Skico, Foundation negotiate end of funding source |

Skico, Foundation negotiate end of funding source

The biggest philanthropic organization in the valley is goingto lose the Aspen Skiing Co. as its primary contributor afterone final push to build an endowment. An agreement between the Aspen Valley Community Foundation, formerlyknown as the Aspen Foundation, and the Skico will provide seasonski passes as a fund-raising tool for four more seasons, accordingto Lynn Russell, the foundation’s executive director. After that, the organization will operate as a “traditional communityfoundation” that requires contributions from throughout the RoaringFork Valley, she said. The foundation’s name change – effectivethis month – was designed to reflect that change in direction.The foundation was created as the Skico’s philanthropic branchin 1980. Over 19 years it has contributed $15 million in grantsto nonprofits from Aspen to Parachute. Season ski passes donated by the Skico have been the main fund-raisingtool for the foundation. In recent years, 300 passes were availableto contributors of $4,000 or more. “We’re not just about one thing now,” Russell said. “This is aboutphilanthropy. This isn’t about ski passes.”Cornerstone for endowmentWhile the season passes will be phased out, they will also befeatured in a new program touted as the foundation’s “cornerstone”for strengthening its permanent endowment. The Skico has contributed 100 season ski passes for that new fund-raisingeffort, called the Silver Medallion Program. Two transferable,four-mountain passes will given to contributors of $100,000 orone pass will be given for contributions of $60,000 to the endowment,according to Russell. The Silver Medallion passes will be good for four seasons, throughthe 2002-03 winter. For each of the next three seasons, a separate set of passes goodfor one season will be available in the foundation’s Bronze MedallionProgram. Funds from those sales will support the foundation’sprograms. For the 1999-2000 season, 150 transferable passes will be availableto contributors of $6,000 in the Bronze Medallion program. Thenumber of passes will drop in each of the following two seasonsand the program will be eliminated in 2002-03, Russell said. After four seasons, no passes available through the foundationwill be valid. However, members of the Crown family, majorityowners of the Skico, have said their support of the foundationwon’t stop. “When that four years is complete, they will review where we’reat,” Russell said. Russell said she believes the foundation’s future is secure. Abouthalf of the Silver Medallions have already been sold through privateofferings to prior contributors. A public offering is being prepared.The foundation’s health will also depend on the staff’s successin promoting a variety of programs to the public, Russell noted.Time for a change Jim Crown, the family’s managing partner of the Skico, couldn’tbe reached for comment about the evolving relationship with thefoundation. However, he and his sister, Susan Crown, who is amember of the foundation’s board of directors, stressed in aninterview last fall that changes were imminent. “We are engaged in an effort to reduce the amount of responsibilitythe Skiing Company has alone for providing resources to the foundationand to try to have other members, whether they be residents orsecond-home owners, participate more strongly in the Aspen Foundation,”Jim Crown said at that time. “We are not withdrawing from philanthropy in the valley,” he added.”In fact, we think we will be increasing our direct philanthropicpresence in the valley in the years to come.” Susan Crown, who runs her family’s foundation in Chicago, explainedthat the Aspen Foundation was unusual because it served as a communityfoundation – giving grants to numerous organizations and causes- yet relied on one primary funding source. The changes wouldmore truly reflect the “community” nature of the foundation, shesaid. Some observers have speculated the change was needed because theSkico was offering lifetime season ski passes as an amenity withmembership in its new private club slated to open in the new SundeckRestaurant next ski season. Memberships are being offered for$50,000. Skico officials have denied any connection between the foundationand Sundeck ski pass offerings.

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