Kahtoola for the People

How does an unlikely businessman start a company he can feel good about? For Kahtoola Owner and Founder, Danny Giovale, it began by doing more than just selling products. Afterall, Danny was a climber, and he just wanted to climb! So if he was going to start a business, it couldn’t just be another corporation aimed at maximizing profits. It had to be different.

A Positive Legacy

By the time he started designing his first set of hiking crampons, Danny had been on adventures around the world. And while the adventures themselves always began as the focus for Danny and his friends, they often took a backseat to stories about the inspiring people they met and the cultures they experienced along the way. For Danny, this was especially true of the Tibetan people and culture.

So, as he contemplated starting his own company, Danny decided he wanted to focus on people and the responsibility he felt to give back. And he wanted Kahtoola associates to be part of it.

1% for the people

With that in mind, the Kahtoola for the People program was born. And since day one, whether the company turned a profit or not, we’ve invested 1% of our revenue in helping empower others and giving them choices. Because we believe that people who are healthy, engaged, live in a healthy environment, and are able to provide for themselves and their families, are more likely to raise their voices and share their perspectives and experiences with the world in a positive way.

Twice yearly, organizations can apply for our Kahtoola for the People grants, and from those applications, recipients are selected by an advisory board made up of Kahtoola Associates. Through this process, our Associates have the opportunity to open their hearts and minds and go beyond their day to day work to positively impact people’s lives in a totally different way. And each of their unique perspectives brings a wealth of different ideas, inspiration and potential to the conversation.

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The Opport­unity to Empower

For more than two decades, we’ve had the opportunity to support many exciting programs that improve health, education and sustainable living practices all over the world. Grants from our Kahtoola for the People program have gone to amazing grassroots nonprofits, like Elevate Nepal, which helps give people in remote villages in Nepal the choice to stay connected to their families, communities and culture.

“Elevate Nepal has been working to support the Ananda Jyoti Agriculture School in Bengas, Nepal. It teaches students at a high school level traditional, sustainable agricultural practices, while also creating opportunities for employment, so those students can stay closer to home. Interest has grown over time and support from Elevate Nepal, and other sources, has allowed the school to hire more teachers and staff, purchase more land and obtain certification for college-level courses”.

– Betsy Harter, Kahtoola Associate & KFP Board Member

One example of the truly innovative ways Kahtoola for the People funds are being used is through the Snow Leopard Trust. The Trust works to protect snow leopards in South and Central Asia by finding ways to help them to coexist with the people that share their habitat.

“I found this to be a really cool project because it helps people to coexist with the snow leopards, rather than separating them. One of the issues people have with the snow leopards is that they kill their livestock. The program provides things like livestock insurance and training in other ways to make a living, allowing the people and leopards to share the same space”.

– Brad Lever, Kahtoola Associate & KFP Board Member

Much like in the Himalayas, young people in the Peruvian Andes are often forced to choose between staying connected with their families and culture and moving to larger centres in search of a better quality of life. Kahtoola for the People supports a nonprofit called Esperanca, which is working to change that.

“Esperanca is a special one for me. Often the younger people in remote villages are drawn to the cities for education or income and so most of the men of a certain age are absent, leaving the women to take on a lot of the daily labor work. The projects Kahtoola for the people has funded help give people the choice to stay. For example, building greenhouses that provide a sustainable source of food and that actually help heat people’s homes means that there is less need to travel in search of income”.

– Kelly Slutz, Kahtoola Associate & KFP Board Member

One New Education is another Kahtoola for the People recipient that empowers people by offering them choices they might not have otherwise.

“Through One New Education, we cover the school fees of three girls in Nepal. Often girls don’t have the option to go to school there, so what I love about this is it really gives them a path outside of their set gender norms. It gives them more of a say in their own destiny. One percent can seem like a small number, but when put to good use, it can have a huge, life changing effect on people”.

– Courtney Giauque, Kahtoola Associate & KFP Board Member

These are just a few of the recipients from more than twenty years of the Kahtoola for the People program. And we have no intention of slowing down! As we continue to grow, Kahtoola for the People grows with us.