The Burton Blog

25 Years of The Chill Foundation: Past, Present & Future

The Chill Foundation was established in 1995 by Jake and Donna Carpenter with the goal of inspiring youth to overcome challenges through boardsports.

Take a moment to imagine an afternoon at your favorite local mountain: it’s early March, the days are starting to get a little longer, and the sun sparkles off the snow through wispy late winter clouds. You point your board down the mountain and as you lean into your first turn the stresses of the week just fade away.

Now, think about all of the things that had to happen for you to be able to enjoy that exact moment. Maybe your parents got you out on the slopes while you were young; maybe you grew up close to a mountain; maybe the cost of lift tickets was never a problem. The bottom line is that many people don’t get the opportunity to enjoy the sport we love because of factors that are simply out of their control.

Jake and Donna knew this; they both understood early on that accessibility was crucial for the long-term health and sustainability of snowboarding. But making snowboarding more accessible wasn’t enough. Their vision was to use snowboarding as a vehicle for learning and growth, and so The Chill Foundation was born in 1995 on the slopes of Bolton Valley in northern Vermont.

25 Years of The Chill Foundation: Snowboard Program Participants
25 Years of The Chill Foundation: Riding Together

What is The Chill Foundation?

The Chill Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization headquartered in Burlington, Vermont (in the same building as Craig’s Prototype Facility on Burton’s main campus), that uses boardsports to empower youth in their quest for resilience, confidence, and a better understanding of their true self. Working with participants from marginalized communities, Chill utilizes the experience of snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing, and paddleboarding to frame life lessons that promote personal growth and supportive community for kids who may be struggling with negative circumstances that are holding them back. In fact, many of the youth in the program have never left their cities, and most have never been to the mountains.

Chill has helped me to learn new things by constantly pushing me to keep trying even after I have fallen. The program has changed how I live.
– Dylan, Chill Participant

Chill partners closely with social service agencies, mental health agencies, foster care programs, juvenile justice programs, and schools in local communities to select youth participants aged 10-18 and get them on boards—all at zero cost to them.

Since inception, Chill has grown to 24 cities in 10 countries around the world.

Ride. Inspire. Lead.

There are three elements at the core of The Chill Foundation's philosophy and these elements come together as the guiding light for all of its work.

Ride: Snowboarding (and boardsports in general) is more than just an activity; riding sideways is a way of life and a different way of looking at the world.

Inspire: New experiences and challenges in the outdoors are cathartic and inspirational.

Lead: The leaders of tomorrow are the ones who find their voices today.

2020 marks 25 years of Chill and from its homegrown beginnings it has expanded to four different boardsports across 24 cities globally, serving more than 3,000 young people every year. As we reflect on all that Chill has accomplished, Burton is proud to continue supporting this work now and into the future.

Keeping it Chill: Programs

As of 2020, The Chill Foundation operates a total of 36 skateboard programs, 30 snowboard programs, 8 paddleboard programs, and 8 surf programs in North America alone—each of which revolves around a value-driven curriculum that consists of activities, reflection, and discussion. By removing all barriers and providing youth with everything they need to participate, Chill is able to challenge young people to step out of their comfort zones. And as youth engage in new experiences and overcome challenges and fears, their comfort zone expands. Pretty soon, what was their growth zone is now a part of their comfort zone.

It’s all about incremental growth, knowing personal limits, and having the support to make that choice.

Chill Skateloft Participant
Chill Snowboard Participant
Chill Surf Participant

Burton + Chill

As an important part of the Burton family, our goals frequently align with Chill's goals. Burton provides Chill with both financial support as well as support in the form of equipment and volunteers. Additionally, Donna continues to chair the Chill Board of Directors while Jake remains the Founder Emeritus.

It really was just a learn-to-ride program but then we started to realize that the things you need to learn to snowboard--like patience and courage--actually apply to the rest of life so Chill evolved into a youth development program.
– Donna Carpenter

Fun fact: Burton employees can make automatic payroll deduction donations to Chill with every paycheck (and many do).

25 Years of The Chill Foundation: Jake & Participants

What's next for Chill?

Continued international expansion of global programs is currently a major focus for Chill, as it aims to reach as many youths as possible all year-round. In 2021, Chill Europe will launch pilot programs in Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland. At the same time, the existing programs in Austria, Czech Republic, and Italy will undergo a rigorous review and relaunch process to ensure alignment. Chill Europe has a goal to run at least one boardsport (snow, skate, surf, skate) program in every European city where it is incorporated as a non-profit, providing positive youth development programs to youth facing challenges across the continent.

Additionally, Chill is investing heavily in the technology it needs to deliver great experiences for its participants, from initial registration to ongoing communication.

Chill Out and Make a Donation

2020 posed unique challenges for Chill, as a global pandemic shut down resorts, schools, and other public spaces. But it is clear now more than ever that our youth need Chill. Join the other 2,500+ annual donors who believe in the mission and consider making a donation to help support Chill and the lives it impacts through boardsports.

Here’s what your Chill Foundation donation provides:

  • $25: A lift ticket for one youth for one night of programming
  • $50: One day of stand-up paddleboarding for two Chill youth
  • $150: Complete skateboard set up, helmet and pads for one youth to keep
  • $250: Lift ticket for one youth for all six weeks of program
  • $1,200: Six weeks of surf instruction for 12 youth
  • $1,500: Two round trip bus rides to and from the mountain for all participants
  • $2,500: Lift tickets and lessons for a week of local programming for 40 youth

Now think back to that day on the mountain and how much snowboarding means to you. This is your opportunity to share that experience with the next generation of riders who may otherwise not get the chance.

25 Years of The Chill Foundation: Chill Out
Snowboarding gave me the confidence and feeling of togetherness that will stick with me forever. I'm definitely never going to stop riding.
– Meidan, Chill Participant