SW Council Embarks on New Multi-Year Funding Opportunity:
In May, Rural Philanthropy Days (RPD) came to southwest Colorado, exactly when the Council wanted to explore potential focus areas. After conversations, connections, and workshops during the three-day meeting, the Council narrowed its focus to early childhood care and education. RPD’s role in the decision was not only serendipitous, but a testament to the value of RPD in generating momentum and awareness for rural Colorado’s needs. More importantly, this decision demonstrates the Councils' ability to swiftly respond to the most pressing needs of the region.
In August, the Council convened eight leaders in early childhood care to discuss challenges and opportunities in the region. The group identified a lack of affordable spaces at licensed childcare providers for toddlers and infants and a shortage of qualified caregivers as primary concerns. Every county, with the exception of San Juan, has long waitlists at licensed childcare sites and experiences a shortage of qualified caregivers. Though access to spaces is the main challenge within early childhood care and education, expanding the pool of quality certified caregivers in the region could create more spaces in the future. The region has two Early Childhood Councils, which provide training, resources, and partnerships for certified caregivers.
The Southwest Council’s success has been a union of serendipity and strategic action. The Council’s willingness to listen, the team’s ability to act quickly when presented with an opportunity, and the community’s engagement all play into improving life in this remote area of the state. At the December 2014 Trustee’s Meeting, the Southwest Regional Council was pleased to recommend a $100,000 grant to expand the early childhood system, strengthen existing relationships between providers, and increase the quality and accessibility of early childhood programs in all five counties. This will include capacity expansion, hiring a regional collaborative coordinator, use of a regional coach/consultant, and stipends to support continuing education for early childhood professionals. While this grant is directed to the Early Childhood Council of La Plata County, the project and implementation will be a collaborative effort, the roles of which the strategic plan will help fully define.
Regional Council Members
President/Chief Investment Officer and Trustee, El Pomar Foundation
Operating Manager, Pagosa Verde, LLC
Superintendent, San Juan County School District #1