Skico foundation giving tops $1 million
Editor’s note: As part of The Aspen Times’ continued Sunday coverage of the financial aspects of area nonprofits, today we focus on the Aspen Skiing Co. Environmental Foundation. Questions, suggestions or comments can be sent managing editor Rick Carroll at email@example.com. As of last week, employees of the Aspen Skiing Co. have donated more than $1 million to area environmental nonprofits. With $72,750 in grants, which Skico will announce today, the Aspen Skiing Co. Environmental Foundation has donated $1,022,676 to 220 organizations over the last 10 years, said the fund’s manager, Matt Hamilton. The foundation is supported through an option that allows Skico employees to donate a small portion of their pay to the fund that is then matched by both the Skico Family Fund and the Aspen Community Foundation. The match is capped at $50,000 for each organization. Hamilton said the average contribution per paycheck is $2.50 but ranges from 25 cents to $50. “Our employees are extremely generous,” Hamilton said.
Though Hamilton manages the fund and Skico environmental director Auden Schendler is its executive director, Hamilton said all decisions on grants are made by a board of 15 Skico employees, including a ski instructor, ski patrolman, food and beverage director and others.The employees set the mission of the fund and choose which area nonprofits will receive grants of up to $10,000. In 2007, three organizations received the highest amount – Western Colorado Congress, Western Resource Advocates and the Wilderness Workshop alongside the Colorado Mountain Club. The grants are always given for specific proposals, Hamilton said. Wilderness Workshop and the Colorado Mountain Club received the $10,000 grant this year to help with a push to make roadless areas in Colorado into designated wilderness. Western Resource Advocates will use their grant to help defeat three proposed coal plants while Western Colorado Congress got year two of a $10,000 grant to slow the rush to develop oil shale. Hamilton said the foundation has never donated to a project that involves Skico projects such as picking up trash on the mountain. He also said the Skico never applies for funding. Rather, the Skico only works in a supporting role such that along with the matching contributions to the fund, the Skico also donates the time Schendler and Hamilton spend working. Thus, the foundation has no overhead. “If you are en employee, your money is coming in and going back out,” Hamilton said.As the fund has matured, so too have the matching funds begun to reach the $50,000 limit. Hamilton said there have been discussions with the Aspen Community Foundation about increasing their matching funds but that has yet to happen. The Skico Family Fund has agreed to increase funds at $5,000 a year, up to $75,000.”We are, in essence, the Community Foundation’s environmental program area,” Hamilton said, explaining that the partnership came out of the Skico’s early efforts to get the Community Foundation up and running through selling ski passes. In 2005, the Foundation decided to roll over a rainy day fund of $39,026 to the Community Foundation (accounting for what appeared to be a deficit in 2005), Hamilton said. With revenue of $152,124 in 2005, the Environment Foundation gave out $150,070 in grants during two grant cycles, one in the fall and one in spring. The Foundation listed $3,000 in expenses for supplies and $25 in bank fees, according to the foundation’s Form 990s, which are filed annually with the IRS. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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