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First Descents

 3001 Brighton Boulevard, Suite 623
 Denver, CO 80216
[P] (303) 800-6821 x 301
[F] (866) 592-6911
www.firstdescents.org
[email protected]
Ryan O'Donoghue
Facebook Twitter
INCORPORATED: 2002
 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 81-0539964

LAST UPDATED: 02/27/2018
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No

Summary

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Mission StatementMORE »

First Descents provides life-changing outdoor adventures to young adults (ages 18-39) impacted by cancer.

Mission Statement

First Descents provides life-changing outdoor adventures to young adults (ages 18-39) impacted by cancer.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018
Projected Income $3,421,000.00
Projected Expense $3,109,100.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • 1. Week Long: FD1
  • 2. Local Adventure Communities: FD Tribs
  • 3. Medical Center Partnerships
  • 4. International Experiences: FDX

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Overview

Mission Statement

First Descents provides life-changing outdoor adventures to young adults (ages 18-39) impacted by cancer.

Background Statement

First Descents (FD) is a national 501c3 nonprofit organization that provides free life-changing outdoor adventure programs for young adults impacted by cancer. FD was founded in 2001 by professional kayaker and CNN Hero Award Winner, Brad Ludden. Through comprehensive destination, regional and local programming, First Descents primarily serves young adults living with and surviving cancer.

First Descents was early to recognize a gap in psychosocial support services and has developed programs designed to empower young adults with cancer through unforgettable outdoor adventures. What started in 2001 as a single week long kayaking program for 15 participants has grown to include more than 100 unique programs serving more than 1,100 young adults annually.

Acknowledging that hospitals were hard-pressed for age appropriate psychosocial supportive care opportunities for young adult patients, First Descents extended multi-day programs to local oncology clinics in 2012. Currently, FD runs programs in collaboration with 15 hospital partners and aims to provide regular multi-day experiences to the Nation’s top 25 oncology clinics by 2020.

Knowing that community building and frequent, regional programming are essential to promoting continued healing, First Descents launched the rollout of local adventure communities (affectionately named FD Tributaries) beginning in 2013. Now in 14 cities, FD’s local adventure communities provide quarterly (and often monthly) adventure experiences designed to empower, inspire, and connect young adults impacted by cancer.

First Descents has experienced 35% aggregate year-over-year growth since its inception. FD is planning 20% year-over-year growth through 2020, with a steadfast focus on building integrated programs in collaboration with hospitals and oncology clinics nationwide.

First Descents is currently headquartered in Denver, CO, with 18 full-time staff members, 35 seasonal contractors, over 300 volunteers, and a 2018 revenue goal of $3.4 million. In 2018, First Descents will provide an estimated 1,200 unique experiences to young adults with cancer across approximately 120 unique program offerings.


Impact Statement

First Descents (FD) celebrated a banner year of programs, fundraising, and organizational growth in 2017. Top accomplishments included:

1. Providing over 1,100 unique experiences to young adults impacted by cancer across 100 program offerings nationwide.

2. Expanding local adventure communities through increased single-day, multi-day, and medical center program offerings in 15 major US cities, and with 15 of the nation's top medical centers.

3. Following the organization's 2016 CNN Hero Award, FD was a featured CNN Hero Success Story follow up at this year's 2017 CNN Hero Awards. FD also received accolades from Outside Magazine's Top 100 Places to Work and ColoradoBiz's Top Nonprofit Association.

4. Publishing research in the 2017 Supportive Care in Cancer Journal; B. Zebeck, M. Kwak, & L. Sundstrom. June 12 2017. First Descents, an adventure program for young adults with cancer: who benefits?

5. Surpassing $3.5 million in revenue - a milestone for First Descents and a strong testament to the organization's mission.

 

Specific to 2018, projected outputs include:

1. Provide over 1,200 unique experiences across 100 program offerings nationwide.

2. Launch FD's Prescribe Adventure campaign to achieve a 25% increase in program inquiries and a database of more than 200 medical influencers.

3. Identify key leaders to participate in the First Descents Medical Outdoor Industry Council; a cross sector network of medical professionals, social workers, and patient-advocacy, and outdoor industry leaders committed to addressing disease-related trauma in young adults.

4. Scale program offerings within local adventure communities to meet demand from current FD alumni, participant prospects, and statewide demographics of young adults diagnosed with cancer.


Needs Statement

First Descents completed a comprehensive strategic planning effort designed to guide program development, sustainability, and scalability through 2020.

The objectives of Horizon 2020 include:

1. Expand programs to reach more young adults impacted by cancer. Through Horizon 2020, FD will provide 5,000 new participant experiences across 500 programs, representing 30% YoY growth and a total investment of $13 million.

2. Strengthen local adventure communities to drive recruitment and expand supportive peer relationships amongst program alumni and prospective participants.

3. Inspire solutions to the healthcare crisis through the confluence of outdoor adventure, skills development, and community creation.

4. Partner with key influencers (i.e pharmaceutical companies, medical centers, health care providers, industry professionals, and leading foundations) on innovative projects, events, and campaigns to support program and fundraising initiatives. Horizon 2020 includes an additional $1.75 million in new initiatives, including medical center partnerships and ongoing impact and evaluation.

5. Continue the improvement of research and evaluation of FD programs. First Descents remains committed to the efforts that complement our externally led independent research studies.


CEO Statement

"Serving as the Executive Director for First Descents (FD) has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.

Like so many others, the course of my life has been deeply affected by cancer. And despite the challenges of that experience, I am fortunate it has created an opportunity to contribute to such a meaningful cause. I am motivated to serve the greater well-being of young adults who face this disease, and I believe First Descents effectively addresses the unique and underserved challenges of this demographic unlike any other organization." - Ryan O'Donoghue, Executive Director of First Descents


Board Chair Statement

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Geographic Area Served

NATIONAL
GREATER BOSTON REGION, MA
First Descents offers week-long, multi-day, and single-day programs nationwide and has established local adventure communities in 14 major US cities. As one of First Descents' most vibrant local adventure communities, the Boston Tribe serves young adults within the city of Boston and the greater state of Massachusetts. FD aims to bring the healing power of adventure to as many young adults as possible, and encourages all young adults seeking support to join the local adventure community.

Organization Categories

  1. Diseases Disorders & Medical Disciplines - Cancer
  2. Health Care - Support NEC
  3. Recreation & Sports - Recreation & Sports NEC

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)

Yes

Programs

1. Week Long: FD1

The original First Descents experience. A multi-day adventure program centered around whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, ice climbing or surfing. Participants go beyond their limits, meet some of the most inspiring people and experience some of the most stunningly beautiful settings in the country.
Budget  $25,000.00
Category  Diseases, Disorders & Medical Disciplines, General/Other Cancer
Population Served Adults People/Families of People with Cancer
Program Short-Term Success  First Descents was early to recognize a gap in psychosocial support services and has developed programs designed to empower young adults with cancer through unforgettable outdoor adventures. What started in 2001 as a single week long kayaking program for 15 participants has grown to include more than 100 unique programs serving more than 1,100 young adults annually.
Program Long-Term Success 

Recognizing the need for externally led evaluation efforts, First Descents participated in a quantitative research study conducted by leading clinical psychologists in 2012. The purpose of the study was to understand and measure the psychological effects of the First Descents experience on its participants. The study tracked six metrics across a significant sample size of FD alumni, measuring: body image, self-compassion, self-esteem, depression, alienation, and isolation.

The research findings were recently published in the Journal for Psychosocial Oncology, underscoring the initial hypothesis and definitively validating the effectiveness of FD’s programs. The results complement countless testimonials received from participants since FD’s founding in 2001.

First Descents conducted a follow-up research effort led by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Curtis School for Social Work. The effort further assessed the long-term effects of the FD experience, and was recently published in Supportive Care in Cancer. FD continues to apply additional learnings from evidence-based research to better serve participants, while playing a leadership role in the broader young adult cancer and behavioral health movements.

Program Success Monitored By  First Descents is committed to the continual evaluation and improvement of its programs. Internally, FD has established an alumni advisory board to complement our executive and medical boards. Among other things, the alumni advisory board, having a unique perspective as past participants, is tasked with evaluating First Descents vision and program delivery as we grow. Additionally, the programs team employs pre- and post-program surveys to evaluate effectiveness.
Examples of Program Success 

The following testimonials allude to the self-efficacy restored by way of First Descents programs:

"I am a single mom of 3 young kids, and since I was diagnosed 2 years ago I have never done anything like this for myself. This week, after 2 years of being very very angry at cancer for driving my marriage apart and completely stressing me and my family out, I have chosen to forgive cancer. This is the most amazing gift I could have ever been given, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I know that I will return to my kids a new woman full of hope, optimism, happiness, and love. Thank you, thank you." - FD Alum

"FD and whitewater kayaking gave me my life back. My no longer athletic body felt strong again. I wasn't alone in my diagnosis anymore. I realized that when I pushed myself out of my comfort zone that beautiful things happened. I found my cancer family. I found home." - FD Alum


2. Local Adventure Communities: FD Tribs

Local Adventure Communities are designed to support and connect First Descents' growing alumni base and all young adults impacted by cancer, sustaining the spirit of Out Living It throughout the year. Currently, there are 15 FD-supported Trib locations across the county.
Budget  $10,000.00
Category  Diseases, Disorders & Medical Disciplines, General/Other Cancer
Population Served Adults People/Families of People with Cancer
Program Short-Term Success 
Local Adventure Communities intend to connect First Descents' growing alumni base and young adults impacted by cancer in the places they call home. Knowing that community building and frequent, regional programming are essential to promoting continued healing, First Descents launched the rollout of local adventure communities (affectionately named FD Tributaries) beginning in 2013. Now in 15 cities, FD's local adventure communities provide quarterly (and often monthly) adventure experiences designed to empower, inspire, and connect young adults impacted by cancer.
Program Long-Term Success 

First Descents' program model is designed to promote long term health without a continued dependence on its programs. In addition to the 1,200 unique experiences provided through FD-facilitated programs, First Descents alumni reported more than 7,500 self-facilitated interactions with their young adult peers in 2017 alone. Most of these interactions come in the form of single-day meet ups to practice adventure sports. Knowing this strengthens FD's resolve to invest in local adventure communities to drive healthy outcomes and interaction that are sustainable long-term. 

Program Success Monitored By  First Descents is committed to the continual evaluation and improvement of its programs. Internally, FD has established an alumni advisory board to complement our executive and medical boards. Among other things, the alumni advisory board, having a unique perspective as past participants, is tasked with evaluating First Descents vision and program delivery as the organization grows. Additionally, the programs team employs pre- and post-program surveys to evaluate effectiveness.
Examples of Program Success 
The following testimonials allude to the self-efficacy restored by way of First Descents programs and Local Adventure Communities:
 
"This whole experience has shown me that this busted up body has betrayed me over and over is still incredibly capable of doing things I never thought possible. Kayaking and Out Living It has seriously boosted my self confidence and has instilled in me the boldness to try things I thought were so far from my grasp" - "Morning" - FD Alum 

3. Medical Center Partnerships

In an effort to reach even more young adult survivors and fighters, First Descents launched its Medical Center Partnerships. Medical Center Partnerships are weekend programs, set near urban areas and hosted in collaboration with medical centers across the county. This is the perfect adventure for those who want to experience FD but are unable to attend an FD1 program due to health, treatment schedules, or family and work obligations. 
Budget  $10,000.00
Category  Diseases, Disorders & Medical Disciplines, General/Other Cancer
Population Served Adults People/Families of People with Cancer
Program Short-Term Success 
Acknowledging that hospitals were hard-pressed for suitable psychosocial and red-therapy opportunities for their growing adolescent and young adult (AYA) patient populations, First Descents extended multi-day programs to local oncology clinics in 2012. Currently, FD runs programs in collaboration with 15 hospital partners and aims to provide regular multi-day experiences to the Nation's top 25 oncology clinics by 2020. 
 
Program Long-Term Success 

In 2018 First Descents seeks to build robust partnerships with key influencers within the health care and outdoor industries by establishing the First Descents Medical Outdoor Industry Council. The First Descents Medical Outdoor Industry Council is a cross-sector network of medical professionals, social workers, and patient-advocacy, and outdoor industry leaders committed to addressing disease-related trauma in young adults. The FDM&CO works collaborative to: inspire disruptive solutions to the medical and environmental crises of our time.

1. Guide the development of regional First Descents program offerings through integrated partnerships with hospitals, community clinics, nonprofits, and patient advocacy groups, and outdoor industry thought leaders.
2. Understand the specific needs of hospitals and community health clinics and the barriers surrounding AYA supportive care.
 
3. Coordinate uniform and cross-cutting research and evaluation metrics designed to measure programmatic effectiveness and long-term psychosocial health.
 
4. Alleviate the economic burden associated with care plan non-adherence, prescription drug dependence, and failure to thrive. 
 
Hospital-based psychosocial supportive care for AYAs is virtually nonexistent. While significant investments have been made to develop treatment centers and intentional programming for pediatrics, there is a glaring service gap facing adolescents and young adults. Despite the prevalence of AYA cancer (8x the diagnosis rate of pediatrics) hospitals are hard-pressed for resources and lack the experience required to deliver developmentally appropriate programs for their growing young adult populations. In recent years, First Descents has provided integrated programs in partnership with medical clinics in an effort to address the alarming gap in psychosocial supportive care. Through the development of the Medical Industry Council and custom-built regional programs, First Descents provides an integrated solution designed to augment the work of oncology and social workers to drive important health-related outcomes for AYA patients populations.
Program Success Monitored By 

First Descents is committed to the continual evaluation and improvement of its programs. Internally, FD has established an alumni advisory board to complement our executive and medical boards. Among other things, the alumni advisory board, having a unique perspective as past participants, is tasked with evaluating First Descents vision and program delivery as we grow. Additionally, the programs team employs pre-and post-program surveys to evaluate effectives. 

In November of 2017, First Descents hired a dedicated Program Partnerships and Recruitment Manager to oversee the development and recruitment of FD's Medical Center partnerships. A core responsibility of the Program Partnerships and Recruitment Manager is to work in concert with key medical center personnel (i.e. Directors of Programs, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Nurses, Physicians) to determine the appropriate scope of program activities, and assure that programs are executed under the medical center's required protocols. 
Examples of Program Success 
Boston is home to one of First Descents' most vibrant local adventure communities with hundreds of program alumni. In order to best serve these alumni and future participants, First Descents has built integrated partnerships with Dana Farber, Mass General, and other marquis hospitals and community clinics throughout the region. Program success will be met with the implementation of more medical center integrated programs within Boston, increased participant inquiries about First Descents programs, and continued growth and engagement of Boston's local adventure community.  

4. International Experiences: FDX

The ultimate adventure experience. FDX is the ticket to pursuing life-long adventure and continuing to live the spirit of FD. First Descents works with our partnering outfitters to reserve outdoor expeditions all over the world. 
Budget  --
Category  Diseases, Disorders & Medical Disciplines, General/Other Cancer
Population Served Adults People/Families of People with Cancer
Program Short-Term Success 
In 2017, First Descents offered four International FDX programs for FD alumni. These destination programs were executed in Bali, Guatemala, Italy, and Mexico, and served 44 First Descents participants. 
 
In 2018, First Descents will offer international programs in New Zealand and Italy, which will serve approximately 50 FD participants.
Program Long-Term Success  First Descents is committed to continuing the success of the FDX programs. Not only do these programs provide FD alumni with a unique, cultural, outdoor experience, they reinforce the supportive peer communities that are built through First Descents. Most importantly, FDX programs aim to inspire continued engagement in outdoor adventure and community creation. It is First Descents' hope that all program participants leave an FD program with a drive and desire to initiate their own Out Living It experiences. 
Program Success Monitored By 
First Descents is committed to the continual evaluation and improvement of its programs. Internally, FD has established an alumni advisory board to complement our executive and medical boards. Among other things, the alumni advisory board, having a unique perspective as past participants, is tasked with evaluating First Descents vision and program delivery as we grow. Additionally, the programs team employs pre- and post-program surveys to evaluate effectiveness.
 
 
Examples of Program Success 
 
The following testimonial is a reflection of the 2017 FDX program: 
 
"We began the first few days of our FDX adventure in the bustling, culturally rich, colonial town of Antigua, Guatemala. In no time our FD Family was embracing the Guatemalan way of life. We spent our days exploring the local markets, practicing our Spanish, interacting with locals, and enjoying the fresh fruits, chocolates, and coffee that Antigua is known for.
 
The homestay experience was definitely one of the biggest highlights of this FDX Guatemala adventure. It was an amazing way for FD Alum to push their comfort zones in a whole new way, while simultaneously getting immersed in Guatemalan culture and livelihood. 
 
When we weren't interacting with our new host families and friends in San Juan. We spent three full days working hard in the small town of San Pablo, rebuilding an adobe home for a widowed mother and her four children. As a team, we worked together to lay a new foundation for the home, which included a new cement floor, steel roof, and a redesigned kitchen! The family was truly moved by this and it felt great to leave a positive impact on the local community. 
 
Trying to capture the essence of Guatemala with words is impossible. Reliving our days traveling through this beautiful place truly brings a smile to my face. The magical landscape and the people so rooted and in-tune with their indigenous heritage and tradition, are what make Guatemala one of the most genuine places left in the Americas. So thankful for this opportunity to Out Live It with this FD Tribe!" 

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Management


CEO/Executive Director Mr. Ryan O'Donoghue
CEO Term Start Dec 2013
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience
Ryan has a unique blend of for-profit, and non-profit and direct experience with the young adult cancer community. After losing his brother, Colin, to cancer as a young adult, Ryan founded Rise Above It (RAI), an organization deeply committed to advancing the field of adolescent and young adult oncology (AYAO). He was originally introduced to First Descents through his work at RAI. Rain Served on LIVESTRONG's Grant Review Committees and as a member of the Young Adult Alliance Oversight Committee prior to joining the Foundation's full time staff in 2011. During his tenure at LIVESTRONG, Ryan supported individual and major gifts, foundation grants, corporate engagement, and also managed the Young Leaders Cancer Council (YLCC). 
 
Prior to joining LIVESTRONG, Ryan worked at Accenture's  Strategy Practice where he managed Fortune 500 client accounts across several industries. Ryan holds B.S.B.A in Technology Management & Finance from Georgetown University, where he was captain of the football team and a Division I All American in 2000. Ryan joined First Descents as Executive Director in December, 2013. 
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
Alan Goldberg 2001 --
Brad Ludden -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Julie Kinamore Director of Programs --
Brad Ludden Founder --
Adam Schuster Director of Finance and Operations --
Ray Shedd Director of Development and Marketing --

Awards

Award Awarding Organization Year
ColoradoBiz 30th Anniversary Top Company Awards - Top Nonprofit ColoradoBiz 2017
Seal of Transparency - Guide Star Platinum Award Guide Star 2017
Top 100 Beset Places to Work Outside Magazine 2017
2016 CNN Hero Award CNN Heroes 2016

Affiliations

Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --

Collaborations

--

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

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Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 18
Number of Part Time Staff 0
Number of Volunteers 300
Number of Contract Staff 35
Staff Retention Rate % --

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 18
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 8
Male: 10
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Management Succession Plan No
Business Continuity of Operations Plan --
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration Yes

Risk Management Provisions

--

Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Bi-Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Bi-Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Bi-Annually

Governance


Board Chair Mr. Brent Goldstein
Board Chair Company Affiliation Avanti Capial LLC
Board Chair Term Jan 2001 -
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Joel Appel Brainetics Voting
Josh Behr Treasurer Voting
Alix Berglund Berglund Architects Voting
Kip Cross Kite Pharma Voting
Tanum Davis Bohen The Bohen Group Voting
Brent Goldstein Avanti Capital LLC Voting
Dr. Brandon Hayes-Lattin Oregon Health & Science University Voting
Eva Ho Fika Ventures Voting
Michael Kantor InfoSpace Voting
Debbie King Ford Shaw Regional Cancer Center Voting
Brad Ludden First Descents Founder Voting
Brad Reiss Ark Real Estate Partners Voting
Jeremy Shevlin Crestone Capital Voting
Larry Smith Emergency Physician, Washington State Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 12
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 4
Male: 10
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits --
Board Meeting Attendance % --
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Under Development
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions --
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

    --

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

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Financials


Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018
Projected Income $3,421,000.00
Projected Expense $3,109,100.00
Form 990s

2016 Form 990

2015 Form 990

2014 Form 990

Audit Documents

2016 Review

2014 Review

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $2,435,282 $3,096,389 $2,576,803
Total Expenses $2,708,046 $2,903,127 $2,148,256

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- $0 $0
Individual Contributions $1,200,749 $2,790,652 $2,294,295
Indirect Public Support -- $0 $0
Earned Revenue $832,517 $0 $7,135
Investment Income, Net of Losses $1,141 $278 $0
Membership Dues -- $0 $0
Special Events $400,875 $305,459 $275,373
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- $0 $0

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $1,938,808 $2,087,742 $1,667,051
Administration Expense $137,057 $497,921 $207,066
Fundraising Expense $632,181 $317,464 $274,139
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 0.90 1.07 1.20
Program Expense/Total Expenses 72% 72% 78%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 39% 10% 11%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $1,764,806 $2,056,211 $1,373,518
Current Assets $1,742,199 $2,035,964 $1,351,875
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $55,405 $594,046 $104,615
Total Net Assets $1,709,401 $1,462,165 $1,268,903

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy --
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 31.44 3.43 12.92

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above is per the organization's IRS Form 990s. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available. Please note, per the organization, independently reviewed financials are prepared every other year. In Colorado, where this organization's headquarters is located, there is no state audit filing requirement (Rev. Stat. § 6-16-104), per the National Council of Nonprofits.

Documents


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.

Impact

The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.


1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

First Descents addresses what the National Cancer Institute identifies as a major determinant of long term survivor heath: ongoing psychosocial supportive care.

 
The psychosocial implications of disease-related trauma undermine survivors' abilities to thrive and lead healthy and productive lives. Young adults coping with cancer face significant health and limitations that negatively impact long-term survivorship. The disruptive nature of a cancer experience during such formative years often results in episodes of depression, anxiety, and isolation. Further, young adults experience an increased risk of prescription drug dependence, substance abuse and suicide. 
 
In addition to psychosocial implications, YA cancer survivorship has been shown to be associated with substantial medical expenditures and lost productivity - including employment disability, fewer hours worked, and more missed workdays - among other populations of cancer survivors. Unlike healthy peers who have worked without interruption, these survivors must later contend with gaps on their resumes when applying for jobs. These realities compound feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and isolation.
 
First Descents delivers a program continuum designed to drive resilience, self-efficacy, and restored confidence. Equally important, FD programs instill and enable lasting healthy practices including regular outdoor activity, nutrition education, social connection, and mindfulness. Of note, First Descents' program model is designed to promote long term health without a continued dependence on its programs. In addition to the 1,200 unique experiences provided through FD-facilitated programs, First Descents alumni reported more that 7,500 self-facilitated interactions with their young adult peers in 2017 alone. Most of these interactions come in the form of single-day meet ups to practice adventure sports. Knowing this strengthens FD's resolve to invest in local adventure communities to drive healthy outcomes and interactions that are sustainable long-term.

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

With guidance of Slalom Consulting, First Descents recently completed a comprehensive strategic planning effort designed to guide program development, sustainability, and scalability through 2020. Horizon 2020 provides an actionable roadmap to address AYA disease-related trauma at scale and accelerate First Descents' stature as the global leader in adventure-based healing. 

The objectives of Horizon 2020 include: 
 
1. Expand programs to reach more young adults impacted by cancer.
 
2. Strengthen local adventure communities (FD Tributaries) to nurture supportive peer relationships.
 
3. Inspire solutions to the healthcare crisis through the confluence of outdoor adventure, skills development, and community creation. 
 
Through Horizon 2020, First Descents will provide 5,000 new participant experiences across 500 programs, representing 20% YoY growth and a total investment of $13 million. Horizon 2020 also includes an additional $1.75 million in new initiatives, including medical center partnerships and ongoing impact evaluation. Through efficient and sustainable program delivery, FD will achieve this program growth with a projected 10% YoY budget increase.


3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

First Descents' Board of Directors and Leadership Team have put forth measurable programmatic and fundraising objectives designed to advance FD's Horizon 2020 strategic plan.
 
Specific to 2018, First Descents will offer over 110 programs, serving over 1,200 young adults impacted by cancer. FD will deliver programs that are unique, impactful, and emphasize core program elements of empowerment, growth through challenge, and peer support. Additionally, First Descents will continue to develop an approach to programs and communication that inspires ongoing involvement with FD, including independently coordinated/executed interactions among members of local communities.  
 
Specific to First Descents' 2018 local adventure communities, FD will offer over 70 local programs, providing over 700 experiences for young adults impacted by cancer. First Descents has established a fill rate goal of 99% across medical partnerships, local adventure community, multi-day, single-day, and monthly meet up offerings. A core programmatic goal for the year ahead is to look at major geographical regions across the country from a satellite view to better understand where First Descents can "connect the dots" and execute a more comprehensive approach at the community level: local adventure community programs, medical partnerships, and community support. The overarching objective is to see young adults with cancer move beyond participating at First Descents to become leaders of their community and embrace the Out Living It lifestyle and philosophy on their own.
 

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

The success of this project will be determined by an overall increase in participants, communities, and hospital partners served in addition to unique programs administered. First Descents will also measure a projected increase in frequency of interaction among participants in our local adventure communities. 

First Descents is committed to the continual evaluation and improvement of its programs. Internally, FD has established an alumni advisory board to complement our executive and medical boards. Among other things, the alumni advisory board, having a unique perspective as past participants, is tasked with evaluating First Descents vision and program delivery as the organization grows. Additionally, the programs team employs pre- and post-program surveys to evaluate effectiveness. 
 
Recognizing the need for externally led evaluation efforts, First Descents participated in quantitative research study conducted by leading clinical psychologists in 2012. The purpose of the study was to understand and measure the psychological effects of the First Descents experience on participants. The study tracked six metrics across a significant sample size of FD alumni, measuring: body image, self-compassion, self-esteem, depression, alienations, and isolation.  
 
The research findings were recently published in the Journal for Psychosocial Oncology, underscoring the initial hypothesis and definitely validating the effectiveness of FD's programs. The results complement countless testimonials received from participants since FD's founding in 2001. 
 
First Descents conducted a follow-up research effort led by researchers at the University of Michigan's Curtis School for Social Work. The effort further assessed the long-term effects of the FD experience, and was recently published in the Supportive Care in Cancer Journal. FD continues to apply additional learnings from evidence-based research to better serve participants, while playing a leadership role in the broader young adult cancer and behavioral health movements. 


5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

As previously reported, approximately 99% of First Descents participants indicate that they would recommend FD to a fellow survivor. This is a powerful testament to the beneficial relationships, skills, and empowerment acquired through a First Descents experience. While this is a highly encouraging metric of success, First Descents further regards it as one of the strongest indicators of a demand for services. According to the National Institute of Health, 70,000 adolescent young adults are diagnosed with cancer in the United States each year. Roughly 1,300 of those individuals will have the opportunity to experience a First Descents program. While proud of 2017 as a banner year for First Descents’ programs, there are many young adults who would benefit from adventure-based healing that have not yet been reached. These young adult survivors remain a focal point for scaling the organization’s growth and the inspiration behind bringing the healing power of adventure to as many young adult cancer survivors as possible.

Through participant feedback, First Descents recognizes the importance of strengthening alumni communities at the local level. Tributary programs, which now exist in 15 major US cities, serve as a way to continue to engage regional alumni, maintain supportive peer networks, encourage outdoor activity, and welcome new participants who may be considering their first FD program. As such, establishing more frequent local programming ranks as top strategic priorities for the year ahead.

Finally, First Descents aims to leverage the valuable expertise of medical professionals to refine program procedures and reach a demographic of patients whose treatment protocol limits their participation in traditional FD weeklong programs. These integrated medical partnerships, referred to as FDi programs, intend to build a nationwide network of hospitals and medical clinics that recognize outdoor adventure as an effective non-medical intervention. Additionally, First Descents’ contribution to the ongoing dialogue between physicians, oncology professionals, and those within pharmaceutical and insurance markets is an invaluable opportunity to advocate for young adults diagnosed with cancer.