Giving Thought: Support local nonprofits on Colorado Gives Day | AspenTimes.com

Giving Thought: Support local nonprofits on Colorado Gives Day

Tamara Tormohlen
Giving Thought

Today is Colorado Gives Day, a statewide effort by Community First Foundation and First Bank to encourage charitable giving to nonprofit organizations. At Aspen Community Foundation, we also celebrate the efforts of nonprofit organizations working to improve the lives of youth and families from Aspen to Parachute.

ACF has a long history of supporting nonprofit organizations. Indeed, it is at the core of our work. We do this by connecting donors to issues they feel passionate about and through our annual grantmaking. Our donors make this possible, more than 400 of them — individuals, foundations, donor advised fund holders, businesses, board members, and our long-time partner, Aspen Skiing Co.

They count on us to continually assess community needs, to vet who's doing what and how well they're doing it, and to direct funding to the most effective organizations. Last Friday, ACF recognized 35 organizations through our 2017 Community Grantmaking program, the culmination of that rigorous process.

ACF's Community Grantmaking recipients are organizations that directly support our Cradle to Career Initiative — that all our children are ready for kindergarten, and all our students are prepared for college and career. We also fund organizations that are upholding the broader ecosystem that is integral to this vision. Where would we be without the fundamentals — access to justice, treatment for addiction, health and dental care, safe and healthy relationships and basic needs such as food and a roof over our head?

Our grant recipients this year can be grouped into three areas: essential services, securing the start, and youth engagement and support.

These organizations provide essential services for the community — ensuring that families have access to food, shelter, health care and treatment, promoting social justice, supporting victims of violence and building intercultural relationships.

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Alpine Legal Services, Catholic Charities and Lift-Up provide humanitarian assistance such as food, housing assistance and legal aid. The prevention of abuse and support for survivors are the purview of Advocate Safehouse Project, Response and River Bridge Regional Center. A Way Out supports people in drug and alcohol crisis, while the Aspen to Parachute Dental Health Alliance and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains provide access to health care and education. English in Action and Literacy Outreach bridge cultural divides by helping immigrants learn English and improve literacy skills.

Many in nonprofit organizations work to "secure the start" for our community's youngest residents. These groups are ensuring children, from birth to elementary school, are supported in healthy development and wellness, have enriching experiences and are provided learning opportunities to succeed.

Family Visitor Programs and Yampah Mountain High School Teen Parent Program help new parents support the healthy development of their children, while Raising a Reader Aspen to Parachute fosters early literacy bonds in children and families. Valley Settlement is helping immigrant families support the success of their children. Family Resource Center and Roaring Fork School Health Centers are connecting students and families with social, economic and health resources to meet their needs; Summit 54's Summer Advantage of the Roaring Fork Valley provides summer academic instruction. And, providing enriching experiences and learning opportunities are the focus of our region's early-education programs: Blue Lake Preschool, Growing Years Preschool, Mt. Sopris Montessori School, Our School, and Aspen School District Colorado Preschool Program.

Finally, in order for youth to be successful both academically and social-emotionally, they need to be engaged and feel supported. These organizations do this by offering enrichment opportunities, safe places, mentoring and leadership development for our youth.

Through mentoring, safe places and advocacy, the Buddy Program, Stepping Stones of the Roaring Fork Valley, and YouthZone are promoting positive outcomes for youth. Arts programs such as Art Base, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Andy Zanca Youth Empowerment Program and Roaring Fork Youth Orchestra also are engaging youth and supporting them. Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and YouthEntity are providing learning experiences so that young people have meaningful experiences that promote career development and leadership skills. Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club is also helping youth build character and challenge themselves through winter sports. And Access After School and Aspen Youth Center are filling that crucial time between school dismissal and parents getting home from work when students might be tempted to engage in risky behaviors.

These organizations are the champions for the community, the advocates for youth and families, and the believers in a better future. So today, on Colorado Gives Day, please "give where you live" and support one of these organizations — or any of the many other worthy nonprofits — serving the youth and families from Aspen to Parachute.

Tamara Tormohlen is the executive director of Aspen Community Foundation.

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