Archuleta County Education Center to receive $20,000 grant tonight

The Archuleta County Education Center, with the mission to foster responsible citizenship through programs of literacy, education, vocation, and life skills, is among 16 nonprofit organizations that will be recognized and rewarded with grants during a presentation tonight at the Strater Hotel in Durango.

The grants were recommended by the Southwest Regional Council of El Pomar Foundation. The council is made up of local community members, including Pagosa Springs’ Mary Jo Coulehan. Each year, the Southwest Regional Council recommends more than $180,000 in grants to trustees of Colorado Springs-based El Pomar Foundation.

The grant to Archuleta County Education Center will support a project to further substance abuse prevention in Archuleta County. The project — a partnership between the school district and community — will serve as an extension of the Regional Substance Abuse Prevention Program (RSAPP). RSAPP is a multi-year program for youth in Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, and San Juan Counties and at Fort Lewis College. Created by the Southwest Regional Council in 2006, it supports unprecedented regional collaboration in the fight against substance abuse.

“With the commitment of funds for a three year RSAPP project, we are grateful that the Southwest Regional Council invested in a bridge year to continue the success that we have been building for substance abuse prevention programs here in Archuleta County,” said Coulehan. “We appreciate the faith of the Southwest Regional Council in funding this large sum of money for one project.  It is imperative that more bridge programs are established in our communities to continue the work that we started with the RSAPP program,” Coulehan added.

In addition to substance abuse, the Southwest Regional Council identified childcare and secondary education as areas of interest.

Other Southwest Regional Council members include: Susan Lander, Music in the Mountains; Ed Morlan, Region 9 Economic Development District; Brad Bartel, Fort Lewis College; Chuck McAfee, Board Member, Southwest Memorial Hospital; The Honorable Jim Isgar, Colorado State Senate; Dan Fernandez, Dolores County CSU Extension Office; Lori Cooper, Montezuma County Health Department; Arnold Santistevan, Director of Education for the Southern Ute Tribe.

A total of $190,500 will be distributed to 16 southwestern Colorado organizations during this evening’s presentation. In addition to Archuleta County Education Center, grant recipients include: Fort Lewis College (serving as the fiscal agent for the Regional Substance Abuse Prevention Project, $75,000); Community Foundation of Southwest Colorado (Durango, $10,000); Durango Film Institute (Durango, $10,000); La Plata Youth Services, Inc. (Durango, $10,000); and Bayfield Early Education Center ($5,000).

Individual Council members also have the opportunity to designate outstanding service grants to organizations of their choice. Those grant recipients include: Southern Ute Community Action Programs (Ignacio, $2,500); Volunteers of America, Inc. (Durango, $1,500); Montezuma County Partners, Inc. (Cortez, $1,500); United Way of Southwest Colorado (Durango, $1,500); Alternative Horizons Corporation (Durango, $1,500); and Community Foundation of Southwest Colorado (Durango, $2,500). Before the presentation, representatives from different nonprofit organizations will participate in workshops conducted by El Pomar senior staff members. The workshops cover nonprofit board training and defining a nonprofit’s vision.

El Pomar Foundation is sponsoring similar events across the state in conjunction with eight other Regional Councils. In total, the nine Councils throughout the state recommended more than $1 million in grants. Council members also serve as advisers to El Pomar trustees when they consider requests for traditional grants from nonprofits located throughout the state. In 2008, 12 different nonprofit organizations in southwestern Colorado received grants from El Pomar, totaling $137,000. Since 2004, the Southwest Regional Council has recommended more than $560,000 in grants to local organizations.

“The Regional Councils are an invaluable resource when it comes to meeting our goal of providing support for the entire state of Colorado,” said El Pomar chairman and CEO, William J. Hybl. “The trustees rely on the expertise of council members in every region to make the kind of informed decisions that can have a meaningful impact in each community.”