High School Snowboarder's Nonprofit Pitch Wins Her Free Tuition at UVM | True 802 | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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High School Snowboarder's Nonprofit Pitch Wins Her Free Tuition at UVM

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Published May 1, 2024 at 10:00 a.m.


Pitch Challenge winner Pippa Scott - COURTESY
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  • Pitch Challenge winner Pippa Scott

A high school snowboarder has earned a scholarship to the University of Vermont after winning a business pitch challenge for her nonprofit, which helps athletes overcome the mental health pressures associated with highly competitive sports.

Pippa Scott, a 17-year-old junior at Killington Mountain School, beat nearly 150 teams from seven countries and 27 states to win the inaugural Vermont Pitch Challenge. She started her nonprofit, Ride for Mental Health, in 2022 after the suicides of three friends.

The nonprofit raises money to fund suicide-prevention programs for coaches. Scott travels around the U.S. speaking at athletic events about her own experience with mental health challenges, including an eating disorder. Scott, who grew up in Killington and Mendon, also interviews professional athletes on a podcast about how mental health has affected their lives.

"It's to try to normalize struggling," Scott said. "It's important to get the help you deserve."

The Vermont Pitch Challenge attracted more than 220 students in all. On April 4 at UVM, Scott pitched her nonprofit to a panel of judges. She beat finalists from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, Pennsylvania and New York.

The challenge, organized by undergraduate admissions and the university's entrepreneur club, was the first UVM has held for high school students.

The grand prize was for four years' free tuition, though Scott isn't sure whether she'll attend UVM. She's also applying to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and hopes to become a naval pilot.

She said showing young people that the athletes they idolize don't have perfect lives encourages those who are struggling to reach out for help. Later this month, she'll attend a wellness fair at a high school in New York's Hudson Valley, where she'll spend the day leading students through meditation and other activities.

"At the end of the day, I'll talk about my own experience and let them know that no matter what, they always have someone to talk to, as long as I am here," Scott said.

For more information, visit rideformh.org.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Mental Fitness"

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