Every journey begins with a step. The Board of Directors of the Crested Butte Snowsports Foundation (CBSF) came together in May 2015 to initiate the process of developing a three-to-five year strategic plan. That meeting, under the direction of consultant David J. Rothman, served to establish a direction for the undertaking that would follow.
In the months afterward, CBSF conducted a needs assessment through surveys directed at the community at large, donors and past stakeholders. Key feedback from the surveys reflected that constituents want to know more about CBSF, its activities and ways of distributing financial support. Also, for many, the expenses associated with participation in snow sports in the Gunnison Valley are concerning — highlighting the importance of support provided by CBSF.
The CBSF board reconvened in April 2016 to begin writing the strategic plan itself — breaking into numerous committees (including Finance, Programs, History, Mission/Vision and Governance) to accomplish the task. The fruits of that labor are reflected in the narrative that follows.
The Crested Butte Snowsports Foundation provides financial support for the youth in Crested Butte and Gunnison in their pursuit of sportsmanship, passion, excellence and discipline through snow sport experiences.
Every young person in Crested Butte and Gunnison will experience the joy and excitement of snow sports and be supported in their pursuit of recreational or competitive opportunities.
What We Do
What We Believe
Snow sports — and most notably skiing — have a rich history in the Gunnison Country. In total, a dozen areas supporting lift-accessed skiing have been built at one time or another, underscoring the importance of the sport in the area.
Organized skiing in the Gunnison Country dates back to the 1890s, when the Crested Butte Snowshoe and Toboggan Club was formed (“snowshoe” was the term, at the time, assigned to the equipment we now know as skis), and races were frequently held in the area for miners to exhibit their athletic prowess. Every year, six to seven races were held in locations such as Crested Butte, Gothic, Irwin, Gunnison, Crystal and Schofield. These competitions took place on the sides of mountains or steep hills and were 500 to 700 meters long without gates. Racers achieved great speeds, and big crowds gathered to watch. Al Johnson, the man who carried the mail between Crested Butte and Crystal, was known as “the champion showshoer (skier) of the mountains,” having won many races.
Over the decades that followed, the Gunnison Valley Ski Club became involved in building small ski areas around the county — including the Sagebrush Ski Area outside Gunnison utilizing Works Project Administration funding, and later Pioneer Ski Area three miles up Cement Creek. The Rozman Hill Ski Area, south of Crested Butte, began during the winter of 1949-50, replacing Pioneer. Rozman Hill initially existed for the Western State College ski team (formed in 1946) and included a ski jump, judging tower, two rope tows and a cross country course. Rozman Hill closed — except for cross country — when the Crested Butte Ski Area opened during the winter of 1961-62.
In the early 1950s, the Crested Butte Club re-emerged with the intent of constructing a ski lift for use of townspeople and their children. When the Crested Butte Ski Area was established in the early 1960s, ski racing became the main focus of the Club’s activities, with race team membership growing to a peak in 1976 of nearly 80 racers.
The organization was incorporated as the Crested Butte Ski Club on June 16, 1978 (and subsequently received its official 501c3 status in March 1983), with the stated purpose “for the educational, instructional and athletic benefit of its members and to provide assistance for under-privileged children in obtaining the benefits of ski competition.” The Crested Butte Ski Club pursued this mission for more than 25 years by managing a full-scale alpine race program, offering scholarships to young athletes to participate and compete, hosting events and competitive ski races, and building community through youth snow sports.
In 1978, the Club limited the program to athletes of high school age and under in order to encourage parental participation in the race program and to increase the benefit to the younger children growing up in the community.
While the Crested Butte Academy was formed in the 1990s as a boarding school and competition training program, eventually expanding to include the new disciplines of snowboarding and big mountain competition, the Ski Club continued to focus mainly on alpine ski racing. At the same time, however, other snow sports were gaining prominence in the area. In 1987, the Crested Butte Nordic Center was founded. In 1995, the Ski Club and the Academy created the first freeride and snowboarding programs.
During this time, the Ski Club and the Academy maintained an informal agreement that the Academy would primarily train athletes ages 13 and up, while the Ski Club would focus on ages 12 and under. Due to financial pressures, the Academy was forced to close its operations in 2008.
In the wake of this closure, Crested Butte Mountain Resort established the Mountain Sports Team (MST), an alpine sport competition program encompassing all ages and disciplines of winter sports. In an effort to provide the best possible program, with quality coaches and more training options, MST raised its fees well above those previously charged by the Ski Club.
These changes in local programming, the advent of new snow sport disciplines and relations with various partners resulted in the organization’s need to change its name in 2012 to the Crested Butte Snowsports Foundation to better represent a new approach to the same, long-standing mission — support by way of education and charitable grants to qualified youth with financial need who wish to participate in the high-quality competitive MST winter sports program.
As a result of the change, CBSF no longer offers direct youth snow sport programming, but rather works with various partner programs. This allows the Foundation to work with all snow sport disciplines — offering support to the entire snow sports community, grant funding to local snow sports programs, and scholarships to local student-athletes based on need and merit.
It is recognized that effective governance is the basis for Crested Butte Snowsports Foundation’s continued success. This includes an engaged Board of Directors representing various aspects of the snow sports community, as well as standing committees that meet regularly to advance the Foundation’s mission and vision.
Standing committees comprised of board members shall include Governance, Events, Scholarship, Public Relations and Marketing, Programs, Finance, Development and Strategic Planning. On an annual basis, CBSF will revisit committee roles and composition and, when necessary, add or reassign members.
Prior to July 2017, the board’s Governance Committee will revisit the board manual, updating the document to reflect priorities outlined in this strategic plan. This shall include board expectations and a new board matrix reflective of current board composition and goals. For example, CBSF values the following qualities reflected among board members as members of the valley wide community: access to large donors; development experience/ability to fundraise; grant-writing experience; and governance experience. Additionally, the CBSF board should include representation from Gunnison and the surrounding area; the Nordic community, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Gunnison Watershed RE1J School District and other partner programs; second homeowners; women and individuals aged 51 and older.
Some of these qualities are represented on the current board, others are not. In coming years, CBSF will strive to grow the size of its board — to between 12 and 15 members — by seeking out additional members of the community who offer the aforementioned qualities, or represent aforementioned groups and programs. Prospective board candidates will be identified annually by the Governance Committee.
CBSF recognizes the value that prospective board members can bring to the organization through contributions to committee work. When possible, CBSF will cultivate prospective board candidates by utilizing their skill sets as a resource for committee work prior to election to the board. CBSF will strive for each committee to be comprised of at least one non-board member of the community.
From here forth, the board will conduct an annual performance review of itself — both individually and as a group, which will include the Executive Director. CBSF will strive to bring on new board members regularly, replacing those who have served the organization for tenure of no more than six years.
Strategic Resource Development for Sustainability and Growth
A thoughtful and strong strategic development plan is the foundation that will help CBSF meet its mission and achieve its vision. Financial stability is of utmost importance for the Foundation, which will enable CBSF to attract and retain large donors and sponsors, increase memberships, secure grants and host successful fundraising events. This will, in turn, increase the amount of annual scholarship funds awarded, and allow CBSF to provide additional grant funding for our partner programs.