High Mountain Institute, Inc.

Where nature and minds meet

aka High Mountain Institute   |   Leadville, CO   |  www.hminet.org

Mission

The High Mountain Institute engages students with the natural world. Our school boldly unites rigorous intellectual inquiry, experiential learning, wilderness expeditions, and shared responsibility in a strong community. Our students realize their potential—as leaders, independent thinkers, and thoughtful citizens.

Ruling year info

1995

Principal Officer

Daniel O'Brien

Main address

531 County Rd 5A

Leadville, CO 80461 USA

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EIN

84-1306470

NTEE code info

Secondary/High School (B25)

Environmental Education and Outdoor Survival Programs (C60)

Recreational and Sporting Camps (Day, Overnight, etc.) (N20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

For many students, high school is a means to an end. They attend school because they have to, not because they feel that their education adds value to their lives. It is different at the High Mountain Institute (HMI). Here, students take ownership of their education by spending a semester living and learning in places that feel relevant and important to them. For many, their HMI semester ends up being the defining educational choice they make during their lifetimes.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

HMI Semester

The HMI Semester is is an academic and wilderness study-away program for motivated high school juniors and seniors. The HMI Semester is fully-accredited by the Association of Colorado Independent Schools.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

The HMI Summer Term is a five-week interdisciplinary program that combines academic enrichment and wilderness expeditions in the Colorado Rockies. The Summer Term is open to rising 10th, 11th, and 12th graders.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

The HMI Gap Semesters, for students ages 18-22, are traveling programs based in Patagonia and the American West. Participants chose from courses focusing on rock climbing, backpacking, and environmental conservation.

Population(s) Served
Students

The HMI Apprentice Program is a semester-long professional residency for recent college graduates in traditional classroom and outdoor education.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Awards

Re-Accredited for 10 Years (third time accredited) 2011

Association of Experential Education

Affiliations & memberships

National Association of Independent Schools - Full Member 2009

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Every student’s education should include skills necessary for success in today’s world. Below are some of these important outcomes that we hope our students carry into the rest of their lives, in addition to their academic achievements.

Growing strong leaders who can communicate through conflict. Because our students come from such diverse backgrounds, and because they live in close quarters in an intentional community, they have to learn what it means to communicate and resolve conflict with those who are different from themselves. In today’s culture, it has become too acceptable to talk past one another. Taking time to understand multiple perspectives and communicate thoughtfully about our own is not the norm. Yet, this is fundamental to problem solving and a better future. Having a diverse student body at HMI means that more backgrounds and viewpoints are represented, which means students learn to interact with people who are different from them. We teach communication and conflict resolution skills so students learn to confront challenges rather than run from them. A recent alumnus wrote his college essay about all he discovered confronting problems can do for relationships. He discussed a peer who annoyed him at the beginning of the semester. “At first,” this student wrote, “I simply planned to ignore the person for the rest my time at HMI, which is what I would have done at home. HMI, however, taught me how to work through my problems with this person, and we ended up becoming best friends.”

Creating independent thinkers who live with intention. Throughout their time at HMI, students are challenged to have “a why behind their what.” In the age of social media and online echo chambers, we teach our students to live with intention. While this ethos is woven into many aspects of student life at HMI, the place where this is most driven home is through our course titled “Practices and Principles: Ethics of the Natural World” (P&P). During this required class, we challenge students to think critically about the way in which they interact with, use, and conceive the natural world. At the end of the semester, they are asked to define their own environmental ethic. We guide them to apply this intentionality to all aspects of their lives, knowing that they will be making big life decisions in the near future as they think about life after high school.

Forming collaborators, not competitors. Competition too often dominates traditional high schools today. Everything is rank-ordered, from popularity to the number of AP courses a student takes. While competition is healthy, much of adult life requires far more collaboration. HMI teaches students how to do this. From cooking meals to finding camp at the end of the day, students discover they cannot succeed by one-upping peers. Those who work together in the backcountry do the same on campus. As one student recently wrote, “Here at HMI everyone seems to come together and try to solve (math) problems as

HMI is entering its third decade as a preeminent leader in inspiring confidence, teaching leadership, and supporting the academic growth of adolescents and young adults. We prepare our students to take risks, collaborate with peers, communicate with people who hold diverse perspectives, and build trusting, affirming relationships. We do this by engaging them with the natural world. By uniting wilderness expeditions with experiential learning and rigorous intellectual inquiry, we create an educational setting where our students can realize their potential—as leaders, independent thinkers, and thoughtful citizens.

We believe that when nature and minds meet, extraordinary academic and personal achievement often follows. While at HMI, students take courses that align with academic programs at their home schools, but not all of their learning happens within the four walls of a classroom. They spend approximately one-third of their semester backpacking in the mountains of Colorado and the canyons of Utah. This, along with living in communities of shared responsibility, creates the foundation for rigorous intellectual experiences. HMI will never be a "school with an outdoor program" nor a "wilderness program with academic classes;” there are plenty of such institutions in the world. Instead, HMI will always be uniquely located at the crossing between these two worlds: the place "where nature and minds meet."

By wholly merging wilderness expeditions and intellectual pursuits, HMI provides an education in skills sorely lacking in today’s world: our students learn to collaborate; they learn to communicate and problem solve with people from different backgrounds and perspectives; and they build deep, affirming relationships instead of superficial, social media-driven ones.

HMI is entering its third decade as a preeminent leader in inspiring confidence, teaching leadership, and supporting the academic growth of adolescents and young adults. We believe that our people and our place make the transformative HMI education possible. Each of our faculty members are equipped to lead multi-day wilderness explorations and are encouraged to "teach outside the box" in order to better connect with students of all learning styles. From our campus high in the Rocky Mountains to the wilds of Patagonia, HMI takes students into the wilderness and fosters communities of shared responsibility, thereby creating the foundation for rigorous intellectual experiences.

We have identified three critical areas that we believe will greatly strengthen our program in the coming years.

Creating strong leaders, independent thinkers, and thoughtful citizens.
We are focused on delivering on the outcomes outlined above, as this is at the core of our mission. We prepare ambitious, motivated students to take risks, collaborate with peers, communicate with people who hold diverse perspectives, and build trusting, affirming relationships. We cultivate independent thinkers who live with intention.

Fostering an increasingly diverse, inclusive, and equitable community.
So much of the learning that takes place at HMI happens not solely from strong classroom curriculum, but from working, living, and learning with people who have different life experiences and hold unique perspectives. Because of this, the more diversity we have in our community, the stronger our program will be. We also know that diversity on its own is not enough. We are working to become an increasingly inclusive and equitable community, where all students can feel safe to be their fullest selves. We are not naive to the fact that this work takes significant investment of time, money, and effort to see results and we are committed to seeing it through.

Caring for our community.
None of our outcomes will be possible if we do not take care of the faculty, staff, and facilities that create such a powerful program. That is why we are focused on improving our campus, as well as investing in our people through professional development opportunities, fair compensation, and strong work-life balance.

Financials

High Mountain Institute, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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High Mountain Institute, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 5/21/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mo Copeland

Oregon Episcopal School

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 05/21/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data