On Monday, May 23, more than 50 people converged at the Ouray 4-H Conference Center in Ridgway, Colorado. El Pomar Foundation’s San Juan Regional Council organized an Education Symposium to bring together community leaders, early childhood nonprofit staff, and local funders. The symposium was part of the Council's continuing effort to help nonprofits achieve results by creating new opportunities for cooperation.
The numerous stakeholders spent the day networking and connecting, prompted and inspired by speakers and panelists that included Marcia Neal, vice chairman of the State Board of Education; Tim Foster, president of Mesa State College; and Susan Steele, executive director of Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation.
In response to the event, several council members reflected on their takeaways and thoughts for the future:
“It was a nice balance of networking and content for both the nonprofits and us,” said Paul Major, president and CEO of the Telluride Foundation. “For the Council, it reinforces my belief that we need to focus on outcomes with our grants. I think we are on the right track to narrow in on early childhood grants that lead to school readiness and youth mentoring grants that lead to some agreed outcome.”
Kay Alexander, former executive director of the Dolphin House Child Advocacy Center, appreciated the opportunity to network with other early childhood organizations. “I have heard from people who attended that it was a ‘treat’ to be with Delta school people, the Backpack Program folks, and Pinhead Program at lunch and hear their perspective on how to survive in these economic times and actually do some positive problem solving.”
“My main takeaway is that solving problems--school readiness, retention at the post-secondary level, etc.--takes a multi-sector approach,” said Noelle Hagan, former mayor of Montrose. “We must keep talking to one another.”
“It was great to see organizations collaborate and discuss the similar issues affecting each one of them,” said Brandon Rattiner, the San Juan Regional fellow. “The opportunity to hear about the current events shaping the education world from key leaders like Marcia and Tim helped clarify future Council goals while also reaffirming our initial strategy.”