After graduating 18 mentees in 2023, the SCARPA Athlete Mentorship Initiative (SAMI) is now accepting applications for the third year of its innovative leadership program. Created by SCARPA, the leading manufacturer of footwear for performance mountain sports, in conjunction with Mountain Hardwear, manufacturer of essential durable mountain equipment, the SAMI program is 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 or Mountain Hardwear’s athlete teams in the climbing, mountaineering, skiing and running categories.
The program’s ‘sophomore’ class made some incredible achievements, including the first deaf female and deaf American male to summit Mount Everest, a handful of films and video projects like Guerreras, a film following Female Latina Climbers, along with forward progress in helping make the outdoors a more equitable place.
"The Scarpa Athlete Mentorship Initiative was the push of inspiration I needed to create Escaladores Unidos,” said Xavier Bravo, a 2023 mentee and founder of Escaladores Unidos. “Not only did I develop confidence in my objectives by having so many individuals believe in my vision, but the connections I made with other SAMI mentees, industry leaders, and inspiring individuals will last for years to come. If nothing else, it is quite comforting to know that I will always be part of the SCARPA & Mountain Hardwear families and part of a cohort of athletes that are shaping the future of the outdoor industry for the better."
Deaf mountaineers, educators and storytellers Scott Legmann and Shayna Unger completed an incredible feat during their time spent as SAMI mentees — summiting both Lhotse and Everest in 26 hours. They’ve been able to share their story across the US, with community events still lined up throughout November.
Of their time spent in the SAMI program, they said: "Being part of SAMI's program has been a game-changer for us, especially as disabled and adaptive athletes in the outdoor industry. We may have planted our own goals in the beginning, but it was the support, resources, network and sense of community from the program that empowered us to grow as individuals and adaptive athletes throughout the year. If you are seeking an opportunity for personal and professional growth in the outdoor industry, the SAMI program is the place to grow with."
The ‘sophomore’ 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.
“SAMI taught me how to dream big and that anything is possible,” said Greg Donohue, past mentee and professional photographer. “During the program I pushed myself harder and took advantage of every opportunity that was presented to me. I learned that this program is what you make of it, so if you want to get the most out of it, you need to ask for what you want.”
SCARPA’s SAMI program is presented in conjunction with Mountain Hardwear and also supported in concert with brand partners Camber Outdoors, Darn Tough, Deuter, DMM and Hestra, Those partners provide additional support and resources for the SAMI program mentees.
Applications open on Nov. 13 and close on Dec. 3. Interviews will be conducted from Jan. 8-19, 2024, with the program’s kickoff on Feb. 12. Applications can be submitted here.