The Students on Ice (SOI) Foundation is driven by a passion for the Polar Regions. We believe in the power of connecting youth to nature and fostering within them an appreciation for the planet, themselves and each other. Education is the foundation of the SOI approach and we are dedicated to inspiring and supporting youth and providing them with the necessary tools to instill positive change in their communities and around the world.
Founded in 2000, the SOI Foundation supports SOI’s numerous activities by connecting people, organizations and funding around ideas, initiatives, programs and projects related to the Polar Regions. Our core expedition program takes youth from around the world on life-changing journeys to the Arctic and Antarctic. Thanks to the support of our generous partners, the majority of youth on expedition are fully funded to participate.
Our ship and land-based expeditions introduce students to a broad spectrum of dialogue related to these regions. We engage youth in processes of discovery, fact-finding, analysis, synthesis, reflection and idea development. We bridge cultural barriers and students learn first-hand about climate change, ocean conservation, reconciliation and other important and pressing topics. We connect youth to fellow students from around the world and a team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous scientists, historians, artists, musicians, authors and visionary leaders. Throughout their learning experience we support each participant in developing a strong sense of self and a personal paradigm of ability and opportunity.
Beyond expeditions, SOI and our partners continue to support alumni in their lifelong journey of personal and professional growth by connecting them with our large and integrated network of peers, educators, mentors, and partners. We encourage and support alumni to participate and engage in opportunities for further education, training and career advancement that contribute to a healthy and sustainable future. The result is a network of more than 2,700 alumni from 52 countries who are making a difference on a local and global level.
2017 was a pivotal year as it marked Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation and SOI’s largest expedition, Canada C3. Supported by the Government of Canada as a Canada 150 Signature Project, this 150-day expedition sailed from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage, connecting Canadians from coast to coast to coast and inspiring a deeper understanding of our land, our peoples, and the past, present, and future of our country.
The SOI Foundation’s key programs are the following:
Polar Expeditions: SOI's Arctic and Antarctic expeditions provide a hands on and transformational journey for students from around the globe. Each day is filled with land and ocean-based excursions, presentations, workshops, hands-on research, hikes, and lots of adventure! Activities include wildlife encounters, visits to Arctic communities, as well as the opportunity to acquire first-hand knowledge and insight into the dynamics of climate change, Inuit knowledge, scientific research, policy and other important polar and global topics
Canada C3 Legacy: Reflecting on the past and looking towards the future, this epic 15-day sailing journey through the Northwest Passage explored the four key themes of Canada 150: Diversity and Inclusion, Reconciliation, Youth Engagement and the Environment. The Canada C3 Legacy Program aims to leverage the impact of the C3 journey and to continue collective efforts to build a better future. The SOI Foundation is working on a number of commemorative and educational legacy projects that will serve to further connect and mobilize people for years to come. These projects include a documentary, a coffee table book, an art and music exhibit, a digital storytelling series, and a Giant Floor Map program for classrooms.
Alumni Programs: Participants leave their expedition experience inspired and empowered to make positive change in their own lives, their communities and across the globe. Since its inception, SOI Foundation has supported its alumni by facilitating connections between alumni, providing personal support for alumni-led initiatives, sharing opportunities for further education and personal growth, and connecting alumni to our network of partners and supporters. The program also provides alumni with opportunities to apply for micro-grants, connect with mentors and represent the youth voice and community perspectives at local, regional, national and international fora.
Arctic Youth & Partnerships Program: SOI Foundation has developed the AYPP, a comprehensive program aimed at lowering barriers, strengthening support, and increasing benefits and opportunities for Northern participants and alumni. Within the framework of this program, the SOI Foundation adapts its education programming to incorporate the specific needs of Northern participants, to develop resources and support for further education and training, and to leverage its networks to generate internship and employment opportunities for Northern participants and alumni.
Endowment Fund: the SOI Foundation continues to build its Endowment Fund in order to support organizational longevity, sustained programming and measured delivery on our mandate. The SOI Foundation Endowment Fund offers like-minded individuals and organizations the opportunity to support SOI in its commitment - to engage diverse youth in experiences that lead to long-term positive impacts in individuals and communities.
We need your support
The Students on Ice Foundation seeks funding from a wide variety of sources. Each year, up to one hundred high school students receive scholarships to participate on Students on Ice expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic thanks to the generous support of governments, foundations, corporations and philanthropists around the world.