Each year, for the past 12 years, Summit Hut has brought the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour to Tucson. The tour is an evening filled with some of the world’s best films on mountain sports and mountain culture. It is equal parts adrenaline pumping and inspirational.
For the past three years, we have donated a portion of the proceeds to wonderfully deserving non-profit organizations. Last year, due in large part to the film festival being a sell-out crowd, we were able to donate $2,000 to Friends of Saguaro National Park and $2,000 to Friends of Sabino Canyon.
This year, we decided to let the community in on the fun of helping us give away some money! Back in December, we announced an open request for applications for our First Annual Banff Grant Program. For our first year, we got a wonderful response from some amazing organizations. We got back 18 applications from a huge range of groups from Tucson Clean and Beautiful, to the Arizona Trail Association. Each of the groups that applied does great things for our community and we are in awe of their work.
We then gave three of our staff members the incredibly challenging task of selecting our five finalists. They considered every angle, the impact the organizations have on our region, the work they have done in the past, the work they plan to do in the future and what they would specifically use the grant dollars for. After careful consideration, the team selected five incredibly deserving organizations:
Sonoran Desert Weedwackers: Our mission is to protect wildlands around Tucson from the encroachment of invasive plants that threaten to destroy the Sonoran Desert. The Weedwackers work in Tucson Mountain Park mapping and digging out buffelgrass and fountain grass three times a month.
Tucson Wildlife Center: The Tucson Wildlife Center is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of injured and orphaned wildlife throughout Southern Arizona. They are responsible for the rescue of 700 animals per year!
Inner City Outings: Sierra Club Inner City Outings is a community outreach program that provides opportunities for urban youth and adults to explore, enjoy and protect the natural world.
Southern Arizona Rescue Association: A non-profit, all-volunteer search and rescue organization serving southern Arizona and Pima County since 1958. SARA members are volunteers from all walks of life, donating their time, skills and enthusiasm to provide a vital service to the public.
Friends of Kartchner Caverns State Park: The Friends will partner with the community, and provide resources, to advocate for and ensure the continued preservation of Kartchner caverns through research, education and public awareness.
To select our two grant winners, we have put it up to a customer vote. That’s right, we’re letting you decide who gets a portion of this year’s Banff ticket sales. Through next Monday, we have voting tables set up at each of our Tucson locations. All you have to do is come in and drop a poker chip into the jar of the organization you think is most deserving.
Banff Voting Display
After two weeks, we have had over 600 people vote and here are the standings:
Tucson Wildlife Center: 230
Inner City Outings: 145
Southern Arizona Rescue Association: 121
Sonoran Desert Weedwackers: 91
Friends of Kartchner Caverns State Park: 74
There’s still plenty of time to mount a campaign for your favorite group! Get the word out to come in and vote and get the word out to buy tickets to the Banff Film Festival at the Fox Theatre on March 25th. We’ll be announcing the winners at intermission on the night of the festival so don’t miss it!