Fostering an inclusive future through Epic for Everyone

Posted on February 13, 2023

Epic for Everyone

As a part of Vail Resort’s Epic For Everyone Youth Access Program, Keystone Resort partners with the National Brotherhood of Snowsports (NBS) to increase access to outdoor recreation and help inspire the next generation of skiers and snowboarders. Learn more about our partnership and hear from leaders about the importance of cultivating community both on and off the slopes.
NBS National Brotherhood of Snow Sports young athletes lesson DEI

According to Andrea Yowman, Regional Vice President of the NBS, the mission of the National Brotherhood of Snowsports is “to identify, develop and support athletes of color who will win International and Olympic winter sports competitions representing the United States and to increase participation in winter sports.” Originally founded in the early 70s with 13 member clubs, today NBS consists of 50+ clubs with over 5,000 members. Clubs are based nearly everywhere across the country, from Miami to Houston, but they all have a common goal in mind: To foster a sense of community both on and off the slopes.

“People come to hang out with NBS even if they don’t ski or don’t snowboard” says Yowman. “You hear people say ‘Black people don’t ski’ and I was one of the people who thought that originally”, says Yowman. "But the club, the community, is so welcoming and there are activities that keep you engaged throughout the year. People come to hang out with NBS even if they don’t ski or snowboard.”

NBS National Brotherhood of Snow Sports participants DEI enjoy Keystone
From left: NBS Executive Vice President Lee Valentine, Slippers n' Sliders President Roxanne Rai Garlington, Ski Noire 5280 President Quincey Shannon, NBS Regional Vice President Andrea Yowman

Quincey Shannon, President of Denver-based Ski Noir 5280 Ski Club, shares that for many, that sense of community is a crucial step in introducing folks to the mountains. “There are a number of people who may be nervous about coming to the mountains, but you can change that perception by introducing them to other activities. We have hot springs trips, we went to the X Games this year, it’s about finding different points of entry to help folks get into nature and say ‘okay, now that I’ve seen it, now that I’ve seen folks doing it, maybe I’d be more interested in trying it myself’”.

Every year, NBS hosts The Summit, an annual celebration and opportunity for all 50+ chapters to come together and celebrate with friends from across the country. The Summit is a celebration of the community fostered by NBS, both on and off the snow.

In some cases, participants find more than just friends. In what is referred affectionately as “Summit Love”, Shannon mentioned that some participants have even gotten married on the mountain during the Brotherhood’s annual summit.

NBS National Brotherhood of Snow Sports

At the core of Vail Resorts’ partnership with NBS is the shared commitment to increase diversity and inclusion in the winter sports industry through grassroots youth engagement programs. Last season, Vail Resorts, with funding supported by the Katz Amsterdam Charitable Trust, partnered with over 100 organizations like the National Brotherhood of Snowsports, SOS Outreach, Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Chill Foundation to host 11,000+ youth across 32 resorts through multi-day, multi-faceted programs that included transportation, equipment rentals and more at mountains like Keystone Resort.  

"Resorts like Keystone are working alongside community-based organizations to identify and break down barriers to entry for the sports we love," says Vail Resorts' Senior Manager of Inclusive Access Travis Tafoya. "Together, we can ensure youth have access to sport, pipelines to careers, and connection to positive adult role models within their organizations." 

They’re getting all the gear, all the clothing, all they have to do is show up. And to see their expression, how excited they are, its amazing” remarks Yowman, who also spoke to the importance of representation among ski instructors, “I’m blown away by the diversity of the ski instructors that are here, when we got off the bus today… there’s that thought [for the kids] of ‘oh my god, there’s someone that looks like me’ and it’s just fantastic!”

Roxanne Rai Garlington is President of the Slippers n’ Sliders Ski Club out of Denver, and has been a ski instructor for 26 years. Garlington shared that, for much of her career, she was an outlier among her colleagues as a female African American ski instructor- but that’s starting to change.  “To see that evolution, to see the efforts being put in, it’s great,” says Darlington. There’s a perception that skiing is not for people of color, and we’re trying to get that perception stomped out.”

Shannon, while reflecting on how the industry has evolved, acknowledged that there is still work to be done, “It’s important for us to find the correct bridges that will continue to allow access, and [identify] who are the groups doing the work that we can continue to make the correct partnerships with so that it’s a holistic experience for those who engage.”

Yowman, echoing these sentiments, shared how important it is to continue to support programs on the grassroots community level: “You have to have these grassroots efforts, because I keep seeing the generations [of diverse skiers] that come, and I think that will continue so long as we have these types of programs. So I want to say thanks [to Vail Resorts] because there’s no way we could do this by ourselves.”

To learn more about the National Brotherhood of Snowsports, visit You can read Vail Resorts’ 2022-23 Environmental & Social Responsibility Report to learn more about how resorts like Keystone are delivering on a commitment to foster a more inclusive and sustainable ski industry.