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When Vail Resort began scooping up smaller Eastern and Midwestern resorts back in the 2010s, little did it know the advantageous position the company would find itself in to help increase access to skiing.
With resorts outside of major U.S. cities including Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and New York, Vail Resorts is primed to make inroads in the quest to diversify skiing. The Colo.-based company announced today partnerships with 11 nonprofit organizations that will receive a total of $560K in grants to fund programs that will get inner-city youth to the ski areas.
One of the most well-known grant recipients is the National Brotherhood of Skiers, whose multipronged mission includes a goal of getting Black athletes onto the U.S. Olympic snowsports teams. The NBS will funnel the resources to four of its clubs that serve aspiring skiers and snowboarders in and outside of Detroit, Columbus, New York City, and Boston.
“Our clubs in Boston, Detroit, New York, and Columbus are positioned to leverage their well-established network of volunteers and long track record of conducting youth outreach trips to promote skiing and snowboarding within underrepresented communities,” said NBS executive vice president Lee Valentine. “When combined with the resources and industry reach of Vail Resorts, we are encouraged about the outcomes this partnership will forge.”
The other nonprofits include several Boys & Girls Clubs, SOS Outreach, City Kids Wilderness Project, Indigenous Life Sport Academy, and Chicago Youth Centers together accessing 11 different Vail-owned ski resorts from Pa.’s Liberty and Whitetail to Wilmot, Wisc.
Kids participating in the programs will get five ski or snowboard lessons and rentals, plus an additional two sessions so they can bring a parent or guardian along. The programming will differ slightly among the nonprofits, but the grants call for added on-mountain education for all participants, including things such as career opportunities at the resorts in areas such as snowmaking, instructing, and operations.
“We’re proud to be able to support and accelerate efforts to get kids on mountains across the country,” said former Vail CEO Rob Katz, founder of the Katz Amsterdam Foundation, the Vail Resorts partner funding the grants.. “By partnering with the National Brotherhood of Skiers and regional nonprofits closely tied to the communities surrounding our resort locations, we’re looking forward to introducing kids to skiing and snowboarding who otherwise may not have access—broadening lifelong engagement by removing some of the sports’ barriers to entry.”