Main Content

The Summit Foundation Celebrates 40 Years Of Trail Blazing

Published: April 27, 2024

For the last 40 years, the Summit Foundation has remained proactive, agile and responsive to supporting Summit County’s needs as Summit County’s premier philanthropic organization.

The community’s generosity and care in supporting each other is demonstrated by the $53 million invested in the community by 3,500 donors over the last four decades.

Humble Beginning To Transformative Local Philanthropy

With the vision of enriching the well-being of Summit County through support in the arts, health, education, environment and recreation, the Summit Foundation was established by Art Bowles, Vice President of the Breckenridge Ski Area, in 1984.

What began as supporting six local nonprofits in the early days has grown to reach nearly 100 organizations. In 2023, $2 million was granted to nonprofits.

More Than Financial Assistance

The Foundation focuses on impacting leadership, collaboration and education, empowering nonprofits to achieve missions in the most effective way possible.

One example is the NRG program (Nonprofit Resources for Grantees). Local professionals are paired with nonprofit organizations to provide temporary expertise in strategic planning, executive coaching, financial training and more.

The first Summit Foundation scholarships were given to Summit High School students in 1991 to encourage students to pursue their dreams.

In 2010, the Foundation introduced the Pre-Collegiate Program. The initiative provides mentorship and resources to empower first-generation students to graduate high school and pursue post-secondary educational goals.

The Foundation views education as not a one-size-fits-all endeavor and works to ensure scholarships are designed to support the unique aspirations of each individual recipient.

Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) were introduced in 1999. Today, this approach continues by empowering local donors to learn about local issues through community engagement.

DAFs allow donors to align their giving with personalized financial circumstances and charitable goals.

Addressing Evolving Needs In The Community

From addressing the soaring costs of health insurance and providing critical COVID relief and support, the Foundation has consistently demonstrated its commitment to the community’s well-being.

Building Hope was started through the Foundation in 2016 to provide resources and address mental health in the county.

In 2020, the Foundation responded immediately to the pandemic. Issues such as food, childcare, mental health assistance were addressed by the Summit County Cares Fund, launched by the Foundation.

The Foundation’s partnership with ski resorts through the Ski Medallion Program have been instrumental in its success. This program provides a sustainable financial resource that allows the Foundation to go above and beyond for the community. Last year alone, the program raised $1.7 million for the Foundation.

The Summit Foundation’s achievements over the past four decades has been extraordinary and here is to the next 40 years of making a difference together.

Real Estate of the Summit is proud to have been a supporter of the Summit Foundation since 2003.

For further information on how you can support the Summit Foundation go to or reach out to Jeanne Bistranin, Executive Director at 970-453-5970.


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)