Ski resorts aid The Summit Foundation |

Ski resorts aid The Summit Foundation

summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY – As another ski season concludes, The Summit Foundation is prepping for its 2010/2011 fundraising efforts – the biggest portion of it being money raised by its ski medallion program.

The Summit Foundation’s executive director Lee Zimmerman said ski medallions donated through the patron pass program earned the foundation more than $750,000 last year – a significant portion of the $1,176,552 awarded to other local nonprofits in 2009. This equals 86 grants in Summit, Grand, Lake and Park counties, 63 scholarships for high school seniors heading to college, and about 60 percent of the foundation’s overall budget.

According to Zimmerman, the foundation supports local nonprofit organizations fostering art and culture, health and human services, education, environment, scholarships, and sports and recreation.

This is made possible due to the donation of 300 transferable ski privileges (ski medallions) each year by Vail Resorts, Intrawest and Arapahoe Basin. The passes are sold by the foundation as its main fundraising source to companies that in turn use them for staff, friends and family members.

“The Summit Foundation is really into partnerships,” Zimmerman said. “This fundraising opportunity is a three-legged partnership – the resorts, The Summit Foundation and the people who buy them. It’s not a product that can be purchased from resorts. It must be purchased from the foundation.”

Vail Resorts senior charitable contributions manager Nicky DeFord also stressed the importance of community support by the ski giant.

“Vail gives $5 million in cash and in-kind donations across all its communities, and almost all of the funding stays in the resort communities,” DeFord said. “And The Summit Foundation is our main vehicle to support nonprofits.”

The ski pass program began in 1985 when Breckenridge Ski Resort started the foundation. The program has since gone through numerous changes – it became a separate entity and it added the Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain connection.

“The resorts still said it wanted to be a main player for support of the nonprofit,” DeFord said. “There’s a long history. The Summit Foundation has a pulse on what the community’s needs are. It’s so important, especially going into the off season. Nonprofits help a lot when people need more (aid).”

Zimmerman stressed that Vail Resorts’ contributions to the foundation are “very significant” – as 77 percent of medallion usage occurs at Vail Resorts-owned locations.

Though funds are also raised through general contributions, payroll contributions and events, “with the money generated from ski pass contributions it goes a long way,” he said.

“The patron pass program continues to be the cornerstone of the fundraising efforts for The Summit Foundation,” Zimmerman added. “Without the partnership, we couldn’t be able to do the grants that we do.”

The foundation’s spring-season grants will be awarded in June – the application deadline was last week. Grants are given out both in the spring and fall, but organizations are only able to apply for one grant each year.

Zimmerman said about 35 nonprofits from Summit, Lake, Park and Grand counties applied for Spring 2010, and the total requests are about the same as last year.

For more information about The Summit Foundation, visit

Caitlin Row can be reached

at (970) 668-4633 or at

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