As we wrap up another successful summer season, we are already thinking about next summer – and we start preparing for 2024 by reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the next. This past year, we have continued to advance our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in meaningful and tangible ways, and we are excited to share our fourth annual post (last year’s can be found here) updating the Apogee community on our ongoing commitment to DEI.
We recognize our journey towards creating a more inclusive, accessible, and diverse program never truly ends, and as a small fish in the big outdoor industry pond, we know we have a long way to go – but nonetheless, we are proud of what we have accomplished and are excited to share our progress and future plans with you all!
1. Development and Launch of COOP: Creating Outdoor Opportunities Program
One of our proudest achievements of this past year was the launch of our Creating Outdoor Opportunities Program (COOP). We welcomed five COOP students on our trips to Alaska, Vermont, and Maine, and their experiences have only reaffirmed our belief that creating more equitable access to the outdoors can transform lives. We are eager to build upon the success of COOP’s first official year and hope to work with additional partners to identify more deserving students in an effort to double COOP participation for 2024.
If you know of any organizations or schools that would be ideal candidates to join COOP, we encourage you to reach out to Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always on the lookout for new partnerships!
2. Supporting Summer Staff with Additional Financial Assistance
Recognizing the financial barriers that can hinder aspiring leaders from traditionally and historically marginalized communities, we introduced the Additional Financial Support (AFS) program in advance of our 2022 season. This initiative aims to bridge the financial gap and make our programs more accessible to a wider range of potential leaders. In our second year of the program, we were able to grant every applicant AFS, totaling over $2,000. Looking ahead to 2024, we hope to provide AFS for every deserving staff member who applies.
3. Partnering with Maine Gear Share for Gear Accessibility
Access to outdoor gear should never be a barrier to adventure. That is why this past summer season, we established an amazing partnership with Maine Gear Share – a Brunswick, Maine-based organization focused on connecting people with the gear they need to get outside. This collaboration allowed us to provide almost $7,500 worth of essential gear to both our leaders and students who needed it most – including several of our COOP students – ensuring that everyone has the equipment they need to feel successful in our programs. We are looking forward to continuing this wonderful partnership in 2024!
4. Continuing Our Commitment to the To The Top Foundation
Our dedication to supporting the To The Top Foundation (TTT) remains steadfast. We are thrilled to share that our fundraising efforts this spring and summer have resulted in nearly $10,000 worth of donations to further TTT’s mission of providing need-based financial aid to Apogee students. Matching each TTT tuition discount, Apogee welcomed nine TTT students on trips all over the world, and with the continued support of our amazing Apogee community, TTT is primed for another great year in 2024. We encourage you to learn more about the amazing work To the Top is doing on their website.
5. Learning and Growing with Dustin Ward
In our ongoing pursuit of knowledge and growth, we had the privilege of collaborating with Dustin Ward, president and founder of the Maine-based racial advocacy organization, It Is Time. Dustin facilitated our DEI workshop during our Leader Training this June, guiding us through important discussions on diversity, equity, and inclusion with a focus on the concept of identity. He provided us with valuable scenarios, tools, and conversation topics for approaching DEI topics – it was an informative, meaningful, and very practical workshop, and we are so grateful for Dustin’s insight and engagement with our team.
This past year, we celebrated milestones like the launch of COOP, our new partnership with Maine Gear Share, and our continued support for the To The Top Foundation. As we shift our sights to 2024, we are driven by the commitment to make even more strides in creating a diverse, accessible, and inclusive program. Thank you for being a part of our journey. If you have any questions or suggestions about our efforts, please reach out to Claudia (email@example.com) or Jack (firstname.lastname@example.org).