Grand Canyon Youth 2019 Annual Report Header with Logo

2019 Year in Review… and What’s Next for Grand Canyon Youth

“I learned that I am brave and I can get through new challenges.”
-Mia, 2019 Youth Participant

Dear Grand Canyon Youth Supporters,

Grand Canyon Youth Kids in the kitchen 2019 Year in Review

Preparing meals for the group is one of many skills learned on GCY expeditions. Photo by Amy Martin.

I am pleased to share this digital annual report with you to celebrate all that we accomplished together in 2019. None of this would have been possible without your help – thank you! We are honored to have you as a part of the GCY family. 


As you will read throughout this report, 2019 was a turning point for Grand Canyon Youth in many ways. In addition to serving 1,093 youth through our expeditions on the Colorado, San Juan, and Verde Rivers, we focused on creating long-term stability for the organization as well as expanding our ways of thinking about who we serve and how. For example, in 2019 we:


    • Committed to serving increasingly diverse youth and expanding our work around justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in our organization through the creation of the JEDI Council;
    • Began providing Mental Health First Aid training to all GCY guides with support from the Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Institute; 
    • Expanded the Healing Lands Project to include three program partners and served 27 youth on three expeditions; 
    • Launched and completed the Downstream 2020 campaign to purchase the GCY Headquarters. 
    • And much more!

As 2020 began, we were poised to launch our biggest season yet, serving more youth than ever. Of course, that all changed abruptly when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of our 2020 season.


While nothing can replace the magic of a GCY expedition, we have developed creative ways to stay connected to our youth participants. However, the pandemic has resulted in the loss of approximately half of GCY’s income for the year. And while we are confident that Grand Canyon Youth will weather this storm, we do need your help to do it. 

“Nature heals us… it has always been here for us, so we have to be here for nature now, when the world needs humans the most.”
-Nathanem, 2019 Youth Participant

If you believe, as I do, that once this crisis has subsided, young people will need powerful connections to place and community more than ever, please make a donation to Grand Canyon Youth today. 


Thank you for your ongoing support of Grand Canyon Youth. With your help, we will continue to make the transformative power of the river accessible to young people for generations to come!


With gratitude,

Emma Wharton Grand Canyon Youth Executive Director Signature



Emma Wharton
Executive Director

“Sleeping under the stars, preparing their own food, rafting the rapids – all helped my child get a better sense of this beautiful world.”
-Christine, 2019 Parent

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