Special Initiative Grants are designed to allow the Foundation Board to act proactively and support larger or long-term projects, such as a capital campaign, real estate purchase, or strategic or innovative new community initiative. Special Initiative Grants are sponsored by board members of the Foundation and presented directly to the Board for consideration. The Telluride Academy's application to support its purchase of a commercial condominium to be used as the organization's year-round administrative office and operational headquarters was sponsored by Telluride Foundation Board Members Bridgitt Evans, Megan McManemin, and Kevin Holbrook. "We are thrilled to receive this Special Initiative Grant" said Elaine Demas, Telluride Academy's Executive Director. "These funds, combined with substantial lead donations from our Telluride Academy Trustees and Board of Directors, have provided us with a fantastic place to begin our $300,000 campaign this upcoming spring. The Foundation's special initiative money will be used as a matching grant throughout our campaign" continued Demas. "It's every nonprofits dream to own its own home, and this Special Initiative Grant will help the Academy realize that dream. We are so grateful."
Founded in 1980, the mission of the Telluride Academy is to provide children and teens with enriching, experiential programs that span the globe. From its beginnings as a small backyard day camp 32 years ago, the Academy now serves more than 750 students from over 500 families annually. Its programs are based in the arts, outdoor recreation, sports, education and exploration. Since its inception, the Academy has based its operations out of a variety of locations, including the Academy founder, Wendy Brook's home as well as office space in the high school. With the downturn in the economy, the Academy was able to take advantage of lower real estate prices and purchase a 1,118 sq. ft. commercial condominium conveniently located just a short walk from their summer campus at the Telluride High School.
This project will help ensure that the Academy can continue to serve local and visiting families. In 2011, the Academy hosted 739 children in 93 enrichment programs; 271 (or 37%) of those children live in the Telluride region. Academy programming provides experiences that enhance and enrich the lives of the students it serves, while also providing critical support to local working families who need care for their children in the summer months when school is not in session. From "My First Camp," for 5-year-olds participating in their first wilderness experience, to the Outdoor Leadership Challenge, which provides life skills and leadership opportunities for teens, the Academy offers something for everyone. "Eliminating our monthly mortgage payment," said Demas, "will allow us to re-channel much needed funds directly to other operational expenses as well as our tuition assistance needs. Most importantly it will ensure the long term strength of the Academy for years to come."
The Academy maintains a substantial annual tuition assistance program funded in part through community grants from the Telluride Foundation as well as private donations, other regional grant awards, and fundraising events. Offering tuition assistance to local families ensures that the Academy's commitment to diversity and inclusion is maintained and that local students will always have the opportunity to attend summer enrichment programming regardless of their families financial situation.
"The Foundation Board was happy to approve the Telluride Academy Special Initiative Grant," said Ed Barlow, Co-Chair of the Foundation Board, "We strongly believe in the program and how the Academy enriches the lives of its participants and the Telluride community as a whole. We are proud to support its efforts." This Special Initiative Grant follows another 2011 Special Initiative Grant approved at the Board's July, 2011 meeting for $75,000 to help build the Gold Run Early Education/Childcare Facility. Additional past Special Initiative Grants include funding to: enhance the Telluride and Norwood School Districts' drug and alcohol education programs; purchase a permanent office space for the San Miguel Resource Center; help enable the Trust for Public Land's acquisition of a conservation easement to re-open public access to Mt. Wilson; complete an Alternative Futures Study of the region, providing projected economic, ecological and community trends; help the Ah Haa School for the Arts complete its building remodel; construct Mountain Munchkins Preschool; remodel the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program's ski-in, ski-out headquarters; and remodel the Telluride Medical Center's emergency room facilities. Special Initiative Grants must be sponsored by three Foundation Board Members and are considered at the Foundation bi-annual board meetings.
The Telluride Foundation exists to create a stronger Telluride community through the cultivation and promotion of philanthropy. It is a nonprofit, apolitical community foundation that provides year-round support for local organizations involved in arts, education, athletics, charitable causes, land conservation and other community-based efforts through technical assistance, education and grant making. As a grant maker, the Foundation awards grants to qualified applicants that serve the people living and/or working in the Telluride region for the purpose of enhancing the quality of life within the region. For more information on the Telluride Foundation, visit www.telluridefoundation.org.