Soul of the Summit: The Summit Foundation
It’s no secret that Breckenridge Ski Resort is one of North America’s best ski resorts, but did you also know that the resort is a major charitable donor? It’s true! This season, Vail Resorts launched EpicPromise, its program focused on fostering community and environmental sustainability. But even though EpicPromise is new, Breck has a long history of giving back its local community. In fact, one of Summit County’s most well-known non-profit organizations, The Summit Foundation, was actually created by Breckenridge Ski Corporation 30 years ago in 1984.
Art Bowles was the mountain manager of the Breckenridge Ski Corporation from 1977 to 1991. If you’ve ever skied or seen the double-black diamond Art’s Bowle on Peak 7, you’ve heard of Art – it’s named for him! In 1984, Art founded The Summit Foundation because he wanted to give back to the community.
Over the past 30 years, The Summit Foundation has grown in both vision and scope. These days, The Foundation distributes roughly $2 million in grant money annually to over 90 non-profit organizations in Summit County as well as in neighboring Grand, Lake, and Park Counties. Its grant recipients specialize in a number of areas, from arts and culture, to education, environment, health and human service, and sports and recreation. The Foundation also awards over $200,000 annually in scholarships to local high school graduates to use towards higher education.
Although Art no longer lives in Breckenridge, Breckenridge Ski Resort has continued its involvement with The Foundation. In fact, local Vail resorts Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail, and Beaver Creek, along with Copper Mountain and Arapahoe Basin all generously contribute to The Foundation through the Patron Pass Program. These resorts donate 300 transferrable passes to The Foundation each year. Purchased by everyone from businesses and families, to second homeowners, the sale of these passes, known as medallions, raises about $1 million for The Summit Foundation annually. This year, the ski areas donated 301 passes, with the money from the sale of the extra pass specifically allocated for Summit High School students to participate in the grant-making process through a Youth Giving Council.
Aptly put by Kasey Provorse, The Summit Foundation’s Director of Development, the ski resorts’ involvement with Patron Pass program represents “an amazing partnership – a wonderful way to support the community.”
Since its inception 30 years ago, The Summit Foundation has dispersed $20 million in grant money to organizations across Summit, Grand, Lake, and Park Counties. Chances are most locals in Summit County have benefited from The Summit Foundation’s programs in one way or another, which is why it’s nicknamed “The Soul of the Summit”; it is the thread that weaves together our thriving mountain communities. We owe a debt of gratitude to Art and to the donors and ski areas who continue to support The Foundation.
To learn more about The Summit Foundation, its grant and scholarship distributions, and the events the organization hosts each year, please visit summitfoundation.org. If you would like to support The Summit Foundation, you can make a donation online.
– Jess Hoover
Jess is a Breckenridge local who is just as passionate about advocating for sustainability and the natural environment as she is about skiing.