Director’s Letter December 2019

Partnerships to Scholarships

Philanthropy makes it possible for us to reach undergraduates who otherwise would never make it to Gothic.  In 2019 we provided approximately $150,000 in financial awards to students, equivalent to full rides for 20 students, or half of the 40 students we host.  For a society in which children have fewer opportunities to grow up outdoors, giving the gift of a Gothic summer is magical.

It’s a joy to meet students when they arrive, a vicarious thrill to see Gothic with fresh eyes.  It reminds me of how wonderful it was to be a young person from Kansas driving into Crested Butte in June with snow on the mountaintops.  When the students show up, I see it all over again and it sends shivers up my spine.  One summer we had a student who had never been out of inner-city Los Angeles.  I still think about what it must have been like for her to step in her first plane, arrive in the Gunnison airport, and drive up to Gothic.

The scholarship program is a three-way partnership involving students, RMBL, and donors.  The students, who are carefully vetted, commit themselves to participating in a community of scholars and taking advantage of exploring the outdoors.  RMBL provides the best experience we can in a cost-effective manner.

Who are some of the donors that make these experiences all possible?  Donors include alumni, current scientists, and parents that want to provide others the opportunity to experience the special experience their child received.  The accompanying article introduces Galvin Belfry, recent recipient of the Ryan Brown scholarship.  Ryan was a student who died in a climbing accident on Gothic mountain.  For 20 years his family has organized a race to raise money for a student scholarship.  They take great joy in the growing number of students whose lives they have touched through the scholarship program.

Keith Krakauer was a student in the 1990’s who returned as a graduate student.  He was taken from us prematurely. His family decided Gothic was the place that made him happiest and had been very important to him.  Through estate planning they set up an endowment that supports students who thrived in Gothic and want to return.  As special as Gothic is, scientists do not emerge fully formed in a summer.  The Krakauer endowment has helped us build an award-winning undergraduate program whose success is driven in part by our ability to mentor students across years.

We also have approximately 500 donors that make unrestricted donations that make this all possible.  All scholarship money goes to supporting the direct experience of undergraduates.  Unrestricted donations, however, support the administration, facilities, and scientific community that make the undergraduate research program possible.  Just as it takes a community to raise a child, it takes a community of scholars to incubate a scientist.

If you are interested in how you can help, either by direct support of a student, or an unrestricted donation that makes it all possible, reach out to Erin Fabbre, our Development Coordinator,  She first came to Gothic as a student and has a passion for the partnership among students, donors, and RMBL that makes it all possible!

Ian Billick - Director RMBL

Ian Billick | PhD
Executive Director, RMBL