Almost 18 months after SCARPA announced its inaugural Athlete Mentorship Initiative (SAMI), SCARPA has graduated 31 mentees and is launching into year two of a program designed to create more access, support and opportunity for outdoor athletes from historically marginalized communities. The program will again pair aspiring athletes who are from the BIPOC, LGBTQ and Disabled communties with mentors from SCARPA’s athlete team in the climbing, mountaineering, skiing and running categories.
“We are incredibly excited to welcome in our new ‘sophomore’ class of mentees into the SCARPA family,” said Kim Miller, CEO of SCARPA North America. “As a 40-year veteran of the Outdoor Industry, a person of color and an immigrant myself, it feels monumental to help provide the industry access, support and education to historically underrepresented communities. We recognize that we have a long journey ahead of us, and working with these incredible individuals is only the first step.”
The ‘freshman’ class of both mentees and mentors regularly met to work on individual projects and goals, and new members can expect the same level of hands-on mentorship and collaboration. This year’s mentee goals ranged from attempting specific routes, grades and lines and preparing to climb Mt. Everest to completing AMGA Guide courses or other needed certifications. Most mentee goals were accomplished, including Eddie Taylor’s goal to climb Everest, which he’ll begin in April as part of Full Circle, the first-ever all Black team to attempt the summit of the highest mountain on earth.
“I’ve really appreciated the new community that I’ve built around me as a result of the program,” said Jackson Yip, one of the climbing mentees, paired with Graham Zimmerman. “Having stimulating trainings and discussions with these new folks has made me consider more deeply my place in the outdoor industry and the world in general.”
Their year-long program finished with additional group trainings, a Year End Capstone project and a graduation ceremony that brought the community together.
“It has been incredibly empowering to share space with climbers of all levels and disciplines,” said Shara Zaia, a climbing mentee and one of the founders of Cruxing in Color. “I have appreciated feeling empowered to try new (and scary) things like presenting at the climber’s fest and hosting an Instagram takeover.”
The SAMI program marks another step in ongoing action that SCARPA is taking to help create more diversity, equity and inclusion in the climbing and outdoor sports community. SCARPA chose its mentees in alignment with a program designed to create more access and opportunity for climbing and outdoor athletes from historically underrepresented communities. SCARPA believes that diversity and inclusion needs to happen at all levels of the outdoor community, from new outdoor enthusiasts to sponsored outdoor athletes. In order for this to happen, there needs to be stepping stones that offer accessible progression to allow individuals to follow their dreams and reach their full athletic and professional potential in climbing and outdoor sports.
“The people I’ve met, whether it be the staff at SCARPA, the people they’ve put us in touch with, the mentors or the other mentees have been so valuable,” said Akio Joy, a climbing mentee paired with Josh Wharton. “The best part is honestly feeling heard and valued by people I find inspiring.”
Applications close April 17, 2022, and all interested applicants can find out more about the program on SCARPA’s website. To watch the video recap of the previous mentee class’ experience, you can watch Louis Arevelo’s video here.