If you’ve heard CC students talking about receiving funding for outdoor adventures, it’s likely they were referring the school’s one-of-a-kind Ritt Grants, funded by the Ritt Kellogg Memorial Fund (RKMF). The following is a Q&A with RKMF Coordinator, Maura Hanning. Colby Coombs ’89, Ryan Hammes, current Outdoor Education Director, and Bo Parsons also contributed. So whether you’re just curious about this unique grant opportunity or are in the middle of writing your proposal, read on!


What is the mission of the Fund?

Ritt’s parents, along with Colby Coombs and other classmates and friends established the Fund with Colorado College during the winter of 1993 in honor of their son and friend, Peter Rittenhouse (Ritt) Kellogg Jr.  The mission of the Fund is to help Colorado College students promote imagination, challenge and personal growth in their own responsible and conscientious pursuit of wilderness expeditions and education. The mission is perpetuated through wilderness expedition grants, wilderness-skills education grants, environmental service, and wilderness-related resources for Colorado College.


What’s the story behind the Ritt Kellogg Memorial Fund?

Ritt Kellogg graduated from Colorado College in 1990 with a degree in philosophy. He loved wild places, both at sea and in the mountains. Whether skiing the Bugaboos, guiding on Denali, instructing for Outward Bound or planning sailing expeditions, Ritt lived with vision and drive. Ritt died tragically in an avalanche while he, Tom Walter, and Colby Coombs ’89 were topping out on the east face of Mt. Foraker in Alaska on June 18, 1992. Tom was also killed in the fall.


So in essence, the Fund has become a memorial to Ritt and his outdoorsy spirit?

The Kellogg Family, Coombs, and other founders really created a unique program within Colorado College Outdoor Education that is unmatched among colleges and universities in the U.S. From my perspective, the program works beautifully as a memorial for Ritt. I see and hear this in slideshow presentations every year when students mention the times they contemplated who Ritt was while on their trip, or presented a photo of carefully arranged rocks on a beach with Ritt’s name, or stopped by the memorial for Ritt on Hurricane Island, Maine.


Who comprises the Avisory Committee?

The Advisory Committee is appointed by Colorado College and composed of Ritt’s family and friends, CC staff, and CC alumni who are past RKMF recipients, as well as non-CC alumni. All are experienced mountaineers, outdoorsmen and women, outdoors educators, academics or accomplished managers from the private and non-profit sectors. You can read more about the members at http://www.coloradocollege.edu/other/rittkelloggfund/advisory-committee.dot


What are the minimum requirements for applicants?

The minimum criteria that must be met for the proposal to be considered include: trips must be wilderness-based and at least 12 days in the field; complete risk management and emergency evacuation plans; Minimum Impact Standards included; trip applicants must be currently enrolled CC students; the expedition dates must occur no later than eight months from graduation for seniors; Wilderness First Responder Certification must be current at the time of the trip; detailed First Aid kit list is required in the equipment list; no solo expeditions (not even day-solos); and, no recreational drugs or alcohol may be used on a Colorado College Ritt Fund-sponsored trip.

What characterizes a good proposal?

A good proposal provides complete answers to all the sections of the Group Application and Individual Questionnaires in a thoughtful and thorough manner. In particular it is critical to thoroughly describe the daily itinerary and risk management and emergency evacuation plans. In addition, it is important to demonstrate expedition-member readiness with wilderness-skills résumés that highlight relevant experience and training. If the application meets all the minimum trip criteria and the proposal leaves no questions or gaps about how the trip will be conducted and the experience of the team, the Advisory Committee will recommend that the College approve the grant. Expedition application approval rate has varied from 67 percent to 83 percent. We hope improvements made to the application process in recent years will achieve an approval rate closer to the 83 percent.


Do you have any tips for students who are in the process of writing a proposal?

Don’t underestimate how much time is needed to put together a thorough, carefully researched expedition application. Give yourself plenty of time to check and check again to make sure it is complete; a sloppy application gives the impression of a sloppy team not ready for an expedition. In particular, the Advisory Committee is acutely sensitive to any proposal that takes a casual approach to risk management. Don’t hesitate to contact Outdoor Education or me with questions!


When are the proposals due this year?

All proposals must be submitted by the first day of half block, Jan. 7, 2013. The submittal includes a complete hard copy delivered to Outdoor Education and an electronic copy submitted via PROWL.


When do applicants hear from the Advisory Committee with a decision?

Proposals will be reviewed during Block V at the Advisory Committee Annual Meeting. The Committee makes funding recommendations to Colorado College and the applicants receive notice from the College by the end of Block VI. After the expedition team turns in all grant-acceptance paperwork, the College awards the funding to each team-member.


Is there a maximum amount of funding that the Advisory Committee cannot exceed?

Expeditions are typically funded from $800-$1,500/person based on a variety of factors and do not exceed $1,500. The Advisory Committee looks carefully at each budget and may recommend to reduce the award if they find some items over-priced but they have never recommended denying a proposal based on the budget. In addition, even with the ups and downs of the economy, the Advisory Committee has not yet had to deny an expedition application based on insufficient funds.


How many proposals does the Advisory Committee typically receive in a year?

The Fund typically receives between 12 to 15 applications each year. Last year we only received 10 applications but in 2010 we received 18 applications; we hope this article inspires more students to apply.


What are some of the trips that have gone out that you most admired? Or most wanted to go on?

I admire all the trips; reading the post-expedition reports and seeing the slide presentations makes me wish I were on every trip (well, maybe not the bushwhacking ones). Some particularly creative trips from recent years that come immediately to mind include: ski mountaineering in the Selkirk Mountains; horse packing in the Gallatin Mountains; sea kayaking in the Haida Gwaii; rock climbing in the Bugaboos and the Wind River Range; sailing/rowing the coast of British Columbia in a home-made boat; fast and light on the Pacific Crest Trail; traversing the Arrigetch, Gates of the Arctic National Park; Climbing Mt Silverthrone, 4th highest peak in Denali National Park; and, Pack Rafting the Brooks Range above the Arctic Circle.


What can students use the education grants for?

Education grants are intended for those Colorado College students who have either received a RKMF expedition grant or plan to apply for a grant during their CC careers. Funding would ideally be sought by the expedition team but is also available for individuals. Training courses encouraged by the Advisory Committee include Leave No Trace, Bear Safety, Rock Climbing Anchors and Protection, Alpine Rock Rescue, Swift Water Rescue, Open Water Rescue, Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue, and Avalanche Education. Funding is available on a first-come, first-serve basis for 75 percent of the course registration fees, up to a maximum of $450 per person.

Kate Leaf

Active Life Editor

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