explorers” (we refer to participants as Explorers) increase self-confidence, build character, and develop a sense of responsibility for themselves and those around them. With nine Saturday Challenges and a week-long Summer Wilderness Trip to remote destinations each year, Explore Austin seeks and attracts motivated students who desire to learn how to become leaders, experience new places, make lasting friendships, and seek challenges. Our hands-on approach and belief in learning by doing means our Explorers leave the program more confident, more experienced, and ready to lead.



The ACES framework is a list of questions an Explorer can reference when making decisions as a leader. Its purpose is to serve as a guideline and checklist by both Explorers and Mentors when evaluating the progress of an Explorer’s journey to becoming a leader. The term ACES is an acronym for Action-Oriented, Courageous, Excellent Teammate, and Strong Communicator.



Explore Austin accepts 6th grade boys and girls from KIPP Austin Public Schools, and makes a six-year commitment to helping them develop the skills, tools, and habits they will need to become effective leaders. Through a combination of mentoring and outdoor adventure, Explore Austin has created a six-year curriculum around its ACES framework. Our curriculum is built upon the idea that by taking its committed Explorers, placing them in a unique environment, and giving them problem-solving tasks and challenges, Explorers will develop the character traits necessary to be effective leaders.


We partner with four local schools which serve predominately underserved areas of Austin where Mentors and “Explorers” alike embark on a six-year journey and commitment together. Youth enter our Program as 6th graders and remain until graduation. Once in our Program “Explorers” become a part of a team of 20: five Mentors and 15 Explorers.


·           Supported 14 Summer Wilderness Trips and 121 Saturday Challenges

·           Celebrated as 100% of our 13 graduates received acceptance into college

·           Recruited 20 new Mentors and 60 new Explorers for 2016

·           Maintained an 89% Mentor Retention Rate

·           Maintained an 92% Explorer Retention Rate



Since 2006, we have:

·           Embarked on more than 70 weeks of backcountry adventure

·           Experienced over 600 local Saturday Challenges

·           Benefitted from over 233,000 hours of Mentoring

·           Been recognized for our efforts by the Children in Nature Collaboration of Austin, the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Greenlights for Nonprofit Success, and Philanthropitch


Compared to the National Average, Explorers are:

·           63% less likely to have problems at school

·           61% less likely to use alcohol

·           48% less likely to engage in sexual activity

·           90% more likely to succeed in school

·           75% more likely to resist danger

·           43% more likely to maintain physical health


Click here for more information on Explore Austin.

Mike is the production director at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.
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