Foundation announces $20,000 in local grants

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— A charitable foundation has announced grant allocations that will give $20,000 to six organizations, benefiting low-income, special needs and at-risk youth in Routt County.

The Craig-Scheckman Fam--ily Foundation, established as a non-profit in the spring of 2005, has selected the Steamboat Mental Health Center; Totally Kids, Inc.; South Routt Elementary School and Soroco Middle School; Comunidad Integrada; Humble Ranch; and the South Routt Library District as recipients of the foundation's first public grants. A total of 18 applicants requested more than $94,000 in funding, foundation executive director Sara Craig-Scheckman said.

Steamboat Mental Health Center: $7,410 Totally Kids, Inc.: $3,090 South Routt Elementary School and Soroco Middle School: $3,000 Communidad Integrada: $2,500 Humble Ranch: $2,500 South Routt Library District: $1,500 For more information: Youth Advocacy Project (970) 879-0148 Sundance Plaza 465 Anglers Drive Building J, Suite 2B

"It was a very competitive funding cycle," Scheckman said.

A program at the Steamboat Mental Health Center, managed by Colorado West Regional Mental Health, Inc., will receive $7,410 as this cycle's "high-impact grant," Scheckman said. The center's Social Emotional Early Development program provides mental health consultations and counseling in local child-care centers for children ages 5 or younger.

Scheckman said young children often struggle with emotional or behavioral issues that can be difficult to identify, making counseling from trained professionals invaluable.

"There is a limit to how much (money) insurance companies can give for social workers and counseling," she said. "This grant helps narrow that gap."

Totally Kids, Inc. is a Hayden non-profit organization that just completed its ninth year of running a successful after-school program for kids. Scheckman said a grant of $3,090 will help start a new, before-school program, beginning at 7 a.m. and providing a childcare resource for parents who commute to Craig or Steamboat Springs.

"(Totally Kids staff) were noticing that, out of a dire need, some school-age kids were being left at home," Scheckman said. The program will have "a minimal cost" for parents and provide a light breakfast for the kids, she added.

A $3,000 grant will help support a social worker for the Day Treatment Program in South Routt Elementary School and Soroco Middle School. Providing counseling for at-risk kids in school can help prevent them from being adjudicated, or entered into the court system, Scheckman said.

Other grants will support ongoing programs at Humble Ranch, which uses an animal-oriented, ranch setting to provide physical and occupational therapy for kids; create and support a youth mentoring and English language tutoring program to be run by Comunidad Integrada and Partners in Routt County; and boost the young adult book selections at libraries in Oak Creek and Yampa.

Craig-Scheckman began the foundation, which funds the Youth Advocacy Project for Routt County, with her husband, financier and investor Michael Craig-Scheckman.

The grants supplement a total of $60,000 already given this year to Partners, the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and First Impressions of Routt County.

Another $20,000 will be given in November, after an application process beginning in October, allowing the foundation to reach its goal of $100,000 in gifts this year.

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