Geography, physics, ecology, foreign language . . . and skiing? These topics may seem unrelated, but professional athlete Chris Anthony’s nonprofit organization aims to tie them all together. As a skier in the Warren Miller films, Chris has had the opportunity to explore the world. Now, with help from other organizations, he has founded the Chris Anthony Youth Initiative Project in order to bring lessons from his travels into the classroom. During the last fourteen years, Chris has made classroom presentations to inspire kids to chase their dreams, set goals, and realize that hard work will help them realize clearly defined objectives, as well as helping them see the “big picture” of how science and other subjects play into real life scenarios.
“The kids are engaged from the moment I am introduced as fun athlete,” says Anthony. As he shows film clips from his journey around the world, the kids get excited about “teachable moments.” For instance, he might work with a teacher in a class studying geography to prepare a lesson about skiing in Ecuador, where he climbed the highest active volcano in the world. “Children are amazed when they realize that it snows at the equator if you hike high enough up!” For another session, he might show a clip of a world cup skier in slow motion, which leads to a discussion about everything going on behind the scenes, including physics, neurology, the atmosphere, and physiology.
For a time, these classroom presentations were supported by Colorado Ski Country, and the Ski Passport program, through which 5th grade students get free ski passes and 6th graders pay a reduced fee for a ski pass. After that budget got reduced, Chris found himself funding the visits out of his own pocket, driven by passion. Realizing that there may be continued uncertainty about sponsorship, but being fully committed to continuing the educational programming, for a short period, Chris obtained a grant from the Anschutz foundation and partnered with SOS Outreach, an established nonprofit organization to open the world of mountain adventures to at-risk youth.
While Chris was thrilled to work with SOS Outreach, he wanted to connect with more children and make the program available to kids across the economic spectrum. In the fall of 2013, the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center acted as a collaborative incubator to guide Anthony through the process of establishing his own 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
The Chris Anthony Youth Initiative Project was thus founded with a goal to improve the quality of life through introducing youth to educational enrichment opportunities. He aims to act as a bridge between kids and educational enrichment opportunities they may not yet be aware of, such as a science school in Vail. The Youth Initiative also has created a fund to give children financial aid for scholarships to programs, such as the Nuggets Youth Camp, a winter sports skiing and training program in Durango, and avalanche training. Anthony plans to continue this role as he also works on film projects, adult ski trips, and involvement with the Warren Miller organization.