As part of our ongoing initiative at SNOWBOARDER Magazine to break down barriers to snowboarding and increase diversity within it, we are highlighting organizations already doing great work to advance these goals The following is not meant to be a comprehensive list or a competition, but a useful directory of North American organizations of all structures, sizes, sources of funding, and approaches to programming, united under one shared goal: increasing access to snowboarding. We encourage you to get involved in this mission as well.
For more information on the featured organizations, and the programs and services they provide, please visit their websites, listed below.
A-Rob Plant a Seed Project
Year Founded: 2011
Mission: The A-Rob Plant a Seed Project is one way for Aaron’s family and friends to keep his loving message as strong as ever. Aaron shared his love and passion for snowboarding and adventure with everyone he met in a contagious way. We will work to get kids who haven’t had the opportunity to go snowboarding to experience it firsthand along with all the smiles and joy it can bring.
Snapshot: The A-Rob Plant a Seed Project was started by Pam and Jason Robinson, mother and brother of professional snowboarder Aaron Robinson, who died in a snowboarding accident in 2011. Their goal is to make good on what Aaron wanted—for every kid to love snowboarding.
The A-Rob Plant a Seed Project is a tight-knit organization working closely with local and industry support to serve underprivileged kids in their area ages 7 to 12 who want to ride but cannot afford to do so. To get the program started, K2 and Lib Tech, Aaron and Jason’s respective board sponsors, set the project up with twelve boards each. Anon, Burton, and Pro-Tec came through with helmets and goggles. These days the local shop, Stumptown Snowboards, helps to keep all the kids outfitted properly, and Pam hits garage sales or coordinates with local riders who have grown out of gear to fill any gaps. The ’20-21 season marks their tenth taking kids up to Whitefish Mountain Resort, formerly Big Mountain—where both Jason and Aaron learned to ride—teaching them to ride, serving as life mentors and sharing a love for snowboarding and the outdoors, just as Aaron intended.
Carving the Future
Mission: Our mission is to empower youth through snowboarding and skateboarding.
Snapshot: Thanks to a generous patron at his mom’s barber shop in Jackson Hole, who cut the family a $500 check on the spot, Adam Dowell was able to afford his first snowboard, a purchase that set off a pro snowboarding career and a lifelong passion. In founding Carving the Future, Dowell is able to pay that forward.
Carving the Future engages with its community in a variety of ways: holding fundraising and community-building events, donating time assisting organizations like Coombs Outdoors and The JH Freeride Program in their efforts to increase access to snowboarding, sponsoring local kids into existing programs, and donating boards and gear to kids who would not otherwise have access. Reestablishing and preserving a strong snow and skateboard culture in Jackson, and ensuring that culture remains inclusive, is central to their efforts.
The Chill Foundation
Mission: Chill inspires youth to overcome challenges through boardsports.
Snapshot: Established by Jake and Donna Carpenter, the founders of Burton Snowboards, Chill has grown over the last quarter-century from one boardsport to four and expanded from one snow program in Vermont to over seventy-five programs year-round in sixteen North American cities. Chill operates in twenty-one cities globally, working with over 3,000 kids per year.
Guided by their “Ride. Inspire. Lead.” philosophy, Chill works with participants from marginalized communities through partnership with youth-serving organizations like social service agencies, mental health agencies, foster care programs, juvenile justice programs, schools, community centers, and after-school programs, providing a program that acts as an extension of the agencies’ offerings. With a focus on coaching resilience, progression, and leadership through the boardsport experience, Chill works with kids ages 10 to 18 in six-day programs, generally once a week over six weeks, and provides everything at no cost to the youth.
Mission: Coombs Outdoors empowers children and youth to reach their full potential through the life-changing power of outdoor recreation.
Snapshot: Emily Coombs founded the Doug Coombs Foundation in memory of her husband, Doug, an adventurous alpine skier who died in La Grave France in 2006. The foundation allowed Emily to merge her husband’s love for the mountains and the outdoors with her passion for equality, access, and social justice, by working to reduce the disparity between those who frequent the resorts of Jackson and the hard-working families who keep the town running.
Now operating as Coombs Outdoors, the organization runs year-round programming for kids in kindergarten through high school, with the goal of providing the tools and confidence needed to pursue their dreams. Their Activate, Engage, Empower curriculum is designed to introduce youth to a variety of outdoor activities at a young age through entry-level instruction, foster these burgeoning passions while also providing mentorship and meaningful relationships as they move into middle school, and empower high school youth through leadership training, internships, and continued outdoor recreation. The addition of snowboarding is relatively new to the Coombs Outdoors program, and directors and kids alike are psyched on the addition!
The Dillon Ojo Lifeline Foundation
Mission: Our aim is to provide youth from underprivileged areas access to organized sports. The cost of such activities can be surprisingly high at times, and for some of us these can act as a barrier. Through this foundation, we aim to help overcome the obstacle of cost for any youth who desires to be active in sports but cannot afford to.
Snapshot: Before his death in 2018, professional snowboarder Dillon Ojo had been in the preliminary stages of setting up a foundation that allowed him to share his love for snowboarding with underprivileged youth. His family and friends brought his mission to life following his passing in the Dillon Ojo Lifeline Foundation, a Montreal-based organization whose work extends across North America.
The Dillon Ojo Lifeline Foundation fulfills Dillon’s mission in myriad ways, with generous help from his friends, the snowboard community at large, and brands like Vans, Ride, Howl, Empire, The North Face, and more. As his mother, Elaine Charles puts it, “Wherever we hear of a need that we can assist with, we try to help out.” Their outreach includes facilitating school snowboard trips and donating gear, assembling Christmas gift baskets and providing graduating class bursaries for Dillon’s high school. They’ve worked with local skaters in Toronto to distribute decks to neighborhood kids, donated money to a Montreal skatepark to provide kids with access to a safe recreational environment for minimal cost, donated to anti-bullying campaigns in schools, to a football camp that has many kids who cannot afford gear, and many more initiatives. The foundation is run by Dillon’s mother Elaine, his father Francis Ojo, and former girlfriend, Sarah Lessard.
The Hoods to Woods Foundation
Mission: The Hoods to Woods Foundation is a nonprofit organization that promotes awareness of the outdoors to inner city children through snowboarding.
Snapshot: Hoods to Woods co-founders, Brian Paupaw and Omar Diaz grew up in underserved communities of New York City, a world away from the snowboard lifestyle. Through their foundation they work to give New York City kids an awareness of and introduction to the outdoors and snowboarding, sharing a passion that was life-changing for the both of them. Hoods to Woods runs a snowboarding program every winter serving children ages 11 to 19 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, and East New York neighborhoods of Brooklyn in an effort to build confidence, community, and facilitate individual discovery.
Mission: We are passionate about making a meaningful impact on the lives of youth, especially those who come from households where snowboarding and other sideways sports (skateboarding and paddleboarding) may not be an option due to financial challenges or the uncertainty of a consistent family structure. By sharing the experiences we had as youth to build a foundation, our mission is to create mentoring opportunities for young people to gain healthy habits, life lesson perspectives, and develop self-confidence. The REVERT Foundation is built on the fundamental belief that encouraging and inspiring youth through authentic mountain and outdoor mentoring experiences will contribute positively in the lives of the youth we serve.
Snapshot: Growing up in Grass Valley, California, Chris and Monty Roach found life-defining passions and built lifelong friendships through skating, dirt biking, and snowboarding. Both turned their love for snowboarding into careers that provided focus, purpose, and a ticket to see the world, among other valuable lessons. The brothers founded the REVERT Foundation as a way to honor what snowboarding has given them and to share that gift with the youth in their community.
The REVERT Foundation offers monthly programs for kids ages 10 to 17 through cooperation with school counselors, social workers and foster care case managers, providing challenging and engaging activities, supportive relationships with adults, and meaningful opportunity for participation to help youth become morally, emotionally, physically, and socially competent adults. Their programming runs November through March, comprising four consecutive Saturdays or Sundays. Sessions are held at Woodward Tahoe at Boreal, with lunch, all equipment, and transportation provided, if needed. The foundation has launched a new initiative outfitting as many program graduates as possible with complete snowboarding setups.
Share Winter Foundation
Mission: Improving the lives, health, and fitness of youth through winter sports, and fostering a more diverse and welcoming winter sports community.
Snapshot: Share Winter is a grant-making organization that works with carefully selected grantees nationwide, including many on this list, distributing donations to ski and snowboard programs serving youth ages 5 to 18. In 2019 and 2020, Share Winter worked with twenty-six program partners across twenty-one states, funding over 45,000 youth.
More of a resource hub than simply an organization cutting checks, Share Winter applies a stringent criteria in selecting grantees, emphasizing diversity, inclusion, and community involvement and prioritizing programs providing opportunities to underserved communities or to groups that are underrepresented in the winter sports community. In addition to supplying funding, generally to programs for 3 to 5 years, Share Winter participates in program monitoring and analysis, provides thought leadership and strategic support, and helps to provide industry insight and implement best practices. In an effort to promote a lifelong passion and engagement, grantees are required to provide at least four days on snow for each participant. They are also required to provide a plan for connecting each participant to pipelines for continued participation in snowboarding upon program graduation.
Mission: SHRED Foundation’s mission is to introduce underserved youth to snowboarding and to open their eyes to the opportunities for growth it provides. SHRED works to inspire our youth to follow their individual paths. With our brand and program partners, we create career pipelines within the snowboarding community to allow our youth to follow their dreams. SHRED values and teaches the fundamental aspects of snowboard culture, which include individuality, creativity, progression, style, entrepreneurial drive, and community. Our intent is to honor the history and, above all else, maintain the authenticity and integrity of the culture that we love.
Snapshot: Shred Foundation founder, Danny Hairston has a long history in snowboard outreach. As an avid snowboarder and former senior program manager for STOKED Mentoring and former fundraising and event coordinator for Chill, Hairston has worked for over a decade helping to write curriculum and implement youth development programs utilizing boardsports.
SHRED—an acronym for Snowboarders Helping Reimagine EDucation—emphasizes three core concepts in their programming: self-efficacy—building up an individual’s belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviors required to reach a desired outcome; career pathing, which includes introducing participants to non-traditional and creative careers and partnering them with individuals doing these jobs in the snow and skate industries; and culture and community—introducing kids to an incredible and welcoming environment, and the confidence, courage, and wonder that comes with being a part of a larger whole.
Mission: To engage students through the challenge of snowboarding and empower them to apply this success in their everyday lives. We have all benefited from snowboarding, learning to respect and care for the mountain, understanding the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices, and appreciating the joy that snow sports can bring. It is our hope to pass on this knowledge, excitement, and passion to the students.
Snapshot: Founded in 2004 by professional snowboarder Travis Parker and his cousin, Portland teacher Patrick Edwards, Snowdays Foundation is a Portland, Oregon-based, 100 percent volunteer-run community whose program teaches snowboarding to young people engaged in youth mentoring programs. The Snowdays program is designed to offer youth a release from the adversities they face with a new experience that develops pathways for managing challenges, broadens horizons, changes perspectives, and helps kids define themselves and their path forward with a new story. By working through challenges on the mountain, students gain self-confidence, strengthen relationships with mentors, and gain a deeper appreciation for the outdoors.
Snowdays’ twelve-week winter program takes place on Sundays at Summit Ski Area on Mt. Hood. Program participants receive a one or two day experience at no cost to them, with one-on-one or small group training from Snowdays’ volunteer coaches, transportation, lunch, outerwear, goggles, helmet, and rental equipment.
Mission: SOS Outreach changes young lives, building character and leadership in underserved kids through mentoring outdoors. Our life-changing programs combine outdoor exploration, positive adult mentorship, leadership skills, and community service to help youth discover joy, feel included, overcome challenges, improve their mental health, and become strong leaders.
Snapshot: SOS Outreach was founded on Vail Mountain as the Snowboard Outreach Society in an effort to improve the negative perception of snowboard culture that existed in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1995, the fledgling society organized its inaugural trip, taking fifteen kids from Denver to Vail to snowboard for the first time. Twenty-five years later and SOS Outreach now serves youth in communities from the Cascades to the Sierra, on over to the Rockies and the hills of the Midwest.
Driven by the tenet that every child deserves the opportunity to thrive, SOS seeks to move youth past any barriers to participation through programs centered around outdoor experiences, adult mentorship, service projects, and empowering leadership opportunities. By partnering with over 200 youth agencies and schools, SOS is able to recruit kids grades four through twelve who would most benefit from the SOS curriculum. Long-term engagement and personal growth are central goals of SOS, achieved through their progressive, ten-year, multi-phase program designed to help participants learn, master, and share snowboarding and the life skills and lessons they’ve learned along the way.
Mission: STOKED creates a community of fearless leaders through mentoring, opportunity, and action. Through mentorship and action sports culture, STOKED empowers underserved youth to reach their fullest potential, instilling passion, resilience and determination.
Snapshot: In 2004, STOKED founder Steve Larosiliere found himself atop Whistler Mountain on an inspiration quest, contemplating a crossroads in life and career. He was running a boutique marketing firm at the time and mentoring in his off hours. On the last run of his last day, as he looked out across the expanse of the Pacific Ranges, his 17-year-old mentee came to mind. He thought about the fact that his mentee had never left Manhattan, and about how great it would be to share snowboarding with him. From that realization, STOKED was born.
With this conception, Steve began working with host, sports commentator, and snowboarder Selema Masekela, and the pair founded STOKED to empower disadvantaged youth living in challenged communities through mentoring and action sports. STOKED runs a variety of mentoring and afterschool programs for middle and high school youth that prepare students for life after high school. Programs include skateboard building, brand building, and snow, skate, and surf mentoring programs. The aim is to give youth the skills, relationships, and experiences needed to become successful adults. The organization now operates in three major U.S. cities, has partnered with twenty-five schools, and has shared snowboarding with over 6,000 kids.
The Service Board
Mission: The Service Board (tSB) mentors teens to conquer personal and cultural challenges through outdoor adventure, environmental and social justice education, and public service.
Snapshot: When a young snowboarder was killed in drug-related murder in 1994, local community members saw this as a call to action that young people need safe space to build community. With the leadership of John Logic, Thomas Caldwell III, and Thomas Goldstein, the Service Board (tSB) was born and greeted its first high school participants in 1995.
The Service Board is a youth-led organization that seeks to create a space for youth from marginalized communities to find their voice, discover new models of community and power, and see themselves as capable of fostering a more equitable future. tSB’s focus on snowboarding teaches tenacity and determination in the face of challenges and provides a healthy outlet for youth to augment their abilities and expand their horizons, hence their motto, “Push your growing edge.”
Through year-round programming, tSB facilitates access for youth to traditionally inaccessible outdoor activities to increase diversity in the outdoors and build confidence. More than just providing a learn-to-ride program, tSB works to create courageous communities of young change-makers, athletes, and future environmental advocates through participation in service projects, social justice, and adult mentoring.
Mission: Winter4Kids exists to create healthy lifestyles and influence behaviors of youth through winter activities. Better health and attitudes are the result of increased moderate to vigorous activity, nutritious food, and mentoring. Lives are changed and outlooks are brighter, as each of our participants become better individuals through the mastery of snow and life skills. Our youth use these experiences to explore and pursue new academic, life, and sport opportunities.
Snapshot: Winter4Kids was founded out of a Share Winter initiative by former Share Winter CEO and chairman, Schone Malliet. Located at the National Winter Activity Center, which was repurposed and re-engineered from the old Hidden Valley ski resort in Vernon Township, New Jersey, Winter4Kids is unique in its ability to offer program participants an on-campus experience at a custom-built resort tailored to deliver gamified experiential learning, mentorship, healthy meals, equipment, camaraderie, and much more.
Winter4Kids works with schools and youth serving agencies to bring youth ages 6 to 18 into the program with the goal of working with participants for at least three seasons. Each year comprises six, four-hour sessions done either over six days, three days with two-a-day sessions, or over the course of a weekend. First year participants take two snowboarding, two alpine, and two cross country skiing sessions, and are then allowed to choose their preferred activity as they move forward through the six levels of progressive skill attainment offered for each discipline. Participants are also given the opportunity to pursue competitive activities through the Winter4Kids Athletics program.
Year Founded: 1968
Mission: To inspire youth through outdoor experiences and leadership opportunities that build confidence and prepare them to summit life’s challenges.
Snapshot: Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Richard Williams took his passion for skiing and founded YES, originally called the Youth Activities Commission, in 1968 with a simple premise: Give youth a chance. By the early 1970s, the program—then known as Operation Snowsports— was teaching over 1,000 youth from low-income families how to ski every winter. In 1994, snowboarding was added to YES’s winter programming. The organization has continued to expand, targeting the under-resourced Boston neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan and helping over 1,600 youth every year gain new outdoor experiences, make healthier choices, build confidence, become leaders, and prepare for college and life beyond.
YES provides an abundance of year-round programming and hosts a number of events throughout the year, including their flagship program, Operation Snowsports, which runs December through April, taking over 800 Boston youth to the mountain, providing equipment, lift tickets, and lessons at top New England destinations. Operation Snowsports encompasses both the YES Kids Program for beginner or novice snowboarders looking to get their start on the slopes, and the YETTI Experience (Youth Excel Through Tailored Instruction) that provides four trips throughout the season for increased practice, consistent connection with their instructor as a positive role model, and time with friends.
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