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Posted by MMCF Mammoth Mountain Community Foundation on

One of the programs that the MMCF Staff is the most proud of is our Grant Program. It is an opportunity for MMCF to support a wide range of educational and athletic programs throughout the Eastern Sierra. 

One area that we consistently support is the funding of Ski/Snowboard PE programs for the local schools. Make sure to check out the full article below to learn about a local school that MMCF has been supporting with annual grants for the last decade. 

Thank you to everyone who has made a donation to MMCF, your generosity makes it possible for us to fund programming like this. 

As a small school, Lee Vining Elementary and High Schools strive to offer a high quality winter sports experience for ALL students.  This program is not financially covered by the school district in any way with the exception of travel.  100% of the cost is covered by parents, the LVES PTO, and grant funds from MMCF.   Roughly 40% of their students fall within the low socioeconomic range and families in this category do not have the resources to participate in these types of activities. 

Here’s an update from Jeanne Sassin, principal of Lee Vining Elementary School and Lee Vining High School. 

What did you get from the grant? 

Lee Vining Elementary School (LVES) and Lee Vining High School (LVHS) received a total of $17,000 to support our Ski/Board P.E. programs. We used these funds to pay for instruction, passes and rental gear for all participating students. The total amount that families paid for the program was $5 per day per student.

How did this grant improve the lives of the student population benefiting from it? 

The grant allowed all students who wished to participate to do so for a very small fee. If the family was not able to afford the fee, it was waived. Kindergarten through 12th grade students were able to enjoy physical activity in the outdoors, bond with their coaches and mixed age ski/board groups, learn new skills, learn goal setting, perseverance and the gratification of athletic achievement. They also were able to see their teachers and our school staff in a different setting, and get to know them outside of the academic realm. These positive interactions carried over into the classroom and caused more of a sense of shared bonds and collective enthusiasm for academics. For the 9-12th grade high schoolers, there is the added benefit of becoming familiar with the mountain as a potential place of employment. We have many students who work at June or Mammoth Mountain as instructors or in other positions who report that their Ski/Board P.E. experience contributed to their interest in working there.

Was there a noticeable correlation between academic engagement/progress during the time period that your Winter Ski Program (Ski PE) was running? 

Though we do not have any collected data to measure this, staff and teachers do notice a shared sense of positive school culture and enthusiasm during our Ski/Board P.E. season.

Did this grant have the effect that you were hoping for?

Yes, the positive effect was noticeable, especially this school year. LVES & LVHS have always valued the program and the partnership with Mammoth & June Mountains, & Tamarack, but on the heels of the pandemic it seemed even more beneficial to have students and staff sharing a love for outdoor activities and athletic achievement.

In your grant application, you mentioned a variety of three different snow sport experiences that will be provided to the students.  Is there any one that seems to be the most beneficial OR how beneficial is the variety that you are offering to the students? 

The three types of snow sport is definitely our favorite model. On June Mountain we offer alpine skiing and snowboarding instruction. The two sports differ in many ways, and students typically show an affinity for one or the other, especially if there is a family focus or prior skill set. There are some students who are accomplished at either skiing or snowboarding, and they use the school program to receive instruction in the other sport to explore something new, learn new skills, or bond with a different group of students. We also do Nordic skiing, though this year we were not able to because of extreme weather. This third sport allows 100% participation at the Elementary level, which benefits any student whose parents are not comfortable with the inherent dangers of a downhill sport. Nordic skiing has a different ‘feel’ and provides time and space to be connected to the natural winter environment. Again, as stated above, students ski in groups that are composed of different skill levels and kids they may not socialize with at school.

You mention that MMCF has provided funds for your program since 2013.  Is there anything that you would like to convey to the donors of MMCF?

At LVES & LVHS, winter sports have been valued and promoted for many decades. The support that we have received from MMCF for the past 10 years has allowed many more students to participate, and caused the programs at both schools to flourish. It has also allowed us to partner with June Mountain, Mammoth Mountain, Tamarack Nordic Center and local June Lake businesses. We have deep appreciation for the MMCF support; and are glad to share the vision of a winter sports program as an integral part of the unique experience of living and learning in the Eastern Sierra.

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