IdM History

The Beginning of Instituto de Montaña

The US-based non-profit, The Mountain Institute (TMI), was the original home of Instituto de Montaña. We began as TMI’s Andes Program, established in 1996.

The Mountain Institute was  founded in 1972 in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, USA.  TMI grew significantly and became known for its innovative programs in the world’s highest, longest and oldest mountain chains: the Himalayas, Andes and Appalachians. TMI partnered with mountain people to transform their livelihoods and protect their cultures which helped conserve vital natural resources for the planet. The Mountain Institute was the only international non-profit focused solely on mountains worldwide, and actively dedicated to mountain communities and their unique environments.

The Mountain Institute developed its signature approach to protecting mountain ecosystems and improving the lives of mountain people during its original focus in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia, USA. From the Appalachians, TMI expanded to work in the Himalayas and Andes, establishing regional programs in each. For over four decades, TMI partnered with mountain communities in on-the-ground collaborations to help them develop greater self-reliance and a broader understanding of their resource-rich, mountain environments. Working together, the most critical challenges were identified so that local solutions could be developed. This, in turn, helped communities adapt and become more resilient, especially in the context of climate change.

In 2020, after nearly a half century of working to foster resilient mountain communities, The Mountain Institute (TMI) concluded its role as a U.S.-based nonprofit organization. However, its main operations, online platforms, key programs and legacy continue and are now embedded into its former Andes Program—Instituto de Montaña. This transition is the culmination of a process begun several years ago.

The Instituto de Montaña is proud to carry on TMI’s approach and legacy. We work as trusted partners with remote Andean communities, focusing on sustainable livelihoods, equity and inclusion for farmers, women, and indigenous groups. More here about our current work.

Learn about TMI’s former Himalayan Program.
TMI’s former Appalachian Program is now an independent non-profit, Experience Learning.

Since 1972 The Mountain Institute has partnered with remote mountain communities in the highest, longest and oldest mountains of the world. We work together to conserve ecosystems, develop sustainable livelihoods and protect unique mountain cultures.