AAI Scholarships

Scholarships, Tuition Assistance, GI Bill® and AmeriCorps Benefits

The American Alpine Institute is proud to offer a variety of scholarships and other assistance opportunities to help people in various stages of their development as climbers, skiers, and outdoorspeople.

As leaders in the outdoor industry, we understand that accessing the mountains and mountain education is a challenge for many people. This is especially true for those who have not grown up in a mountain-centered community or who have not had a positive introduction to the culture of mountain recreation. Research by Richard Louv, described in his book Last Child in the Woods, suggests that an ever narrowing segment of American society is initiated into the outdoor culture by family, friends, and civic organizations, and this carries negative implications for both diversity in outdoor recreation and support for the preservation of wild spaces.

The Spirit of Alpinism Scholarships

“The Spirit of Alpinism,” a longtime motto of the Institute, refers to the humanistic ethos that grounds and inspires our work in the mountains, of which the values of diversity and broad inclusiveness form an integral part.

Since its founding in 1975, the American Alpine Institute has always believed in the importance of equality and inclusion, and has strived to build the outdoor community by bringing the benefits of mountain recreation to everyone who wanted to participate.  Recent years, however, have brought an increasing awareness that just extending an open invitation, alone, is not enough to reshape the outdoor recreation community into a more diverse and inclusive environment. 

For this reason, we have resolved to award several annual scholarships to people drawn from groups that historically have been excluded, marginalized or underrepresented in mainstream outdoor recreation.   

The Climbing for Change Alpine Scholarship

In partnership with Kai Lightner and the Climbing For Change Organization

The Climbing for Change Alpine Scholarship is awarded annually to Black, Indigenous and/or People of Color (BIPOC) who are seeking to advance their technical backcountry and mountain leadership skills. Click here for more information about this scholarship.

Liz Daley Memorial Scholarships

Guide Like Liz Scholarship

The Guide Like Liz Scholarship is intended to assist climbers, skiers, and boarders who identify as women or other marginalized genders and want to enter the guiding industry.  The scholarship is designed to help women and gender diverse climbers advance their skills from the beginner or intermediate level to a level of proficiency and experience at which they could qualify for guide training programs either at the Institute or with the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA).  For more information, click here.

Liz Rocks Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship 

The Liz Rocks Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship "seeks to support diversity in the mountains while helping one at-risk youth reach new peaks in their life." – Liz Rocks Foundation.

This scholarship is administered by the Liz Rocks Foundation and is awarded to one student per year to attend the American Alpine Institute Leaders of Tomorrow ProgramFor more information, click here.

Other Scholarships and Tuition Assistance 

Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE) Scholarship

AAI's AORE Scholarship is administered by AORE and is awarded to AORE members at the yearly conference.  For more information, click here.

Tuition Vouchers, Discounts, and Pro-Deals

AAI supports a variety of causes and events each year by donating limited tuition vouchers for auction or raffle giveaway.  In the past, the events have included film festivals such as Five Point and Banff Mountain Film Festival, benefits for the Boys' and Girls' Club of Skagit County and Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC), and many others.  Discounts are available on a limited number of programs for members of the American Alpine Club.  In addition, AAI offers limited pro-deals to certain people who have made significant commitments to the outdoor retail and recreation industries.  For more information, please call our office.

Veterans' Benefits

The American Alpine Institute now accepts the GI Bill® for approved programs in the Mountaineering Instructor Professional Training Program (MIPTP).  These courses are stand-alone vocational courses that can be taken individually or as part of the complete MIPTP course of vocational training.  For more information about MIPTP and Veterans Benefits, please contact the School Certifying Officer, Erin-Leigh Hardy, at [email protected], or call our office.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill. 

AmeriCorps School of National Service Badge

AmeriCorps Benefits – Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards

As of February, 2024, American Alpine Institute is approved as a School of National Service for  programs in the Mountaineering Instructor Professional Training Program (MIPTP).  For more information about this program, please contact Erin-Leigh Hardy at [email protected], or call our office.

American Alpine Institute Internal Guide Training

AAI's internal guide training program, which is offered to selected candidates for guide positions each year depending on the Institute's employment needs, is a three-week intensive professional course and practicum designed for seasoned all-around climbers and alpinists.  Unique in the industry, the course is intended to enable talented climbers with a high level of technical proficiency and proven leadership ability to gain the additional professional skills to begin working as guides on AAI's programs.  The course is offered free of charge to the selected candidates with an offer of work contingent on successful completion.  For more information, see our employment opportunities page.

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