Vail Resorts gives $3.3 million in grant support to 49 Summit County nonprofits |

Vail Resorts gives $3.3 million in grant support to 49 Summit County nonprofits

SOS Outreach, which recently celebrated 25 years of outdoor and mentorship-based youth programs, was one of the recipients of the Vail Resorts EpicPromise community grants.
Special to the Daily

FRISCO — On Tuesday, Dec. 10, Vail Resorts EpicPromise hosted the annual Summit County Giving Reception, honoring and awarding the recipients of the 2019–20 community grants cycle. Vail Resorts selected 49 Summit County nonprofits to receive a total of $3.3 million. Overall, Vail Resorts gave a total of $14 million to 350 community nonprofits. 

Vail Resorts maintains that the grants focus on youth and the environment, but last year, the Summit County grants were broken down into seven categories: youth programming, education and early childhood education, environmental, access, community vitality, basic needs and social equity, with youth programming receiving 47% of grant money. 

The nonprofits are chosen by local employees who serve on the local Giving Council. These employees review all grant applications and then decide who will receive grants. 

SOS Outreach, one of the local organizations that received this year’s grant, provides services that include outdoor recreational activities and mentoring to underserved youth.

“Since day one of SOS Outreach over 25 years ago, Vail Resorts EpicPromise has demonstrated a dedication to the community unlike anyone else,” Seth Ehrlich, executive director of SOS Outreach, said in a statement. “What’s truly unique about our partnership is the ability to engage Vail Resorts employees across all departments toward one goal — helping SOS Outreach youth gear up for life through mentoring outdoors.”

Smart Bellies, a local nonprofit that helps feed kids in need nutritious food over the weekends, made its first delivery just over a year ago in September of 2018. Since kicking off the nonprofit, the duo behind the project, Sarah Schmidt and Margaret Sheehe, have been busier and busier. They applied for the EpicPromise grant to keep them going with the demand they’ve received.

“We have grown so fast that we’re burning through our money. What we kind of parsed out for the Vail Resorts grant is our snack program,” Sheehe said, referring to the snacks that the program provides for classrooms. “Having snacks in the classroom keeps kids focused throughout the week and a lot of teachers were using their own money for those snacks.” 

Sheehe added that while the snack program will be a big chunk of what Smart Bellies plans to do with the grant money, anything leftover will simply help keep their program going. The nonprofit hosts packing parties to prepare backpacks of food for children to take home over the weekend. Those who would like to volunteer at these packing parties can visit

The Father Dyer Food Pantry also received a grant from Vail Resorts that they intend to use to purchase food.

“Our food pantry uses grant money to buy food,” Reverend Caleb Rundell said. “We’re a partner with Food Bank of the Rockies so we use any grant money we get to buy food from the food bank.”

The food pantry provides food for any community member in need every Tuesday and Thursday, from 10 a.m. to noon in the basement of Father Dyer United Methodist Church at 310 Wellington Road, Breckenridge.

In addition to the EpicPromise community grants, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and his wife, Elana Amsterdam, announced that they would contribute over $2.8 million to strengthen mental and emotional health programs in the ten mountain communities where Vail Resorts operates. This second annual distribution of grants issued by the Katz Amsterdam Charitable Trust will benefit 40 nonprofit organizations that focus on mental health.

In Summit County, four local nonprofits received the grant: Building Hope, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, Peak Health Alliance and the Summit County Community Care Clinic.

Building Hope received $270,000 to support therapy scholarships, expansion of an anti-stigma campaign and community-wide evaluations of the impact of the program. The Family & Intercultural Resource Center received $100,000 to grow the ALMA program, which works to increase bilingual peer support services in the county.

The Peak Health Alliance received $100,000 to support the launch of new nonprofit health insurance and the Summit County Community Care Clinic received $90,000 to help grow and sustain the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy program.

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