Outreach: Community Service

Upcycling ropes from Mission Cliffs

We always jump at the chance to help out local schools and encourage fun ways to stay active. Mission Cliffs and the Touchstone Route Setters donated some old climbing rope, and it went to a great cause! We just received this Thank You note from one of the teachers. 

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Instead of chocolate candy parties on Valentine's Day, Flynn Elementary School decided to do something healthy for their hearts and host their first JUMP ROPE FOR HEART DAY! With the help of donated rope from our neighborhood climbing gym, Mission Cliffs, we were able to supply enough jump ropes for the whole school to enjoy. With blasting music, "Kris Kross'll make ya!" the kids jumped their hearts out....literally! Thank you so much! 

Allison Shoule

Teacher, Flynn Elementary School



Community Outreach at The Studio

As The Studio Climbing expands its outreach to San Jose State University students and San Jose City residents with student rate nights and discounted memberships, its relationship with inner-city organizations is also developing as it donate services to schools, women's shelters and at-risk children programs. EMQ Families First is its latest big fan of top-rope sessions and Intro to Climbing Classes, finding the Studio Climbing to be a great place to foster excellence and boost confidence in their youth.

“Touchstone has been a wonderful partner in supporting at-risk children and teens,” said Nicole Garces with EMQ Families First. “These youths are able to set goals and work on facing their fears, while trying something new. They were able to push themselves ways they never thought possible! It is such a positive experience for youth and teams to try something difficult that requires forethought and persistence.”

Studio Climbing-67 EMQ Families First staff brings their children groups to the Studio Climbing often to rock climb at discounted rates. One youth said “rock climbing makes me feel good about myself, because even though I get scared I love it when I get to the top!” Garces added “It becomes a beautiful experience to see children surprise themselves when they are able to succeed in this. It has also been an excellent place for youth to practice coping skills because they are faced with different challenges when rock climbing.”

The Studio Climbing doesn't limit its efforts to only providing discount day passes for kids. The Studio often awards certificates to organizations for Intro to Climbing Classes for community groups, non-profits, and neighborhood companies. "We see it as a great way to introduce the local community to climbing, and provide fundraising opportunities for local organizations," said Touchstone Marking Director Lauryn Claassen. 

Outreach has been a priority for The Studio Climbing since day one. Manager Diane Ortega mentioned when the gym opened in March 2012, “I really want to foster a community environment and keep people psyched on climbing and make it really easy to introduce people to it as well… I am also very excited to introduce San Jose kids to climbing and get a great kids team going.” Ortega said the Studio Climbing’s location makes it easier to get inner-city kids involved rock climbing; it’s about enriching lives, boosting confidence and helping solve life problems.

Stacey, with EMQ Families First added, “We see kids who have a hard time follow rules and believing in themselves. They’re excited when they think about rock climbing, and their confidence goes up when they get to the top, but also in trying a wall harder than they expect. The walls at The Studio causes them to think seriously about safety and listening to directions.”

These are some of Touchstone Climbing’s main goals: safety first, customer service, creativity and community. To take a note from Touchstone Climbing’s Mission Statement, “We give to the community. This is good business practice as a service organization. What we give will come back.”

$8000 Raised for the Access Fund

Climbing is becoming a more and more popular activity. We’ve all seen it. Access to our beloved climbing areas often becomes threatened as the numbers of visiting climbers increases year-to-year. Not only that, the transition from gym climbing to outdoor climbing can be confusing and unaware climbers can leave plants trampled, grounds trashed, and land owners rethinking their generous agreements.


Access Fund, an organization based out of Boulder, CO, is dedicated to keeping access to our favorite rocks and climbing areas available to us. Pretty nice, huh? In 2013 alone the Access Fund preserved access in 126 climbing areas and propelled a new program called Educate for Access that is dedicated to informing climbers how to minimize their impact. 

Educate For Access from Gregory Packs on Vimeo.

The Access Fund's work in the region ranges from the “unlocking” of Jailhouse Rock in Jamestown, CA to the Indian Rock Park Clean up in the Berkeley hills. 

In 2013 the staff at Berkeley Ironworks took it upon themselves to raise money with their very own “Access Fund Month” during all of November. Chances are you even helped out! Berkeley Ironworks allows customers to make micro-donations, like putting $.25 towards your $4.75 Gatorade and Clif Bar purchases to make the $5 credit card minimum. They also offered a rafel where members could buy one of the magnificent photographs by local artists Mike Reynolds and Mike Bonkowski.

Our local athletes even stepped up to help the cause. The pro climber silent auction with rock stars like Alex Honnold, Beth Rodden, Ethan Pringle, and Joe Kinder allowed our members to donate to a great cause and get amazing instruction. All in all, the Berkeley Ironworks community raised over $8,000 in donations!

Although Access Fund is a growing organization, their hard work can’t be realized without your help. We’re hoping that in 2014 we can continue to assist Access Fund in their endeavors and bring education to the members that have help shaped our amazing community.

Stay tuned for upcoming programs, and thanks for your help!

Mustard Seed at Pipeworks

On Mondays, a group of children from three to fifteen years old head to Sacramento Pipeworks for the afternoon. Mustard Seed, a free, private school, provides a safe nurturing and structured environment for children who do not attend school because of their homelessness state. The climbing gym provides a great venue for the kids.



“The older kids are having such great experiences that now the younger kids are begging to come too!” said Maedlyn Tomolillo, a fourth/fifth grade teacher at Mustard Seed. “Their self-confidence, willingness to face their fears, and interest in physical fitness has all drastically improved!”

A number of students wrote to Pipeworks about why they enjoyed their gym visits. “I like Pipeworks because it is really fun and there are very nice people there. Plus you get to exercise and you get to learn how to trust people,” said Justin, an eleven year old Mustard Seed student. “We also learn how to be patient and we learn a lot of things so in the future we will know what to do.”

“I like Pipeworks because it is very fun and it is very good exercise,” added Reymundo, a 10 year old student. “We look forward to it every Monday. It helps us do stretches and helps us grow strong bodies and hard bones. We really appreciate you guys for letting us come to Pipeworks every Monday, and letting us climb and boulder. Pipeworks is important to me because I like P.E. and exercise.”

“I like Pipeworks because it helps us overcome our fears and it's really fun,” said Noah an eleven year old student. “I think it's important because it helps us stay fit and in good shape. It also makes us build up our muscles and helps us learn to trust the person holding us. It helps us with stretches and makes you think about what rocks you have to climb.”

Mustard Seed provides an excellent place for the kids to grow and their visits to Pipeworks add an element of fun and exercise to the program. “Their faces really light up when they talk about Pipeworks and all they have accomplished there. They even talk about participating in climbing competitions someday,” added Tomolillo.

10 Little Monkeys

Sera Busse, a 17 year old senior at Berkeley High, first climbed at a Berkeley Ironworks Kids Camp when she was 6 years old, and began competiting at the age of 8.  Through climbing at Touchstone Climbing Gyms and being a member of the youth climbing team, Zero Gravity, Busse has traveled the world, climbing and competiting in a number of countries.  

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Read more: 10 Little Monkeys



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