Skico donates 30 passes for charity |

Skico donates 30 passes for charity

The Aspen Skiing Co. agreed this week to donate 30 transferable passes to the Aspen Valley Community Foundation to help raise money for local nonprofits.

The new passes are expected to bring in as much as $3 million, part of which will pay for the community foundation’s unrestricted grant making and other programs and part of which will go into the newly formed Aspen Skiing Co. Family Fund.

The Skico fund will replace the Crown Family Advised Fund, which the community foundation administers for the Chicago family that owns the Skico.

Mike Kaplan, Skico’s senior vice president for mountain operations, said the family will roll more than $200,000 currently sitting in its advised fund into the new fund. “The idea is to create an endowed donor-advised fund,” he said.

The Aspen Valley Community Foundation raises money for distribution to nonprofit organizations and public agencies in the areas of health, human services and community building, with the vast majority of its contributions going to groups located between Rifle and Aspen. One tool it uses to raise money is the donor-advised fund, where the donor and a foundation program coordinator work out a giving plan each year.

The community foundation has offered passes to its most generous donors for nearly as long as it has been in existence, and the new Foundation Mountain Pass replaces the Silver Medallion program that’s been running for the last four years.

“The Silver Medallion program raised $5 million for our unrestricted endowment, it was huge, it really boosted the foundation,” said Ellen Freedman, the community foundation’s executive director.

Like the Silver Medallion, the new Foundation Mountain Pass will be transferable, meaning the owner of the pass can loan it to friends and family. The Foundation Mountain Pass will also be good at Vail, Beaver Creek and Steamboat Springs.

A single Foundation Mountain Pass will be offered to donors who make contributions of at least $100,000; two passes will be available to those who donate at least $160,000. The pass program will run for four years, which means once they are allocated, the passes are good for four seasons.

“The Foundation Mountain Pass program will bring in significant unrestricted funds for the community foundation, and it will build an endowed fund to support local nonprofits. We greatly appreciate the Crown family and Aspen Skiing Company’s continued generous support,” said Larry Marx, the community foundation’s board chairman.

In the mid-1990s, the Skico told the community foundation that it needed to broaden its fund raising base, announcing an end to the medallion program that had sustained the foundation’s giving since the 1980s. The community foundation’s staff and board responded aggressively, developing programs that vastly expanded philanthropical support for the organization and turned the Skico into just one of many major donors.

That success has been vital to the Crown’s and Skico’s continued support. Kaplan said the question underlying the Crown’s decision to donate the passes was how to stay involved with an organization that had successfully staked out an important place in the community.

“They’re interested in maintaining their connection with the community foundation and also ramping up and increasing their philanthropic participation in the community,” he said.

[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is]

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