Snowboard charity will run Vail’s diversity program |

Snowboard charity will run Vail’s diversity program

Nicole Formosa
Summit County Correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado

AVON ” Snowboard Outreach Society, an organization that uses snowboarding to build character and self-esteem in at-risk kids, will expand its mission into skiing this season and change its name to Snowsports Outreach Society.

The impetus for the change started with Vail Resorts, which has decided to hand over the administration of its diversity outreach program to SOS, according to Seth Ehrlich, the development director for SOS Outreach.

Vail Resorts has a goal to sponsor 1,500 on-mountain experiences for Front Range minorities in the fourth year of its diversity program this season. The first two years, the company partnered with Alpino Mountain Sports Foundation to facilitate its program. Last year the company decided to administrate the program internally, but found that wasn’t very efficient, said Bill Jensen, president of Vail Resorts’ mountain division and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain.

The next logical step was for Vail Resorts to expand its long-standing partnership with SOS, Jensen said.

“When kids pull up in the parking lot we do a pretty good job at handling that, but we don’t have the connections on the Front Range on a day-to-day basis that SOS has,” Jensen said.

Along with running its own outreach program, SOS Outreach will now also work to bring 750 minority skiers and riders to Vail Resorts’ four Colorado mountains ” Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek and Keystone ” for a two-day introductory course to fulfill the ski company’s diversity program.

The ski and ride classes are taught by ski company instructors, and kids are given lift tickets donated by Vail Resorts.

To facilitate the program, SOS Outreach has decided to expand into skiing, and recently received a donation of 1,100 ski set-ups from Salomon.

For SOS, making the transition into skiing was “a no-brainer,” Ehrlich said. The organization had reached its ceiling in terms of growth in its snowboarding program, not to mention, there aren’t many similar outreach organizations for skiing, Ehrlich said.

Because SOS will now manage Vail Resorts diversity program, the nonprofit organization is doubling the number of kids it will serve this year from 1,250 to 2,500.

The diversity outreach program is one of three SOS Outreach programs in which mentors work with at-risk youth to teach life skills and core values.

The Learn To Ride program features five days of professional instruction and necessary gear. The program focuses on teaching kids one of the five core values each day: courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom and compassion.

The University program is part of a four-year curriculum, which incorporates community service and life skill workshops.

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