Events celebrate early education

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— The Yampa Valley Community Foundation's special initiative for youth and early childhood education is coming to a close this year, after setting aside $60,000 to improve the quality of early childhood education.

On Tuesday, a special presentation will celebrate that initiative and the Good Beginnings Never End Fund, which has been established to perpetuate the initiative's goals.

But the events related to youth education don't end there: Tuesday night, a speaker from the Colorado Children's Campaign will give a workshop on school readiness indicators, with data on Routt County. Wednesday night, another speaker from the campaign will give an educational session on the state budget crisis.

"I think that we like to look at our community as one that supports young children and families, and this is just another way to come out all together," said Renee Donahue, early childhood supervisor for Routt County. "It's just a big expression of our community's support for young children."

The "Celebrate Good Beginnings" event takes place at noon Tuesday at Strings in the Mountains Music Festival Park, right after a sold-out performance by youth artist Norman Foote. During the short presentation, more than $12,000 in grants will be awarded to various child-education centers and home providers across the county for items to help those centers and providers get needed certifications.

The grants help a variety of needs, from playground equipment to teaching materials to art supplies.

The initiative was established by the Yampa Valley Community Foundation three years ago as a way to "jump-start" community involvement in early childhood education, said Brooke Sanchez, program manager for the Community Foundation. It is a collaborative program with First Impressions of Routt County.

The initiative awarded $20,000 for each of the past two years, and will award a total of $20,000 this year.

The initiative is being replaced by the Good Beginnings Never End Fund, which is community driven. Because of recent legislation that was extended with sponsorship from Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, anyone who wants to make a donation can receive a tax credit.

The workshop scheduled for Tuesday night is with Bruce Atchison of the Colorado Children's Campaign and will cover the school readiness indicators, which measure things such as how a child's health relates to his or her performance in school, Donahue said.

Finally, the educational session at noon Wednesday focuses on the state's budget crisis and how it was created. That lecture is about more than child care, Donahue said, and should appeal to people from various backgrounds and jobs.

For more information about the events, or to register for either of the talks, which include a meal, call Renee Donahue at 870-5270.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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