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Celebrating 80 Years - WiFi for Westcliffe, 2015, Upper Arkansas Regional Service Council

Tags: Regional Partnerships #Celebrating80Years

Riders complete the 2015 Ride the Rockies in Westcliffe

#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and the people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.

Throughout rural Colorado, access to fast and reliable internet can be an important driver of economic development and regional vitality. In 2015, the Central Peaks Regional Council recommended a matching grant to help bring broadband access to Westcliffe in advance of the Ride the Rockies bike race.


Grantee Spotlight: Upper Arkansas Regional Service Council

The Upper Arkansas Regional Service Council was established in 2007 to provide quality services to promote self-sufficiency and healthy lifestyles for the benefit of families and individuals in Fremont, Chaffee, Custer, and Lake Counties. The area is part of El Pomar’s Central Peaks region.

The county seat of Custer County is Westcliffe, a mountain town of approximately 600 people. In June 2015, Westcliffe hosted “Ride the Rockies,” a landmark Colorado bike race that was expected to bring more than 2,000 riders and tourists to the town. In order to effectively support the event, Westcliffe needed to improve its broadband internet access to enable visitors and participants to effectively share photos or race updates, and communicate with support teams. Another important need for internet during the event came from vendors, who would otherwise be unable to sell food, drinks, and memorabilia using credit card readers that connect to smartphones.

El Pomar's Central Peaks Regional Council

In anticipation of these needs, the Upper Arkansas Regional Service Council worked with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, the Colorado Fiber Community, and county governments to bring broadband internet services to Westcliffe. El Pomar’s Central Peaks Regional Council recommended a $25,000 matching grant for the project and the installation was ultimately completed in time for the Ride the Rockies race, allowing for a successful and exciting event.

The establishment of broadband service and its initial infrastructure in 2015 has continued to pay dividends for Westcliffe and surrounding areas in the years since, as expansion of services is both easier and less expensive. Today, communities throughout the Upper Arkansas area continue to work for improved access to fast and reliable internet, knowing that increased access creates significant benefits for the region’s economic development and vitality.

El Pomar in 2015

The Foundation granted $9.3 million to more than 800 organizations in 2015. Unique grants included $44,000 to the National Alliance on Mental Illness Colorado Springs chapter as they expanded youth-focused mental health education and support services, $222,000 for El Pomar Nursing Scholarships at Adams State University, and $30,000 to support the construction of single family homes as part of the Kit Carson Rural Development project. El Pomar also continued to expand its community stewardship programs with the establishment of the Pikes Peak Heritage Series.


Spotlight by Erin Kerr

Ride the Rockies Image Courtesy of  Sally Seck, The Daily Record