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Vail Resorts CEO Katz gives $2.8 million to boost mental, behavioral health in mountain resort communities

December 10, 2019, 10:10 am

Vail Resorts Chief Executive Officer Rob Katz and his wife, Elana Amsterdam — New York Times bestselling author and founder of Elana’s Pantry — on Tuesday announced significant contributions totaling more than $2.8 million to further strengthen emotional wellness programs in more than 10 mountain communities where Vail Resorts operates.

Rob Katz
Rob Katz

The second annual distribution of behavioral health grants issued by the Katz Amsterdam Charitable Trust (KACT) benefits more than 40 non-profit organizations to reduce the stigma of mental illness, improve access to mental and behavioral health services and support collaboration within and among mountain communities.

Over this past year, the Katz Amsterdam Foundation has focused on connecting mountain communities on the topic of mental and behavioral health. In May, the Foundation hosted a convening of 60 mental health professionals from these communities, facilitating a conversation about similar challenges each community faces such as substance abuse, feelings of isolation, availability of providers and mental health outcomes. Following the meeting, community stakeholders agreed to align on a set of shared measures to support collective learning – focusing on progress in the following areas: social dynamics; mental health attitudes and knowledge; provider capacity; and affordability and accessibility of care.

“It has been inspiring to see the shared desire that exists across each of our mountain communities to make a difference, to help others and to ignite a passion for creating truly healthy communities,” said Katz. “We are thrilled to be able to help unite so many incredible organizations and support their collective efforts to improve access to much-needed health services and reduce the stigma and misunderstanding around these issues.”

The grants announced today further enable collaboration and innovation across mountain communities in British Columbia, Washington, California, Utah, Colorado, Vermont and New Hampshire. In Colorado, the donations will support non-profits in Eagle County, Summit County and Gunnison County.

“We are very appreciative of Rob and Elana’s continual contributions and passion for improving our Behavioral Health system in this Valley,” said Chris Lindley, executive director of Eagle Valley Behavioral Health. “Vail Health and Eagle Valley Behavioral Health are dedicated to making drastic changes within our community, and the Katz Amsterdam Charitable Trust continues to be a driver in that collaborative effort. This contribution will provide much-needed behavioral health resources to our community, and for that, we are extremely grateful.”

“We are so grateful for the grant from Rob Katz and Elana Amsterdam,” said Jen McAtamney, executive director of Building Hope. “With this grant, Building Hope will be able to continue the innovative work that is making a difference in the lives of so many of our community members. Our mission is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, and improve access to care and support for everyone in Summit County. This grant does just that – helping us deliver our stigma reduction campaign ‘IMPERFECT’ in English and Spanish, providing much needed funds for our mental health scholarships and targeting strategies for building therapeutic capacity and filling key gaps in the continuum of care.”

“This grant will allow for peer support specialists to connect with people most at risk in our community and give them the support needed,” said Rob Santilli, CEO of Gunnison Valley Hospital. “Navigating behavioral health in Crested Butte and Gunnison can be confusing, and the peer support specialists will provide confidence that care is available and assist with navigation.  The peer specialists will be based in the Gunnison Valley hospital emergency department and available to respond in the community 24 hours/7 days a week. This is likely to be one of the most impactful frontline programs to help in moments of crisis.  We are so appreciative of the support from the Katz Amsterdam Foundation – this is a true investment towards our community well-being.”

The KACT grants are in addition to the annual EpicPromise grants from Vail Resorts, which support more than 350 non-profits across the company’s mountain communities. EpicPromise grants for 2019/20 are being announced by Vail Resorts in December 2019 and January 2020.

The KACT grant recipients announced today include:

Eagle County, Colorado:

·         Eagle Valley Behavioral Health: $525,000 to support behavioral health initiatives and organizations including four sub-grants for crisis services (The Hope Center), community behavioral health navigation (Eagle County Paramedics), access to bilingual behavioral health services (Mountain Family Health Services), support to coordinate behavioral health programs (Eagle County Public Health Department), and a voucher program to increase access for those in need. 

Summit County, Colorado:

·         Building Hope: $270,000 to support therapy scholarships, expansion and evaluation of an anti-stigma campaign, and community-wide evaluation of behavioral health program impact

·         Family & Intercultural Resource Center: $100,000 to support growth of the ALMA program to increase bilingual peer support services in Summit County

·         Peak Health Alliance: $100,000 to support the launch of new nonprofit health insurance purchasing

·         Summit County Community Care Clinic: $90,000 to support continued growth and sustainability of the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy program serving students across the county

Crested Butte, Colorado:

·         Gunnison Valley Health Foundation: $75,000 to implement an outreach campaign to raise awareness of the Peer Support Specialist Program and hire additional peer specialists

South Lake Tahoe, California:

·         El Dorado Community Foundation: $300,000 to support the Behavioral Health Network collaborative, including several sub-grants to increase access to bilingual providers (Live Violence Free, Family Resource Center, Tahoe Youth and Family Services) and provide crisis response services to students at Lake Tahoe Unified School District 

Tahoe-Truckee, California:

·         Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation: $160,500 to build community data collection process, complete community-wide mental health strategic plan and a sub-grant to support behavioral health services at Sierra Community House

Summit County, Utah:

·         CONNECT Summit County: Up to $150,000, 3:1 matching grant to support expansion of mental health resources online platform and launch anti-stigma campaign

·         Park City Community Foundation: $300,000 to support seven community-based behavioral health projects and non-profits, including Communities that Care, counseling services for students across the county, bilingual counseling services, Summit County Drug Court and the Healthy Living Clubhouse

·         University of Utah: $150,000 to support expansion of new clinic and increase access to behavioral health providers in Summit County

Vermont and New Hampshire:

·         Vermont Community Foundation: $245,050 to support eleven community-based behavioral health projects and organizations across Goshen and Newport, New Hampshire and Ludlow and Stowe, Vermont

Whistler, British Columbia:

·         Sea-to-Sky Community Services Society: $75,000 CAD to support youth behavioral health services at the new Squamish Youth Resource Center

·         Whistler Blackcomb Foundation: $130,000 CAD to convene community assessment and strategic planning effort to identify and fill gaps in behavioral health programs and services

·         Whistler Community Service Society: $120,000 CAD to convene key leaders to help bring a Crisis Stabilization team to Whistler

·         Whistler Learning Centre: $103,270 CADto support programming with First Nations including life skills training, culturally appropriate peer support groups, and the development of program to train First Nation therapists

Stevens Pass, Washington:

·         Upper Valley Cares: $50,000 to provide seed capital for Upper Valley Cares to launch a free health clinic and provide behavioral health counseling

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