“I wanted to do something that was a collective good, to show kids that they can be good and do good things together and have good things happen,” says Todd Ingersoll, founder of Skate 4 Homies. It was a little over a year ago when Ingersoll had the idea to create a non-profit organization focused around the preservation of skateboarding through youth mentoring programs. “Really, what [Skate 4 Homies] is all about is giving back, doing the community a service,” says Ingersoll.
In 2000, Ingersoll moved to Salt Lake City in pursuit of a professional snowboarding career. He spent the next three years snowboarding and working at the Snowbird Mountain School before a slew of injuries pushed him out. For seven years, Ingersoll ignored his lifelong passions of skateboarding and snowboarding to make a living in construction. “I looked back at seven years of hustling in the construction industry trying to make a living and I thought, I’m not skateboarding anymore, I’m not snowboarding anymore. I’m not doing anything I did for nearly three-fourths of my life. I’m wasting my life by not enjoying this stuff,” he says.
In March 2010, Ingersoll sat in his garage staring at an old pile of skateboards, thinking of how he could get out of construction and reconnect with skateboarding. “The skate company and clothing company thing has all been done before,” says Ingersoll. “It seems like everyone in the industry wants to make money, be on top and be the man. I wanted to do something that gave back and be the man that way.” He thought starting a non-profit would give him a chance to reconnect with skateboarding and give back to the community at the same time. From that moment on, he started building towards launching Skate 4 Homies.
Using his own money, he rounded up 30 brand-new skateboards and started searching for an existing foundation to partner with. Unfortunately, because he did not have the appropriate tax codes and government paperwork filled out, his initial attempts were immediately shut down. “I could get a contracting license tomorrow and blow somebody’s house up, but to help people is a ridiculous deal. It’s like a secret society,” says Ingersoll.
Not one to let others thwart his efforts, he kept searching for an organization that wanted what he had to offer. Eventually, it was Kim Thomas, the program manager at Youth City, that took a liking to Ingersoll’s proposal. Youth City is an inclusive after-school development program working with mostly middle-to low-income youth. “Skate 4 Homies’ goal is the same as ours, and that is to work with kids. They are amazing—I’m glad I said yes,” says Thomas. According to Ingersoll, Youth City wasn’t immediately concerned about the lack of tax codes and paperwork. Anything he wanted to incorporate was a go with Youth City. They just wanted him to show up and implement skateboard culture, along with technique and safety, to the kids. “Much of Youth City’s programs are based on sequential skill building, and skateboarding is exactly that. It’s a task that requires the kids’ attention. They have to be focused, in the moment. They have to know what skills they have and don’t have—they can’t fake it,” says Thomas.
Thus, the foundation’s partnership with Youth City was formed. Youth City helped introduced Skate 4 Homies into the community of non-profits, while covering them under their insurance. The partnership presented Ingersoll and his foundation the opportunity to reach out and help the kids he was seeking. “I want to give these kids focus and give them a drive, to have them realize no matter what background you have or what financial situation you come from, you can do well in skateboarding,” says Ingersoll.