Vail Daily column: Making a difference in education and lives
Editor’s note: Each month, the Vail Valley Foundation submits a column on the topic of “Making It Possible.”
In the past few weeks, you may have heard about YouthPower365, the new name for the organization formerly known as Youth Foundation. Some of you are probably very familiar with what YouthPower365 does, as we have more than 4,000 local kids in our programs — maybe yours — and the rest of you may not be certain about what we do.
YouthPower365 provides direct services in a cradle-to-career pathway for youth and their families in our valley. There are 16 signature programs in our pathway and as far as we know, we are the only organization in the U.S. providing this type of comprehensive pathway within one organization. The areas of our focus are early childhood, K-12 and higher education.
YouthPower365 makes a difference in the lives of the children we serve through academic tutoring, enriching experiences, parent education, fun activities and supportive relationships with caring adults and peers. Concentrated interactions provide each child with more than 250 contact hours per year that produce significant results and equip students to reach their highest potential.
The results are impressive. Ninety-two percent of Great Start and Magic Bus graduates (a summer kindergarten preparation program and mobile preschool program) are meeting or exceeding widely held expectations for kindergarten readiness. In the four weeks of summer, PwrHrs (grades first through eighth) programming, 88 percent of participants showed growth in math and 85 percent showed growth in reading.
Collaboration with our public schools
The YouthPower365 has a strong collaborative relationship with Eagle County Schools. The school district provides a majority of program locations and covers costs associated with the use of the spaces; this keeps YouthPower365 overhead low. YouthPower365 provides the organizational structure and funding to run the programs and pay staff, most of whom are Eagle County Schools teachers and employees.
Eagle County Schools teacher and staff compensation for the additional time they serve students through the YouthPower365 was shy of a million dollars this past year. This not only assists kids but helps us retain quality teachers in our valley. Most teachers who work for YouthPower365 earn an additional $4,000 to $8,000 per year.
“We can’t thank YouthPower365 enough for providing these amazing enrichment experiences and academic support for our students during summer, after school and even within the school day. What they do makes a profound impact on our students and schools,” said Jason Glass, superintendent and chief learner of Eagle County Schools.
In the future, we aspire to make programming available for every child in our valley; to help each child reach her or his full potential. We never know which one of our children could be a modern Mozart or could be the one to develop a cure for cancer.
It is easy and very worthwhile to support YouthPower365, especially if you are a Colorado Income tax payer. Donations to YouthPower365 can be designated to receive the Colorado Child Care Contribution Tax Credit, which is a tax credit on top of your charitable deduction. Please visit youthpower365.org or call 970-777-2015 to find out more or to support us financially.
Melisa Rewold-Thuon is the vice president of education for the Vail Valley Foundation.