Students giving $50K to area nonprofits

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Nonprofit organizations throughout Northwest Colorado have one month left to seek funding from an unlikely source: local high school students.

Through the El Pomar Foundation's EPYCS program, students representing six area high schools will give nearly $50,000 to local nonprofits early next year. The six schools -- Steamboat Springs High School, Soroco High School, Hayden High School, The Lowell Whiteman School, Moffat County High School and Meeker High School -- are members of the El Pomar Youth in Community Service program.

As members of the EPYCS program, each school is required to raise $500 to receive $7,500 in matching funds from El Pomar, a Colorado Springs-based philanthropic organization. The students involved in the program then allocate their school's total sum of $8,000 to various nonprofits based on criteria selected by the student bodies of each school.

The EPYCS program began in 1991 with a goal of providing Colorado students an opportunity to make a direct effect on their communities through involvement in the service, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. This year, 134 high schools from across the state will award more than $1 million to nonprofit organizations in a variety of fields.

Last week, students from the six area schools attended a monthly meeting of the Nonprofit Excellence Project in Steamboat Springs to present their funding criteria to representatives from nearly two dozen local nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit organizations have until Jan. 14 to apply for grants from the EPYCS clubs at each school.

At Oak Creek's Soroco High School, students selected community recreation and outdoor education, environmental and community awareness and educational programs dealing with youth issues as their top funding priorities. As with each of the other schools, Soroco's EPYCS club will review all applications before selecting the organizations to which it will give money. The students then will interview representatives of each selected nonprofit to determine how much money to grant each recipient.

Like other students who have participated in the EPYCS program, Soroco senior Greg Block said he has developed a new appreciation and awareness for the role of nonprofits in Northwest Colorado.

"Before EPYCS, I really didn't know how significant the role so many nonprofits play in our community," Block said. "It's amazing."

He also now realizes how much money is needed to keep many of the nonprofits operational.

"For me, it's really a great experience and position to be in to help these nonprofits in our community," Block said.

Nonprofits interested in applying for grants are asked to submit two-page proposals to the participating schools by Jan. 14. An EPYCS general grant application form is available at www.elpomar.org.


-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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