Youth Outreach in an Outdoor Wonderland

Group of kids skiing

Just as many people find that their chosen career is just a stop on their path, many organizations also evolve over time, finding a greater purpose. This was the case for the Loppet Foundation. In 2002, the City of Lakes Loppet started as a cross-country ski race in Minneapolis, from Theodore Wirth Park to the Chain of Lakes. The following year, the race grew to nearly 800 skiers despite poor snow conditions.

The growing ski race, combined with a shared love of the outdoors and public parks, led to the formation of the Loppet Foundation. Based in Minneapolis’ Theodore Wirth Park, the Foundation began partnering with the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board to enhance the area’s winter recreation infrastructure. It also launched a youth ski program (now called the Minne-Loppet) for about 100 elementary students in North Minneapolis.

Over the years, the ski race grew into the City of Lakes Loppet Festival, which now attracts more than 11,000 participants to more than 27 events, including the ever-popular Luminary Loppet. And, events became year-round with the addition of trail running events in the spring and fall and an off-road triathlon in the summer.

The Loppet Foundation’s youth programming experienced parallel growth. In 2017, the Loppet Foundation has partnerships with 16 Northside schools. The Minne-Loppet program now serves more than 1,000 students each year. The Junior Loppet gets between 75-100 6th, 7th and 8th graders outside and active through year-round after school and summer programming. And, the Loppet Foundation provides individualized support to about 60 high school students who want to pursue outdoor activity. Beyond improving health, the programs empower students with critical life skills like self-mastery and resilience.

Today, the Loppet’s mission is to create a shared passion for year-round outdoor adventure in the Minneapolis area, focusing on underserved youth and families. In the coming years, the Loppet Foundation will continue to focus on youth outreach and enhanced recreation offerings in Wirth Park. In partnership with the Park Board, the Foundation is building “The Trailhead,” a 14,000 square foot welcome center in Wirth Park that will provide much needed public gathering space. It will also serve as the base for many of the Loppet Foundation’s outdoor activities, including its youth outreach programs.

Since that first ski race in 2002, the Loppet Foundation’s love of winter sports has evolved into a movement to foster a community passion for year-round outdoor adventure.


Learn more about the Loppet Foundation and get involved here: loppet.org

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