SOS Outreach, a sport outreach and mentorship program serving 15 communities and 24 mountain resorts nationwide, was awarded U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Champion Award. The award is focused on recognizing a person, group, organization, or program that has contributed significantly and sustainably to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in skiing and snowboarding.
This past season, SOS Outreach and U.S. Ski & Snowboard partnered on opportunities to give participants a unique close-up experience with U.S. national team athletes, including at the VISA Big Air at Steamboat and two community programs in Summit County, Colo. and Park City, Utah. In addition, U.S. Ski & Snowboard will host an SOS Outreach intern this summer.
“SOS Outreach’s work to make skiing and snowboarding accessible for all in our resort communities is really vital to our future as a sport,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Sophie Goldschmidt. “Its work to bring the values of our sport to youth from underserved communities is really what drove U.S. Ski & Snowboard to partner with SOS Outreach.”
Since the program’s inception 28 years ago, SOS Outreach has engaged over 80,000 youth in resort communities around the country. “These are young people who would not have been a part of the sport,” said SOS Outreach Executive Director Seth Ehrlich. “This recognition goes to each of those kids and to all the ones who will follow them. Our entire team at SOS Outreach is dedicated to continuing our work and to expanding the reach of our impact. Thanks to U.S. Ski & Snowboard for walking with us to make it possible.”
SOS Outreach’s philosophy is that no matter what social, societal or economic barriers exist, every child deserves the opportunity to thrive. Its programs start with powerful outdoor experiences. On the slopes or trails, kids unearth the courage to step outside of their comfort zones, discover new strengths within themselves and develop lifelong skills. Through its proven curriculum, they empower kids in our communities to discover their true potential.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard looked to SOS Outreach to help the organization plot its course in making skiing and snowboarding more welcoming, accessible, and diverse, raising awareness across its membership and the entire sport community.
“U.S. Ski & Snowboard wants everyone to have the opportunity to experience the sense of accomplishment and well-being that participation in skiing and snowboarding brings,” said Club Development Manager and DEI Committee member Ellen Adams. “We commend SOS Outreach for being a leader in bringing youth from all backgrounds to the joy of winter sports.”
With its commitment to being best in the world, U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s focus is often seen as being on developing elite athletes. But Adams cited the work of SOS Outreach, and local clubs nationwide, as being vital to the success of the sport. “Before an athlete is competing at an elite level, and even before they are identified as an emerging athlete, we rely on our member clubs and partners to introduce families and athletes to the sport and help them develop the fundamental skills necessary to pursue their goals,” said Adams.
DEI Champion Award annual recipients are selected based on a matrixed review of various factors reflecting the nominees’ impact on advancing DEI. The criteria include leadership of DEI in ski and snowboard, advancing education, collaborative coalition-building, development of equitable systems and implementation of effective programs.
The U.S. Ski & Snowboard DEI Committee was founded in 2017 to increase racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic diversity at all levels of skiing and snowboarding. SOS Outreach was the second recipient of the award, after National Brotherhood of Skiers President Henri Rivers was recognized in 2021.