Above: Bevara cofounders Sarah Brondum (MechEngr'19) and Spencer Wegner (CompSci'20).
Sarah Brondum and Spencer Wegner co-founded Bevara to help outdoor enthusiasts connect with Colorado’s outdoor nonprofits. Through Bevara’s web platform, users are able to find donation, volunteer and advocacy opportunities that contribute to land stewardship efforts across the state.
What inspired you to start Bevara?
Over the past several years outdoor recreation has increased tremendously, and we’ve seen our outdoor spaces get busier and more crowded. We’re thrilled that more people are getting outside, but land managers like the U.S. Forest Service and local parks departments are consistently underfunded and struggle to maintain our public lands. Therefore, land managers often rely on nonprofits to contribute resources such as volunteers, skilled staff and equipment. In turn, outdoor nonprofits need support from their community in order to carry out projects and further their mission. On average, one third of nonprofits’ funding comes from individual donations, and a majority of the work is done by volunteers.
We are very grateful to be able to hike, ski, climb, run and bike in our great outdoors. Outdoor recreation has played a large role in our lives, and we would love to share these activities with our friends and family for years to come. We started Bevara to get more people involved in outdoor stewardship and to help preserve our public lands for future generations.
What is unique about your site, and how does it help people get involved in outdoor stewardship?
Bevara is a website that connects outdoor enthusiasts to outdoor nonprofits based on their philanthropic interests, the places where they recreate, and their favorite activities. The site filters events and opportunities based on their preferences so members can quickly get involved with organizations that are relevant to them.
As an example, for a climber in Boulder who is willing to volunteer their time, they will most likely see a volunteer event from the Boulder Climbing Community on their feed. Or, if a family in the Denver area would like to bring their kids to their first volunteer event, they can find one from Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. Both of these nonprofits are on Bevara already, and we’re constantly adding more.
By matching outdoor enthusiasts with their interests, we help outdoor nonprofits extend their reach, raise money, recruit volunteers for their projects and ultimately make a larger impact on the communities they serve.
How have your experiences at CU and living in Colorado shaped your views on outdoor stewardship?
We both grew up in the Colorado Springs area and have been exploring the outdoors for as long as we can remember.
Spencer: I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy the outdoors since I was a little kid. I have been volunteering in North Cheyenne Cañon Park in Colorado Springs since I was 13, and I’ve worked on several trail projects with local friends groups and organizations like Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. Through all of my outdoor adventures I’ve developed an understanding and appreciation for the land managers and organizations that take care of our public lands.
Sarah: I grew up hiking, trail running and skiing. In college I got involved in the outdoor industry, working in ski manufacturing and in the patrol department of a ski resort. I recognized the positive impact my chosen sports had on my life and understood the need to preserve our public lands so everyone who wants to can benefit from them.
At CU Boulder, we met during our business minor capstone course. Our shared passion for and desire to preserve the outdoors as well as our mixed skill sets made us a natural team. We conceived the idea of Bevara in the classroom and brought it to life post-graduation.
What’s next for Bevara?
We are working on expanding the capabilities of the website and getting more nonprofits and outdoor enthusiasts on the platform. Our goal is to make Bevara easy to use and accessible for everyone in the outdoor community. Our immediate next steps are to build a mobile application and streamline the donation process. In the meantime, we encourage all outdoor enthusiasts to create an account and explore the opportunities already on the platform. Any questions, comments or suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.