A nonprofit that helps underserved youth learn to rock climb is seeking online votes to help secure a grant.
Nikki McGee is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Elevated Mountain Guides. She explains what the organization does.
“Our original mission started to help teach free wilderness medicine and get outdoor gear to indigenous guides in South America, especially women.” McGee explained, “I expanded the programing, started work on it a couple of years ago but fully got it up and running last year to help our local underserved communities access the therapeutic benefits of rock climbing and the outdoors in general. Because I teach rock climbing for a living and I personally have PTSD it has been really important for me to share that with other people, especially those who can’t afford it.”
Their latest programs are directed towards helping youth, especially refugees.
“Project: Climb is directed towards the local underserved youth. We just started a new program called Embark Outdoors for our female refugee and asylum seekers, and those are young women.” McGee continued, “It’s very clear that it helps especially people with trauma, but it’s often limited to those who can afford it just like a lot of mental health access. So, it’s really important that we’re actually able to service everybody with all these great resources that we have but we need to make things more accessible in general.”
The grant Elevated Mountain Guides is competing for comes from Select Health Insurance.
“It’s called the Select 25 grant.” McGee said, “There were 390 applicants for the grant. They give out 25 $2,500 grants. They gave away the first 24. The last one, the 25th one, us, Salt Lake Mission, the Murray School District, obviously we’re the underdogs, are all competing for that last one but it’s a voting contest. People can vote once per person, per device, per day until Friday. We are the underdogs in such an incredibly huge way. I just want people to know that we really really appreciate it and we really really need it.”
People can vote for the Elevated Mountain Guides by accessing a post on their Facebook page or through a link in their Instagram bio.
The program serves youth on both sides of the Wasatch Mountains, McGee hopes to use the $2,500 towards travel expenses.
“Our biggest hurdle has been obviously transportation.” McGee explained, “That’s what this grant is actually going towards is us being able to get our new insurance that we need, to be able to get more people into our program. Yes, we’re able to work with people both on the Wasatch Front and the Wasatch Back. We’re partnered with Momentum climbing gym in Salt Lake for the indoor stuff and then White Pine Touring for the outdoor.”