Grant challenges nonprofit

Comunidad Integrada must match funds or lose them

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Members of the Democratic Party of Routt County passed the hat during their Christmas party Saturday night to help Comunidad Integrada. The nonprofit organization -- formed in January to help immigrants adjust to life in Northwest Colorado -- was given a $5,000 grant by the El Pomar Foundation's Penrose Nonprofit Institute earlier this month with the stipulation that Comunidad Integrada match the funds by Jan. 15.

"It's an all or nothing grant," said Comunidad Integrada executive director Summer Laws. The members of the local Democratic Party were able to raise $900 Saturday night.

The institute approached Comunidad Integrada during the summer. "They asked us to write a proposal explaining how we help immigrants become leaders and more self-sufficient in our community, which we did, and they came back with this idea of a challenge grant," Laws said.

The institute was created in 2003 by the El Pomar Foundation to better understand needs of communities in Colorado. It is divided into small, regionally focused councils of civic and nonprofit leaders. Councils provide grant recommendations to El Pomar trustees based on the issues and needs they discover.

Comunidad Integrada (translated into English as "Integrated Community") finished its first year of operation with a budget of $30,000. Next year's budget is up to $110,000 as it increases the services it offers.

Money from fundraisers and grants is used for intercultural events, materials and training for Comunidad Integrada's in-home English class program and for workshops that help recent immigrants adjust. In 2006, the group plans to start an interpretation and translation service bank to help immigrants communicate in situations such as medical visits and legal meetings.

In an effort to match the $5,000 grant, Comunidad Integrada will be holding a "Taquiza" at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 7 at the Holy Name Catholic Church. The fundraiser will feature food made by local immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America. Food will be purchased item by item.

For more information, call 846-5521.

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