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Katz Amsterdam Foundation hands out $550K in grants to Whistler non-profits

Part of $3.3M in COVID relief and behavioural health grants given to nine mountain communities
The Whistler Community Services Society was the recipient of $30,000 in grant funding from the Katz Amsterdam Foundation, headed by Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and his wife Elana Amsterdam.

The Katz Amsterdam Foundation got in the giving mood this holiday season, announcing more than half a million dollars in grants to several Whistler and Sea to Sky non-profits.

Founded by Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and his wife, best-selling author and Elana’s Pantry founder Elana Amsterdam, the foundation announced $3.3 million in COVID-19 emergency relief and mental health grants this week to organizations in nine mountain communities where Vail Resorts operates—including $550,000 to local non-profits.

“As mountain towns continue to contend with the impacts of COVID-19, there’s been an increase in mental health challenges amplified by limited access to care,” said Katz in a release. “Through these emergency relief grants and our third-annual behavioural health grants, we’re committed to supporting the vitality of the communities where we operate. We appreciate each of our incredible non-profit partners providing local support when it’s needed most and building lasting programs for the health of our communities.”

In the resort, the Whistler Community Services Society received $30,000 for its Pregnancy and Infant Loss program, and its Birth, Baby and Beyond program. The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation (WBF), which offers financial support to a range of Sea to Sky charities, received $75,000 to support the convening of a task force aimed at creating a participant-centred approach to mental health services in Whistler.

“The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation is so grateful to be receiving additional funding and support from Rob Katz and Elana Amsterdam that supports our Building Community Resiliency project (BCR), a community-wide collaboration focused on improving the mental health landscape in Whistler and better addressing the needs of our community,” said WBF executive director Mei Madden in the release.

“We look forward to working with the BCR task force on the next phase of implementation that aims to bolster awareness of local mental health and substance use supports, improve access and help seeking behaviours, and enhance the experience when someone reaches out for assistance. These grants are very significant for the Sea to Sky corridor.”

The WBF also received $160,000 for its COVID-19 relief fund.

The Whistler Health Care Foundation (WHCF), meanwhile, was the recipient of a $90,000 grant that will go towards a long-planned upgrade to the trauma room at the Whistler Health Care Centre and to support behavioural health crisis services.

“This commitment has put us one step closer to our goal of raising $1.5 million for the trauma room upgrades at the Whistler Health Care Centre. The upgrades will help our healthcare workers in their support of our communities most vulnerable in a time of crisis,” said Sandra Cameron, WHCF board chair, in an email.

Across the corridor, the Sea to Sky Community Services Society received $75,000 to support further development of the Squamish Foundry youth centre and expand the foundry model’s regional coverage, while the Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society received $45,000 to support the remodelling of Squamish’s drop-in centre, which will improve crisis support capacity and children’s counselling for those affected by domestic violence.

The foundation also doled out grants to organizations in South Lake Tahoe and Tahoe-Truckee, Calif.; Crested Butte, Summit County and Eagle County, Colo.; Steven’s Pass, Wash.; Summit County, Utah; and Stowe, Ludlow and Mount Snow, VT.

The recent round of COVID-19 relief grants are in addition to the $2.5 million donated by the foundation in March.