Foundation gives nearly $300,000 to local nonprofits |

Foundation gives nearly $300,000 to local nonprofits

Aspen Times Staff Repor

The Aspen Valley Community Foundation’s board recently gave $285,400 in grants to 22 local nonprofit organizations.

The Community Foundation awarded a three-year grant of $30,000 per year to support the start up of a new Teen Parent Program in the Garfield County School District, serving the Parachute and Battlement Mesa area.

This year’s grant of $30,000 was supported in part by $2,000 from the Marcie and Robert Musser Advised Fund and $500 from the Lynn Russell Advised Fund.

Although teen pregnancy has seen a national decline, the teen pregnancy rate for 13- to 17-year-olds has risen from 9 percent to 14 percent between 1990 and 2000 in Garfield County. Currently, there is a Teen Parent Program at Yampah Mountain High School in Glenwood Springs, but it is filled at capacity with 25 pregnant or parenting teens and their babies.

The need for services far exceeds what is available, said representatives of the Community Foundation. In 2002, there were 17 teen mothers in Parachute and 23 in Rifle, and only five attended the Yampah program.

“Due to the travel barrier and capacity limitations, many of our students are not able to take advantage of the Yampah Teen Parent Program in Glenwood Springs,” said Rhonda Dillon, coordinator for curriculum with the Garfield County School District. “We saw the need in our community for a similar program so that these young mothers can continue and complete their high school education.”

Students in the program will benefit by continuing high school and also receiving parenting education, she said. Additionally, their babies will benefit by attending accredited early childhood programs right next door to their mothers, allowing for mother and child to spend time together throughout the day and ensuring healthy attachment.

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