Voters win Steamboat nonprofits tens of thousands of dollars in grants through online contests |

Voters win Steamboat nonprofits tens of thousands of dollars in grants through online contests

Nicole Inglis

— Steamboat might be due for a new nickname, and it has nothing to do with winter or summer sports. Just call us Online Voting Town USA after Steamboat-enthused social media users helped three local nonprofit organizations secure tens of thousands of dollars in grants through online voting contests this month.

The most dramatic might have been the Bell Built grant contest, in which Steamboat's Bear River Bike Park proposal was down by a few percentage points on the final day of voting to a project in Maple Grove, Minn. Tied at the end of the voting period April 12, the results were up in the air.

A Bell Helmets spokesperson said Thursday after the results were released that Steamboat ended up winning by 30 votes “in a contest that yielded upwards of 15 thousands votes in all three categories (pump track, flow trail and downhill).”

Eric Meyer, vice president of local cycling organization Routt County Riders, the local International Mountain Bicycling Association Chapter, said earning a share of the $100,000 grant is a win for the community. Everyone pitched in, he said, and it came down to all of the social media shares, emails and a setup in Gondola Square with Steamboat Springs School District computers that asked passers-by to contribute their votes.

"That's what kept us in the game," he said. But the enthusiasm was already there.

"I think this town's pretty cycling oriented right now. There's a lot of motivation and a lot of things coming together at the same time that got everyone excited about it."

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The Bell spokesperson said the $100,000 will be divided up in a way that will allow all three projects to be completed. The Steamboat funds will go toward completing an expert jump line at the Bear River Bike Park this summer with trail crews and designers from Bell Helmets working alongside local volunteers.

In addition to the bike park, Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports earned a $10,000 donation from a Constant Contact voting contest on Facebook.

The ReTree Steamboat program also earned $5,000 in a Facebook contest through Alpine Initiatives.

Meyer said the programs all combined efforts and cross-promoted the contests, asking voters to contribute their voice to all three projects.

Julie Taulman, STARS executive director, said the Constant Contact donation was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"All we're asking for from our local community is support, not writing a check," she said. "We're a tight-knit community, and there's a bunch of nonprofits, and let's all help out and get this money to Steamboat."

She said the grant will go toward STARS' summer programs, including adaptive cycling and water sports for people with disabilities in addition to overnight camps for children.

The organizations that put online grant contests in the hands of communities earn exposure during these voting periods and some require email addresses and apps to vote.

But Taulman believes that Steamboat gets something out of it, too.

"To me, it's like looking a gift horse in the mouth," she said. "Why would we not help each other? It helps our community. We're getting marketing and PR for the programs and for Steamboat. The biggest thing is we're helping each other out."

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email

Online grants won

Bear River Bike Park, Routt County Riders: Share of $100,000 with two other bike trail projects from Bell Helmets

Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports: $10,000 from Constant Contact

ReTree Steamboat: $5,000 from Alpine Initiatives