Early this year staff members at the Independent brainstormed about what unique role we could play to help make Colorado Springs a better place to work, play and raise families. Out of these discussions, the Independence Community Fund emerged "to promote community building, civic participation and the incubation of needed, new (at least to our community), innovative programs designed to help meet our growing community's unmet needs." [See "Introducing the Independence Community Fund," Aug. 16]
This spring, a volunteer community board was formed to help guide what we anticipate will become an annual effort. In August we circulated a call for applications. To our surprise and amazement, nearly 90 nonprofits applied. After hours of review, our community board selected the following nine non-profits as our inaugural recipients:
All Pikes Peak Reads: Modeled on the enormously successful One Book/One Chicago initiative, the mission of this Pikes Peak Library District--sponsored program is to promote the reading and discussion of the same book at the same time throughout the community. The book they have chosen is Harper Lee's masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.
Big Brothers Big Sisters: With funds from the Community Fund, BBBS will launch "The Life Choices Initiative," a 15-week workshop for teenage girls struggling with the issues of sexuality, self-esteem, school, drugs, tobacco, alcohol, eating disorders, early parenting and self defense.
Court Care Project: Every month more than 500 El Paso County children sit in our courtrooms while family members seek a divorce, face criminal charges, serve on a jury or are called on to testify. The Junior League's Court Care Project is developing a safe, licensed drop-in child care facility so that parents feel secure in leaving their children while dealing with judicial matters.
FutureSelf: This empowering, intensive weekend workshop held at the Business of Art Center in Manitou provides at-risk youth (ages 12 to 18) with a chance to work with leading local artists in a setting designed to promote self-exploration, self-expression and community building.
Government Accountability Project: Citizens Project and Voters Network will work together to publish a factual, non-partisan directory outlining how local elected and appointed officials have voted on issues as well as describe how citizens can get involved in, and even appointed to, more than 50 local government boards and commissions.
Homeless Teens Initiative: Urban Peak Colorado Springs serves homeless and runaway youth by providing more than 150 local teens with a safe, caring, stable environment as well as training programs designed to help them permanently exit street life. The Community Fund will support their efforts to encourage homeless teens to earn their high-school diplomas.
Mighty Muse Writing Project: Launched earlier this year, Mighty Muse offers free creative writing workshops to local women recovering from homelessness, addiction, incarceration, domestic violence or other personal challenges.
Recycling in the Pikes Peak Region: Why have local recycling efforts declined in the past decade? Why are recycling rates in other Colorado communities higher than in Colorado Springs? What can be done to help increase our community's recycling efforts? These questions will be the focus of a Clean Air Campaign -- sponsored community-wide symposium, which will take place around Earth Day 2002.
Viviendo en Colorado Springs: Centro de la Familia has designed this innovative Spanish-language program to welcome recent Hispanic immigrants to our community and also to help them understand Colorado's domestic violence, child abuse, and drinking and driving laws.
These worthy non-profits will benefit from a 10-week ad campaign in the Independent as well as support from the Fund's media partners: Clear Channel radio (KKLI, K-MOM, KCCY and KVUU), ColoradoSprings.com, and Cukjati Design & Advertising.
These groups deserve your financial support [See pages 28-29]. Through a generous commitment from the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado, the first $25,000 donated to the Independence Community Fund will be matched dollar for dollar. And via the good offices of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, all administrative costs will be taken care of. This means that 100 percent of your donation to the Independence Community Fund will go directly to the non-profit groups you select -- and that your gift will likely be doubled by our matching challenge grants.
Please give as generously as you can with your tax-deductible donation, your time, or with needed in-kind gifts. Together, we can help these worthy nonprofits bring people toward independence and our community towards sustainability.