Nonprofit gets a lift from new Mountain Pass |

Nonprofit gets a lift from new Mountain Pass

A local charity organization has received a huge lift this winter from a lift pass program.

The Aspen Valley Community Foundation, a nonprofit that supports charities from Aspen to Parachute, will receive around $3 million from a program initiated by the Aspen Skiing Co.

At the end of last summer, the Crown family, who own Skico, initiated the Foundation Mountain Pass program, which made 30 unique ski passes available. The passes sold for $100,000 for one and $160,000 for a pair. They are valid for four years on all four Aspen/Snowmass mountains, as well as Vail, Beaver Creek and Steamboat Springs.

Ellen Freedman, AVCF executive director, said the public’s response to the program was astonishing.

“The program was fully subscribed in just a few weeks,” she said. “In fact, we had to turn a number of people away who were interested in the program, which just goes to show how remarkably philanthropic Aspenites can be.”

The current pass program revives a tradition of AVCF fund-raising. For years, Skico’s Bronze Medallion pass program, which raised around $1.2 million annually, was the only means of fund-raising for the organization. That program was phased out between 1998 and 2002, when AVCF attempted to diversify its fund-raising sources. A short-lived Silver Medallion program ended last spring.

At the end of last summer, Susan Crown, who along with husband Jim own Skico, decided to reinvigorate the foundation’s fund-raising efforts.

“The Crowns were instrumental in making this happen,” Freeman wrote in a foundation newsletter. “Skico feels a long-term connection with the foundation. They want to strike a balance between nurturing it and encouraging self-reliance.”

Although AVCF will continue to search for funds elsewhere, Freeman said the new pass program is an invaluable resource. Over the next four years, it will provide $1 million in unrestricted funds to the foundation along with a $2 million endowed fund called the Aspen Skiing Co. Family Fund. The fund will provide grants in perpetuity to local nonprofits in health and human services, education, and arts and culture.

[Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is]

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