Town Talk: Council approves $125,000 in grants for local organizations
Review process examines specificity, relevance of applications
Twenty-seven applications, $198,000 in requests and just $125,000 to divvy out: It’s no easy feat determining which local groups receive grant funding (and how much funding they’ll receive) from the town of Snowmass Village.
Year after year, town staff and officials find a way; council approved this year’s allocation to 25 health and human services organizations at its March 1 regular meeting.
The Citizen’s Grant Review Board recommends to the Snowmass Village Town Council how local grant monies should be distributed; they met Feb. 17 to discuss the applications, but council had the final say in approval March 1.
There was no question about the need for grant funding, especially after a year defined by the impacts of COVID-19.
“In this time of the COVID pandemic, we saw the work that many of our local organizations are doing to help,” said Judy Clauson, chair of the advisory board. “Need, as you know, has dramatically increased in the health and human service areas. … The board was in favor of grants to these service organizations to the fullest extent possible, given our resources.”
All told, 12 of the 25 organizations granted funds will receive the full amount they requested; to meet the budgeted funds, most other applicants will receive less than requested — some by several hundred dollars, others by several thousand. Two applicants, Aspen Sister Cities and Aspen Public Radio, will not receive any grant funding.
Applicants must be health and human service agencies that provide services “regardless of the client’s ability to pay” or nonprofits that “address community problems and/or enrich the quality of life for residents of Snowmass Village,” according to grant criteria.
This year, recipients spanned a number of sectors within that criteria, including mental health, youth services, senior services, education, community outreach and food distribution.
The town of Snowmass Village awarded a total of $125,000 to 25 organizations for this year’s community grant cycle.
Challenge Aspen: $2,000 for general operating support; received full amount requested
WindWalkers Equine Assisted Learning and Therapy: $1,500 for scholarships for riders and community partners; requested $2,500
Anderson Ranch Arts Center: $5,000 for programming to be determined; requested $15,000 for a Hispanic Heritage Month Activation
Snowmass Village Outreach Committee: $5,000 for community outreach; received full amount requested
The Caring Connection at Snowmass Chapel: $2,000 for program operations; requested $3,000
Junior Achievement of the Roaring Fork Valley: $500 for a financial literacy program; requested $2,000
Little Red Schoolhouse: $7,500, no specific program identified in town documents; received full amount requested
Raising a Reader Aspen to Parachute: $1,000 for Snowmass Village programming; received full amount requested
Harvest for Hunger: $4,500 for food rescue; requested $40,000
The Farm Collaborative: $3,000 for FarmPark and associated programs; requested $10,000
Alpine Legal Services: $6,000 for civil legal aid; requested $7,500
A Way Out: $7,500 for addiction recovery engagement; received full amount requested
Aspen Hope Center: $7,500 for therapy scholarships; received full amount requested
Response: $3,000 for support services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse; received full amount requested
Community Health Services, Inc.: $18,000, no specific program identified in town documents; requested $20,000
Colorado Wild Public Lands: $1,500 for a public lands education initiative; received $3,000
Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers: $2,000 for trail maintenance and restoration in Snowmass Village; requested $2,500
HomeCare and Hospice of the Valley: $15,000 for unfunded services and charity care; requested $16,000
Pitkin County Senior Services: $1,500, no specific program identified in town documents; received full amount requested
Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club: $9,000 for scholarships for Snowmass Village youth; requested $9,500
Aspen Youth Center: $10,000 for out-of-school-time programs; requested $11,000
Project Graduation for Aspen High School Class of 2021: $500 for 2021 programming; requested $2,000
River Bridge Regional Center: $1,500 for general operations; received full amount requested
Snowmass Chapel’s Camp SMashBox: $6,000 for camp operations; received full amount requested
YouthZone: $4,000 for Snowmass Village diversion programs; received full amount requested
Specificity in the application was, in some cases, the key to success: conversations during the mid-February board meeting indicate the board appreciated grant applications that quantified their reach in Snowmass Village and gave detailed explanations of how funds could be used.
Need — both of the organization and of the people who the applicant serves — also weighed on the decision.
Aspen Public Radio got the short end of the stick in that department: The organization requested $2,500 but received no funding, a decision prompted by the fact that “there are so many other needs and they have access to other sources of funds,” Clauson told council March 1.
Aspen Sister Cities faced a similar fate, requesting $5,000 but receiving none. A grant rationale sheet included in the March 1 council agenda indicates that there were “more pressing needs” at this time; the organization’s application “did not mention their current plans in the face of the pandemic and travel restrictions,” Clauson said.
“If someone can help them, it’s a worthy organization,” she said. “A more targeted and compelling application” would make a difference.
Council was by and large receptive to the board’s recommendations at the March 1 meeting — with a couple of notes.
The board approved $5,000 for Anderson Ranch Arts Center but wanted to include a stipulation that the funds go toward operating funds rather than a new program for a three-year Hispanic Heritage Month Activation for which the town would be the sole source of funding over a three-year period.
But Councilman Bob Sirkus wanted more specificity to that recommendation; the town will work with Anderson Ranch to find the best way for the grant to be allocated.
The lack of funding for Aspen Sister Cities also was met with some pushback. Although the organization is not running its typical international travel exchanges due to COVID-19, Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk noted that the group still offers virtual exchanges that provide “a great mental health outlet” for students. Shenk represents the town of Snowmass Village as a member of the Sister Cities board and a liaison between the group and council.
“It was upsetting that no grant money was awarded to Sister Cities,” she said. “We have to make sure that we maintain our commitment to them.”
Rather than reallocate some of the grant monies to Sister Cities, council and town staff decided on a membership model instead, in which they will contribute funds to the organization from another part of the town budget.
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