Grants give Vail Valley girls reason to dream |

Grants give Vail Valley girls reason to dream

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Vail Valley: Isabella Delgado, 9, works on a bluebird house as Jerry Fedrizzi, from the Roaring Fork Audubon society, gives instruction Wednesday during an all girls science program at June Creek Elementary School in Edwards.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado ” In Colorado’s Vail Valley, a single mother with one child needs to make $45,395 just to break even, and that doesn’t include money for things like eating out or credit card payments. A single parent with two children needs $60,381.

Local members of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado are saying this situation is made even harder by something called the “Cliff Effect.”

The Cliff Effect is when single women with children lose benefits like food stamps and child-care assistance after accepting even small pay increases. It’s important in Eagle County because about 20 percent of the households in the county live below the break-even point, which is the income needed to pay for basic things like housing, food, child and health care, transportation and taxes.

When the Women’s Foundation of Colorado told the Eagle County Board of Commissioners about this in 2008, the commissioners helped create the Beyond Breaking Even task force that meets to talk about fixing the problem.

“This is a very complicated issue,” said Gretchen Gagel McComb, president and chief executive officer of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, who was in the Valley earlier this week meeting with the Foundation’s local steering committee members. “It’s very easy to find these people (who don’t break even).”

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One way the Foundation hopes to stop the problem is by working with local nonprofits and schools to teach young girls about their potential, said Deborah Luginbuhl, a Women’s Foundation Vail Valley Steering Committee member.

The Youth Foundation, a local nonprofit that works with Eagle County children, got a $5,000 grant from the Women’s Foundation of Colorado in 2008. The Youth Foundation started a girls-only group within its after-school programs with the grant money, and the teachers and counselors working with the local girls quickly realized the kids lacked goals for the future, said Katie Bruen, spokeswoman for the Youth Foundation.

“A lot of them didn’t even know they can dream (about their futures),” she said.

Youth Foundation teachers wanted to teach the young girls that they have the potential to make enough money to support themselves and their children when they get older, Bruen said.

While the Youth Foundation serves boys and girls, Bruen said the Women’s Foundation grant helped them get the needed girls-only program going, and it plans to organize more programs like it this summer and with future grants.

The Women’s Foundation also gave a grant to the Gore Range Natural Science School in 2008, which the school used to develop its Girls in Science programs in local elementary schools. The Science School credits the Woman’s Foundation grant for being able to attract more donors, specifically the United Way and the Vail Valley Foundation, said Natalia Hanks, development director at the Science School and a member of the Women’s Foundation Vail Valley Steering Committee.

The Science School started the program at Avon Elementary, and now it’s also in Brush Creek Elementary in Eagle and June Creek Elementary in Edwards.

“The girls feel really empowered,” Hanks said. “We’re hoping to expand to more schools next year.”

A girls-only program through the Science School was a natural step ” statistics show that girls start losing interest in math and science by the time they reach fourth grade.

“This potentially addresses the Cliff Effect down the road,” Hanks said.

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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