Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and his wife Elana Amsterdam are donating $11.7 million to support COVID-19 relief efforts, racial justice reform, and programs for Black and Brown youth, they announced this week. The donation will be made to the family’s charitable trust and foundation, the Katz Amsterdam Foundation, which will distribute a number of immediate grants.
“This is an incredibly challenging time for our country, and while a primary mission of our charitable giving will remain supporting mental and behavioral health and COVID-19 relief efforts in mountain communities, Elana and I feel passionate about supporting efforts that ensure basic human rights, empowerment and health for everyone,” said Katz. “We are proud to lend our voice and resources to these critical initiatives, movements, and organizations that are creating positive change for our society every day.”
The announcement came several days after Katz sent a letter to all Vail Resorts employees on June 2 acknowledging his company’s role in the racial inequality being addressed nation-wide after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“While our current focus as a Company has been on recovering from the challenging impacts of COVID-19, it’s still essential to be aware and acknowledge what is happening around us. People of color have been hardest hit by this pandemic while continuing to struggle with the very real impacts of racism in their daily lives,” wrote Katz. “This fact makes me reflect on what our Company should do about it. In some ways, these issues might feel removed from the ski industry – to some, it might not feel like our problem. But that is the problem.”
He went on to recognize that Vail Resorts, and skiing in general, are overwhelmingly white, with incredibly low representation of people of color.
“Having been around our industry for close to 30 years and CEO of Vail Resorts for the past 14 years, I must also confront that I have not done enough to make progress. I see this as a personal failing,” he said. Read the full letter here.
In response, the donations made by Katz and his family will see $1 million go to Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans to expand and improve COVID-19 testing in the region, including for vulnerable populations that are most at risk.
The Equal Justice Initiative, the recipient of $500,000, is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American Society.
Another $500,000 will benefit the Know Your Rights Camp whose mission is to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization, and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders.
Specific grants to non-profits totally an additional $1.5 million will be announced this summer. In March 2020, Katz and Amsterdam announced a donation of more than $2.5 million to provide immediate COVID-19 relief support for both Vail Resorts employees and non-profits that serve the mountain towns where the company operates.
The net income of Vail Resorts, Inc. was $301.2 million for fiscal 2019.