Local nonprofits are filling in the gaps to make sure students get the resources they need for school and life success.
Impact on Education implements and supports programs and resources where Boulder Valley School District lacks the funding, while A Precious Child ensures basic needs are met through its resource centers and help with navigation of other resources.
“We’re really about supporting students in the local community,” said Allison Billings, executive director of Impact on Education in Louisville. “We make sure they can fully engage in everything a great public education can offer them.”
Impact on Education raises several million dollars a year to provide supplemental funding and resources to students and educators in BVSD, addressing economic and learning barriers that curtail success. The foundation, founded in 1983, partners with BVSD to address unmet needs in three categories, that of early learning, student success, and college and career readiness.
“Unfortunately Colorado schools are pretty dreadfully underfunded,” Billings said. “There’s always needs that go unmet. If we can’t make the investments, kids would go without.”
The foundation raised $150,000 for Kinder Bridge, a kindergarten readiness program that provides six weeks of learning and play to help transition students into Kindergarten. In the fall, the foundation provided low-income students in both BVSD and St. Vrain Valley School District with 8,000 school supply-filled backpacks through the Crayons to Calculators program. And during the school year, the foundation’s Career Readiness Academy provides low-income BVSD high school students with workforce and networking skills, training, and leadership development and connects them to job opportunities.
“We’re really focused on the students that face the most serious obstacles,” Billings said. The foundation invested $250,000 in grant funding for student, classroom and school needs, giving out more than 70 grants last year for things like tutoring, books, equipment, and field trip fees.
“We are putting extra dollars to work in a targeted way,” Billings said. “Public education is a great equalizer and all kids should get a great education.”
A Precious Child in Broomfield works with more than 540 partner agencies in the Denver metro area to help children and families facing difficult life challenges, such as abuse and neglect, crisis situations and poverty. The counties covered include Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson and Weld.
The nonprofit’s core program, Cradle to Career, aims to break the cycle of poverty by reducing socioeconomic inequalities, connecting disadvantaged and displaced children with resources, services and educational support. The work is done through its Empowerment Center, where case managers help children and families with food assistance, housing referrals, mental health referrals, and utility assistance.
“We provide wrap-around services to all of our clients,” said Danica de Jong, marketing director of A Precious Child. “It’s not just one thing, it’s many. … We want to be there from the beginning to help the child navigate through life and (become) ready to enter the workforce.”
Cradle to Career is broken down into five Economic Mobility Initiatives, those of child and family advocacy, family stability, academic success, social and emotional wellbeing, and workforce development. The initiatives contain 11 programs, such as Precious Essentials listed under the family stability initiative. Precious Essentials gives children and families access to clothing, toiletries and home goods at a resource center and more than 50 satellite resource centers in schools, shelters and human services agencies.
In 2021, the five initiatives provided assistance to 52,000 people, and since the nonprofit’s inception, 405,000 people.
“It’s not just about education, it’s all those other things,” de Jong said. “We cover all aspects of a child’s development through adulthood. … Our 11 programs can be 11 different nonprofits.”
Milk Caps for Moola
Don’t forget about Milk Caps for Mooola. The program is sponsored by Longmont Dairy and helps students earn money for their school and students. Longmont Dairy milk caps are worth 5¢ each and are redeemable for cash by participating schools only. Participating is easy as 1-2-3! First, drink Longmont Dairy Milk. Second, save the bottle caps. And finally, bring your milk caps to school and put them into the collection box in your classroom. For more information on how the program works, visit: longmontdairy.com/milk-caps-for-mooola.
By Shelley Widhalm for Raised in the Rockies