Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
KAYA, a newly formed digital platform company for climbers, has helped raise over $38,000 for The Brown Ascenders. The fundraiser, which was launched on June 19, was a part of KAYA’s “The Climber’s Pledge,” a commitment to confront racism and stand with the Black Lives Matter movement. The pledge has since garnered over 900 signatures.
Originally founded in 2018, KAYA is the newest name for two connected platforms: Plastick and Kaya, the climbers app. Both platforms are used by over 100 gyms located world-wide and cater to gym climbers—enabling setters to keep track of routes and new sets, and climbers to share beta and monitor training progress. KAYA hopes their products will not only foster community growth, but also acknowledge areas in need of improvement.
KAYA’s Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Kimberly Ang told Gym Climber: “At the start of the recent Black Lives Matter movement, we went through a series of exercises—really examining our mission, our purpose and what we, as a platform stood for. But then beyond that, what we can actually do to affect change using our product and the community we build through it.”
Ang said the first steps were internal. Then, through The Climber’s Pledge and other initiatives, KAYA worked to bring light to those DEI conversations. KAYA’s CEO, Austin Lee, signed the Outdoor CEO Pledge as a promise to work toward a more diverse and inclusive workplace and community. A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Adviser was hired to guide KAYA’s strategies and initiatives. And recently, KAYA organized and facilitated a presentation and panel discussion focused on creating anti-rasist climbing spaces.
Partnering with The Brown Ascenders, founded by Summer Winston and Darrick Brody, was a natural step. “For us to begin doing the work, we absolutely need to be doing that in service of the missions and the expertise that they’ve [The Brown Ascenders and other climbing affinity groups] already developed by doing this legwork over the years,” said Ang.
As of publishing, KAYA has helped raise over $18,000 for the Brown Ascenders. With the help of an anonymous donor, who matched the first $10K in a 2:1 ratio, the total was brought to over $38K. The Brown Ascender will use the money for future events and clinics that empower climbers of color.
KAYA’s partnership with The Brown Ascenders is just the first of more to come, according to Ang. “Our goal is to really become the digital home for climbers and crews and ultimately the whole climbing community. It’s so important we are able to anchor that community in inclusivity and we’re grateful to have this right at our beginning” she said.