Six local nonprofits and two charter schools have been awarded a total of $46,521 in grants for young people from the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado.
The Sky is Green grant program was made possible by a generous donor who saw a need for experiential and outdoor learning for Montezuma County and Ignacio students in grades 5-12, said Tracy Pope, foundation grants manager.
“The programs chosen for grant awards by the funder cater to hands-on learning experiences and out-of-the-box creative thinking, like the Sky is Green,” Pope said.
This year’s recipients include:
Battle Rock Charter School: $4,750 to introduce a summer arts program in 2019.Community Radio Project: $4,500 to support The Sunflower Theatre Troupe and KSJD’s production of Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles.”Medicine Horse Center: $5,000 to enhance programs for young people working with horses to improve mental well-being.Montezuma Land Conservancy: $4,500 to expand programming in 2019 to engage more young people across Cortez.Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance: $10,000 to implement cultural heritage education at Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum.Southwest Colorado Open School: $5,000 for an experiential-learning fly-fishing program.The Piñon Project: $8,571 to support a Youth Empowerment Project After School Program.Another $4,200 was granted to the Dancing Spirit Community Arts Center in Ignacio to kick off a new program called Project heART.
Lynn Howarth, executive director of Medicine Horse Center, said the grant money helps to fund a Natural Leaders program for Cortez Middle School students who visit the center and work with the horses.
Through supervised interactions with the horses, the students learn how to work in the moment and communicate with one another face-to-face. They earn the horses’ trust, and learn that for the horse to follow, the student needs to be an effective leader.
“It’s fantastic to see them figure out how to work as a team with the horses in an outside environment and build confidence,” Howarth said. “For horses to engage, they need to feel trust and feel safe. The students learn that’s also a foundation for how people should be treating each other.”
Battle Rock Charter School will use its grant funding to provide local children ages 7-12 with more activities beginning next summer. The inaugural Children’s Chautauqua in Cortez is a two-week program that offers daily courses in graphic and visual arts, drama and voice.
“The program focuses on the arts with qualified instructors,” said Battle Rock lead teacher Justine Bayles. “The plan is to work toward a final theatrical play to show the community.”
Children’s Chautauqua is open to kids ages 7-12 countywide and will be held in Cortez at a site to be determined. There is cap of 40 children for the first year, with 10 to 15 in each instruction group who will receive five hours per day of instruction and hands-on art work.
“We saw that there is a need in the community for more summer programming for younger students, and the plan is to offer it every year,” Bayles said.
Matthew Keefauver, director of Southwest Open School, said he “stared in awe” at the generous $5,000 check in the mail from the Community Foundation to support teaching kids to fish.
“Our after-school fly-fishing program is meant to engage and enlighten our students as we strive to make experiential learning a priority,” he said. “This grant will go a long way in making a real difference in the lives of the kids we serve.”
The Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado works to increase success for nonprofits while maximizing effective grant making for philanthropists to make Southwest Colorado a better place to live, said Executive Director Briggen Wrinkle.
“We are excited to offer a boost to innovative education in rural Colorado,” she said.
The Community Foundation serves Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan counties. For more information on grant opportunities, visit its website at swcommunityfoundation.org