Challenge Fund nets nearly $52K for Steamboat elementaries

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— The Steamboat Springs Elementary School Challenge Fund didn’t collect as much money as Sam Jones hoped it would in its first school year. But Jones, who founded the fund with nine other parents in January, deemed the new fundraising effort a success.

He announced Thursday that the fund raised nearly $52,000 for Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools for the 2012-13 school year.

The total is about half of the $100,000 fundraising goal Jones announced in January.

“That proved to be a little ambitious,” Jones said. “That was me hoping for a perfect world. But I’m actually really pleased with the outcome based on the brevity of time we had to work on it.”

Jones said 131 households, or about 18 percent of the total households who have children attending the local elementary schools, donated to the fund that will be distributed equally between Strawberry Park and Soda Creek in the fall. He said contributions from businesses accounted for about 20 percent of the fundraising total.

An 11-member committee made up of three teachers, the elementary school principals and six parents will start to accept and vet applications in the fall from teachers for possible uses of the fund.

Organizers say the fund, which is managed by the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, will provide Steamboat’s elementary school students with new technology and extra staff support as they learn rapidly developing 21st-century skills.

In March, Jones said the Challenge Fund could purchase such items as iPads, Smart Boards and pay the salary for an additional full-time technology teacher. He said Thursday it will be up to the teachers and school staff to decide what items they would like to see funded.

“It’s a relief we have real money to spend and support our schools,” he said. “The feeling out there for this fund is one more of optimism and growth.”

The Challenge Fund replaced the elementary schools’ more conventional annual fundraisers that included bake, cookie dough and gift wrap sales.

Parent Summer Johnston said those traditional fundraisers were less lucrative than the Challenge Fund in part because some of the proceeds had to cover the cost of the items being sold.

“I personally was really touched and excited about the way the community embraced this new fund,” she said.

Jones said that before the Challenge Fund was introduced, the elementary schools typically raised between $13,000 and $15,000 each year through their fundraising sales.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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