When Micaela Ramirez and Stephanie Pasakarnas founded Poseiden Fund in 2005, there was a small, but growing, number of female skateboarders. However, there was an obvious lack of support and inclusion of females within the skateboarding industry, and this inspired Micaela and Stephanie to make a change early on.
Back then, compared to boys, there were very few spaces for girls to feel support and encouragement to develop their skills. The infrequent sponsorship from endemic brands, along with the lack of competitive outlets and community support, meant fewer opportunities for competition, sponsorship, connection with peers, and the potential to win monetary prizes and recognition.
Poseiden Fund’s initial mission for females was to address this lack of access and inclusion within skateboarding.
In the beginning, Poseiden Fund leveraged the media to increase representation of powerful females, bring parity to events, and change the mindset of society. By drawing many local, national, and international media channels, they were able to showcase the progression of females in skateboarding as well as community giving. In turn, these world-class female athletes served as mentors and role models who shared their life-changing experiences with local communities. By creating an event where female professional skateboarders demonstrated what is possible, attendees were inspired to reach for their dreams and to accomplish their goals.
Coordinating Dreams 2 Reality
In 2007, Micaela’s trusted friends and colleagues, world champion professional skater, Jen O’Brien, and female activist/entrepreneur, Angela Rabreau, joined the movement. Together they helped anchor the vision of Poseiden, applied for and received the 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, and formally changed the name to the Poseiden Foundation, Inc.
The small Board of Directors of the Poseiden Foundation felt it was crucial to continue expanding the space within the sport of skateboarding for both amateur and professional females.
Since conception, Poseiden Foundation’s vision always focused on the inherent empowerment of action sports, paired with raising awareness by breaking geographical, racial, and socio-economic barriers through their Humanitarian Outreach programs.
To achieve this, they coordinated international events designed to bring female professional skateboarders to developing countries, and the mission of Poseiden Foundation came to fruition: To inspire females to pursue their passion for skateboarding through empowerment, love, and support.
At the time, there were very few healthy female role models because the females mimicked the typical “bad boy” skater behavior. To counter this cultural stereotype, Poseiden Foundation cultivated a healthier female skater role by encouraging the event participants to give back to the community. They teamed up with local nonprofit organizations to help them with their missions. The participants were challenged to do something that was not about themselves. They experienced a human connection and began to understand the importance of giving back. They realized their impact, and how they too could make a better world. In addition, those in the community who witnessed their sports legends giving back to those in need were also inspired to help others. This became a two-fold lesson that everyone could apply in their local community.
Traditionally, international pro skater events were separated by gender. Events between females and males were not allowed. Events for females were required to happen at different times, separated by weeks. So Poseiden Foundation leveraged their pro skaters’ notoriety to demand that the events their skaters attended include males and females together. This broke down all the known barriers. Males showed up to support the pro females, and girls showed up to support the boys. This was the first step towards creating parity within the sport. Poseiden Foundation rectified the inequality of the cash prizes that males received compared to females by awarding the females high-value brand products. The winners considered the products to be more valuable than the cash prizes since many of the products were unavailable or rare in their country.
Before the U.S. pro skaters came, females were not covered on mainstream media in developing countries. For the first time, the local press showed up to cover the female events which were featured on skateboard magazines and television. Due to the high level of media exposure, U.S. female pros were getting recognized as skilled athletes and leaders of their community. This assisted in opening up opportunities for other female athletes in society. Local female skateboarders gained access to the skate and media industry that they had never imagined. They too started to be featured on the cover of skate magazines, and they gained both endemic and non-endemic sponsorships.
When the pro-female skaters traveled to the developing world, their eyes were opened to poverty, the struggle other females had, and that the community had as a whole. They were humbled and learned not to take their lifestyle and skate equipment for granted when they saw what other disadvantaged kids had.
The female pro skaters received media press and notoriety because in foreign countries they were thought of as legends, even though in the U.S. their talent was not fully acknowledged by endemic brands, the media, their male counterparts, and the public. ---DREAMS TO REALITY
Poseiden Foundation’s events have always served two purposes: first, to raise awareness of skateboarding, and second, to give skaters an opportunity to give back to the greater community. This dual purpose served to strengthen women and youth in their community, promote their sports community, and to help empowered females have the courage to reach out to humanity.
In 2008, Poseiden Foundation recognized a growing need for skate clinics locally in the U.S. Southwest and on Indian reservations, such as Pala. To expand their programs in the U.S., they implemented their international program model. They continued the precedent of bringing pro skaters into mixed gender events.
Poseiden Foundation’s first competition in the U.S., “Game of S.K.A.T.E.,” was held in 2008 with Wicked Wahine, in conjunction with the Upland Indoor Soccer Tournament, since many skaters played soccer as well. The same type of philosophy used by the Poseiden Foundation international programs was used, and both males and females were invited to participate.
Jen O’Brien took the initiative to contact her good friend, Steve Berra, founder of The Berrics, the iconic private skatepark in Los Angeles. Steve and Jen collaborated to begin events that included females. These events marked an historic turning point in opening the door to up-and-coming females in the skate world. This was the first time females had ever entered the iconic private skatepark as competitors. Females were invited to The Berrics to skate, and were then highlighted on the world famous Berrics online media outlet.
That year, Poseiden Foundation was also asked to be the official nonprofit for the “Chili Bowl” event in San Francisco, sponsored by Thrasher Magazine. Poseiden Foundation invited professional female athletes to skate in the competition to expand female attendance.
Influencing the Community
This was also the year Poseiden Foundation brought on their first advisory board members, Chris Murtagh, attorney, and Don Brown, skate industry influencer, to help guide and advise their progress. Since then, have added: Skateboard Legends: Laura Thornhill, Carabeth Burnside, and Jim Gray. Movement Educator & Education Specialist: Jamie Russo. Professional Photographer: Don Sheffler and Adaptive Skater: Tracie Garacochea. We also added an ambassador program with a mix of skateboarders and community influencers from 14 different countries within the USA, Latin America and Europe.
The Poseiden Foundation continued to be influenced by the needs of the local community, and under the advice of their board, they developed a female outreach program to inspire females throughout the education systems. They visited several elementary, middle, and high schools. They coordinated in-school and afterschool skate programs, and visited cultural nonprofit programs. They held skate clinics and demos. They also did motivational speaking engagements to empower females to develop their self-confidence, and to learn how skateboarding leads to a healthy, active lifestyle. After visiting many schools and organizations, they began to notice how their programs inspired and encouraged both females and males.
The Poseiden Foundation also led the way to initiate the first “Ladies Day” event at The Berrics. Female athletes from around the world attended. Poseiden Foundation’s aim was to empower girls to overcome their fears, feel supported by a group of like-minded skaters, and connect with a sense of community responsibility.
Expanding the Mission
In 2012, Poseiden Foundation saw the trend and greater need to serve both males and females, so they changed their mission to focus on including all youth, while other nonprofits were gearing towards solely female empowerment. Poseiden Foundation developed Dream Sharing Workshops after noticing how many schools locally in San Diego County, in Los Angeles, and from all over the globe needed to inspire and include all youth. During the workshops, pro athletes encouraged kids to find their passion and set goals through a facilitated ten-step process.
When Poseiden Foundation expanded their outreach programs in order to include the needs of more youth, they adapted their mission statement to match the impact of their ongoing work:
Poseiden Foundation inspires youth to pursue their passions and
accomplish their dreams while creating life-changing experiences
through Empowerment, Love, and Support.
At this time, Poseiden Foundation’s reputation for integrity was reaching other like-minded people in the surfing community. Poseidon Foundation was asked to be the official nonprofit sponsor for Pipeline Women’s Pro Surf event, and subsequently were asked to be their fiscal agent. They were also invited to be the female organization represented at Woodward Tahoe’s grand opening. Poseiden also assisted Amigos Skate Cuba and Exposure Skate as a fiscal agent in 2013 and 2014.
In 2014, due to the positive outcomes of the Poseiden Foundation youth empowerment programs like the Dream Sharing Workshops led by pro female athletes, more and more boys wanted to be involved because they saw other boys achieving their dreams. They were being inspired by female leaders to set their own goals and accomplish their dreams. At this time, Poseiden Foundation also began to work with children with disabilities, and spoke at different schools about their abilities. They joined a program called Abilities Awareness. This program highlighted people’s strengths within themselves, and teamed up with adaptive skater Katie Beatie.
In 2020, the Poseiden Foundation continues their groundbreaking empowerment programs for youth. Since the beginning in 2005, they have upheld a vision to empower females to give back to their communities. This in turn inspired males to accomplish their own goals by seeing females accomplishing theirs. Poseiden Foundation programs are unique in this way. Their commitment to inclusion, and their goal to empower youth to give back to their community, has shaped the vision they hold for the future of their programs.
They are continuing to pave the way by creating innovative skateboarding programs that are inclusive of both females and males to inspire one another, as well as the greater needs of the community. By keeping true to their roots, they have been able to successfully teach youth throughout the world that skateboarding is a vehicle that can help build milestone successes in their lives.
By using skateboarding as a platform of empowerment, Poseiden Foundation connects youth with like-minded peers, and teaches them how they can conquer their fears by believing in themselves. Poseiden Foundation inspires youth all over the world to pursue their passions, realize their dreams, and persevere to accomplish their goals.
launching united we skate
Therefore, in 2020, the board resolved to formally launch the campaign United We Skate. This campaign aims to: Raise awareness of at-risk youth and homeless children, and to change the mindset of society. Our focus is to ignite the passions they have within them and to build confidence and self-esteem by giving them a skateboard and conquering their fears. Our campaign goal is to give 100,000 skateboards to at-risk youth and reach out to 650,000 at-risk females, both within the United States and internationally.
Our vision behind the United We Skate is that together we can create a better future for our youth, and in turn, we will make a positive impact and change the world!