SmartWool gives $85,000 in grants

Local company supports nonprofit groups across U.S.

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— Steamboat Springs company SmartWool doled out about $85,000 to 27 nonprofit organizations in its most recent round of grants, the company reported last month.

The company's advocacy program consists of two funds. A percentage of Internet sales go toward the SmartWool Advocacy Fund, and some proceeds from Web sales of "pink ribbon" socks go to the SmartWool Breast Cancer Fund.

SmartWool awards the grants twice a year. Recipients of this round include Yampatika, Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, Partners in Routt County and North Carolina Outward Bound. SmartWool started the program in 2005, President Mark Bryden said.

"When it began, it was pretty centered on the Colorado, West area," Bryden said. "Our desire, since our business is done throughout the U.S., is to more broadly represent the customer constituents so, basically, to make grants that broadly are distributed across the U.S."

SmartWool's advocacy board, which consists of five or six employees, reviews applications and weighs them against criteria. The fund focuses on youths, a healthy lifestyle and environmental stewardship, Bryden said.

About 60 groups applied. Bryden said the $85,000 amount was normal for a round of grants.

"As our Web site business continues to grow, our anticipation is that this would be something that would be about pretty typical," he said.

The company has donated nearly half a million dollars in cash and products through the program, according to a news release. SmartWool is accepting applications for its spring round of grants. Information and applications are at www.smartwool.com, and applications are due March 1.

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