Meet the grantees

The Transforming Safety initiative in 2018 awarded about $1.5 million worth of grants to nonprofit organizations, government entities and schools doing work in, for and with the residents of Southeast Colorado Springs.

The recipients were chosen by a community selection committee and are using the funds to help stem the prison pipeline by stopping crime before it starts. The Southeast Express reached out to all 21 grantees for more information about the projects. Not every organization answered every question; however, here’s what we learned.

** Related content: A transformative program**

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THE COLORADO SPRINGS CONSERVATORY FOUNDATION

Contact information: 719-577-4556, csc@csconservatory.org or coloradospringsconservatory.org.

Who’s in charge:  Linda Weise, founding CEO

Grant amount: $50,500

Project: The Conservatory and Centennial Elementary School Arts Immersion Program provides training in music and performing arts. Both have been shown to increase academic skills and support social-emotional development, among other benefits. 

 

Spider-Man and Captain America visit with Southeast children April 27 during El Dia de los Ninos at the Deerfield Hills Community Center. [Courtesy Photo/Jody Derington]

CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS PARKS, RECREATION AND CULTURAL SERVICES

Contact information: 719-385-5996; deerfield@coloradosprings.gov or coloradosprings.gov/deerfield.

Who’s in charge: Karen Palus, director of parks, recreation and cultural services; Jody Derington, Deerfield Hills Community Center operations administrator and Transforming Safety grant program facilitator

Grant amount: $120,410

Project: The funding has allowed Deerfield Hills Community center to produce a multi-faceted series of programs designed to build resilience and cognitive/emotional skills in Southeast youths. The programs — Pop Up Play, Brain Breaks, the Panorama Afterschool Program and Teen Pathways — meet kids where they are to establish a sense of community in safety; build social and emotional skills; implement restorative practices; improve cognitive function; and build positive relationships, resilience and coping skills. In addition, funds for the Teen Pathways program allowed the community center to employ seven outstanding neighborhood teens.

How to help: Families may register their child at any time now-July 31 to participate in the free Pop-Up Play Program.  Participants can register onsite or by contacting the Deerfield Hills Community Center. More information is available at https://coloradosprings.gov/deerfield-hills-community-center.
Both in-kind and cash donations to the programs help enhance programs by providing snacks, game & activity supplies, and youth staff training opportunities.

 

COLORADO SPRINGS TEEN COURT

Contact information: 719-475-7815; info@springsteencourt.org or csteencourt.org.

Who’s in charge: Executive Director Morgan Mote

Grant amount: $20,000

Project: Grant funds support the court’s restorative justice sentencing, Restoring Success Program, alcohol and drug awareness, life-skills mentoring and leadership development for volunteers.

 

COLORADO SPRINGS WORKS INC.

Contact information: 719-354-6640; hhaufe@commwrks.org (site director Holly Haufe) or jmobley@commwrks.org (vice president Juaquin Mobley), commwrks.org.

Who’s in charge: CEO Robert Andrews, Vice President Joaquin Mobley and Site Director Jolly Haufe

Grant amount: $193,000

Project: The grant has funded Colorado Springs Works’ pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs. The program helps local residents remove barriers to employment for the formerly incarcerated or for those who face the risk of being justice-involved. Colorado Springs Works also provides case management, wrap-around services and support services.

How to help: Stop by our location and get a hair cut, or go online to www.commwrks.org to donate. Visit www.community-ties.com and purchase a bow tie for you and/or your loved one, and in turn we will use the profit to help provide additional supportive services for our participants enrolled with the organization.

 

Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO) Southeast Colorado Springs community advocate students present their research and recommendations in this February photo. [Courtesy photo/Trina Bivens]

COUNCIL OF NEIGHBORS AND ORGANIZATIONS

Contact information: 719-471-3105; information@cscono.org or cscono.org.

Who’s in charge: Diane Loschen

Grant amount: $75,000

Project: CONO’s Grow Your Own Community Advocate Training taught 30 Southeast volunteers to take leadership roles in their neighborhoods. Students were educated on: demographics/Southeast community profile; soft skills and communication; local government; transportation and infrastructure; planning and development; health care; parks and community space; social enterprises; and group leadership. Students received a $250 stipend, funded in part with Transforming Safety dollars; and today advocates are being connected to key resources in order to make system-wide changes to reduce disparities between Southeast and the rest of our community.

How to help: If you are interested in participating in the Grow Your Own Community Advocate Training please email Julie Ramirez at JRamirez@cscono.org.

 

EDUCATING CHILDREN OF COLOR

Courtesy Photo/Educating Children of Color

Contact information: 719-640-6633, ecocinc@gmail.com or educatingchildrenofcolor.org.

Who’s in charge: Executive Director Regan Walter

Grant amount: $30,000

Project: The Educating Children of Color Summit, Leadership Academy and Diversity University promote knowledge and education to improve public safety. The annual Educating Children of Color Summit teaches youths about their constitutional rights, how to survive an encounter with the police, career opportunities, higher education, life skills and self-empowerment, among other skills. It also provides training for education professionals and teachers.
Nearly 120 high school students were chosen by their counselors to attend the summit as student ambassadors. Mentors and student ambassadors attended an all-day leadership training (the Leadership Academy) in January. The students represented ECOC Inc. at the summit.
Diversity University is designed to help professionals and community members respond to the needs of a culturally diverse population, and to help individuals address their biases and leverage their power to address problems of disparate treatment. 

 

INSIDE/OUT YOUTH SERVICES

Contact Information: 719-328-1056; info@insideoutys.org or insideoutys.org.

Who’s in Charge: Executive Director Jessie Pocock

Grant amount: $25,000

Project: Transforming Safety funds are being used to improve public safety by reducing high-risk behaviors such as illegal substance abuse, driving under the influence and perpetrating or being the victim of dating violence among LGBTQ youths. The organization aims to increase youth connectedness to trusted adults and their communities, and build youths’ skills and resilience through peer support groups. 

 

Courtesy Photo/Kidpower of Colorado

KIDPOWER OF COLORADO

Contact information: 719-520-1311, jan@kidpowercs.org or kidpowercs.org.

Who’s in charge: Jan Isaacs Henry

Grant amount: $17,500

Project: Kidpower provides experiential, developmentally appropriate, evidence-based programs that teach kids and their adults how to build resilience and stay safe in threatening circumstances. It helps increase confidence, control and strength, all of which are important protective factors. The organization teaches young people to effectively respond to abuse or bullying, including identifying trusted adults to approach for help and having the language to communicate successfully.
Kidpower aims to provide 15 trainings in Southeast Colorado Springs elementary schools during the grant period. Workshops have already been provided at Pinello, Sand Creek and Rogers elementary schools and at The Vanguard School.

How that improves safety in Southeast: The skills learned in Kidpower workshops increase safety and decrease children’s risks of experiencing abuse, assault, and abduction. The intended outcome is that children are better equipped to set healthy boundaries, avoid unsafe situations, and to successfully seek help from trusted adults when needed. The goal is that children are healthier and able to thrive, learn, and grow.

How to help: Kidpower ‘s most important accomplishment in the past twenty-five years in Colorado is that no child or family has been turned away because of financial challenges. Generous funding from individuals and grant sources help us ensure that Kidpower is accessible and reaches the kids, teens, and families who need it most.
Volunteers/parents/school personnel may reach out to Kidpower to bring a class to a school or agency. Partnership helps Kidpower classes be successful. We would appreciate help communicating about our work to families where Kidpower classes are occurring so that our workshops are well-attended.

 

Courtesy photo/Kingdom Builders Family Life Center

KINGDOM BUILDER’S FAMILY LIFE CENTER

Contact information: 719-247-8190; info@kingdombuildersfamilylifecenter.org or kingdombuildersfamilylifecenter.org.

Who’s in charge: Lisa Jenkins

Grant amount: $129,940

Project: Through Project Right Direction, Kingdom Builder’s offers a variety of services for at-risk youths ages 11 to 14. Programming includes life-skills education, mentoring, homework help and tutoring, and a 12-week domestic violence education and support group, among others. The programming offers participant youths and their families a support network and services to help them avoid being involved in the criminal justice system, or, for those who have been, to prevent them from reoffending.

How that improves safety in Southeast: Allowing our participants and their families to have a support network and services allows them to dream beyond their current challenges, so they can avoid ever being involved in the criminal justice system. For those who have been involved, this also prevents them from reoffending

How to help: We are always looking for volunteers to work with our youth with homework help/tutoring, chaperoning field trips, conducting workshops and teaching activities. We are also seeking those who want to work with the adults, and we offer general volunteer opportunities.
We have an open enrollment for participants. We just received more funding to expand our domestic violence program, and we now provide direct services to victims, survivors and those indirectly affected by Domestic Violence.

 

REACH PIKES PEAK

Contact information: 719-358-8396; info@reachpikespeak.org or reachpikespeak.org.

Who’s in charge: Executive Director Patrice Ravenscroft

Grant amount: $60,000

Project: The Transitions to Independence program provides intensive one-on-one case management to individuals leaving the criminal justice system to pursue and attain post-secondary education. 

 

RELEVANT WORD MINISTRIES

Contact information: 719-635-6640; church@relevantword.org or relevantword.org.

Who’s in charge: The Rev. Promise Lee

Grant amount: $131,895

Project: The Southeast Access to Opportunity (SEATO) Man-Up program is an extensive mentoring program that works with 40 to 60 high-risk youths between the ages of 10 and 17, as well as their families. Grant funds supported program materials, financed projects for youths and their families, and more.

 

SECOND CHANCE THROUGH FAITH

Contact information: 719-645-0867; secondchancetf@yahoo.com or sctfgroup.org.

Who’s in charge: Executive Director Lisa Medina and founder/President Estevan Medina

Grant amount: $130,000

Project: Gang prevention, intervention and at-risk youth services. The organization’s mission is to reach at-risk youths through programs such as one-on-one mentoring; prevention and intervention group meetings; crisis intervention; counseling; addiction support groups; family engagement; pro-social activities; life skills; sports; tools and resources to assist in getting out of the gang lifestyle; tattoo removal; gender-specific groups; GED programming; nutrition and physical health; youth advocacy; community service; restorative justice; hands-on arts and skills training; budgeting assistance; and food resources.

How that Improves Safety in Southeast: This program greatly improves safety by reducing recidivism and crime in our community; it keeps more kids off the streets and safe from gang violence or from committing acts of violence. It gives the families alternatives to know their kids are safe and doing positive activities, it lowers those numbers of youth joining gangs, it gives them other options instead of putting themselves and others at risk on a daily basis when they have nothing to do, nor resources to help them and their families.
Our office is convenient for all in Southeast who have youths who need guidance. We are close to all of our families, and we provide transportation as well. We teach our participants compassion and responsibility by having opportunities to give back to the community, so the youths to learn from their mistakes and see it feels good to be involved in positive ways. It gives them a purpose. The kids are involved in activities and meetings the majority of the week outside of school and work hours, so they have a structured schedule and less time to get into trouble and commit crimes. All of this keeps our community safe.

How to Help: We can always use volunteers to help mentor, and help with events, youth trips and activities. We are in need of more supplies, such as snacks, meals and gas for our outings; and we are currently raising money to buy a new, 15-passenger van to transport the youths.

 

SERVICIOS DE LA RAZA

Contact information: 303-458-5851; info@serviciosdelaraza.org or serviciosdelaraza.org.

Who’s in charge: Julissa Soto, director of statewide programs

Grant amount: $75,000

Project: Servicios de la Raza received funding to implement Familia Adelante (Families Forward), an evidence-based, culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health intervention that helps Hispanic youth ages 10-14 and their parents in Southeast Colorado Springs develop the skills and resilience they need to avoid, reduce or stop high-risk behaviors that can lead to involvement with the criminal justice system.
Familia Adelante is a family-centered, evidence-based substance use and risk behavior prevention program for Hispanic youth age 10-14 and their families. Families meet once a week with Servicios de la Raza facilitators for twelve weeks in this multi-level intervention that targets risk and protective factors at the family, peer, school and community level. The program is designed to prevent conduct disorders; use of illicit drugs, alcohol, marijuana, and risky sexual behaviors by improving family functioning. The program is also influenced by culturally specific models developed for Hispanic populations through coping and life skill enhancement, substance abuse education and academic skill building.

How that improves safety in Southeast: We are improving safety in the Southeast by enhancing the Familia Adelante curriculum by adding community education sessions in Spanish (charlas) on public safety in partnership with the Colorado Springs Police Department and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. The goal of the charlas are to engage the monolingual Spanish-speaking community in Southeast Colorado Springs on a variety of public safety issues to ensure effective community engagement.
Also, this evidence based curriculum has been proven through studies and research to be one of the preventive interventions that has been found to be efficacious in preventing both drug use and sexual risk behaviors among Hispanics. By teaching youth and their parents preventative methods we the anticipated outcomes of the program are as follows:
* Enhance community safety;
* Reduce youth behavior problems;
* Reduce the effects of acculturation stress, including discrimination stress
* Enhance psychosocial coping and life skills in both youth ages 10-14 and parents;
* Enhance academic achievement

How to help: The program is available to monolingual Spanish-speaking parents and their youths ages 10-14. The parents class is facilitated in Spanish while the youth class is facilitated in English. There is also child watch available for children ages 0-9. The kids in child watch will be participating in the 9-week evidence based curriculum: Salsa, Sabor y Salud (Food, Fun, Fitness), an interactive and fun program assisting Latino families to increase awareness of fitness and nutrition issues.
To voluntee, please contact us at 720-297-8127. We are always looking for fun and passionate people.
We are also always looking for funding opportunities or partnerships. Please contact us at 720-427-5542.

 

Pastor Ben Anderson (left) and the Solid Rock Community Development Corp. receive a $130,000 grant for the Fresh Start Investment Program. The program will kick off with an informational session on Jan. 19. (EXPRESS PHOTO/REGAN FOSTER)

Pastor Ben Anderson (left) and the Solid Rock Community Development Corp. receive a $130,000 grant for the Fresh Start Investment Program. The program will kick off with an informational session on Jan. 19. (EXPRESS PHOTO/REGAN FOSTER)

SOLID ROCK COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

Contact information: 719-393-7625; solidrockcdc.com/contact-us or solidrockcdc.com.

Who’s in charge: The Rev. Ben Anderson

Grant amount: $130,000

Project: The city’s only community development corporation aims to “reduce decades of concentrated poverty (in) Southeast Colorado Springs through strategic and cooperative community transformation investments.” The funding launched the Fresh Start Investment Program, which trains those whose lives have been impacted by the prison system to be business owners and positive contributors to the community. 

How to help: The organization is currently seeking volunteers to help with: mentoring a participation the entrepenur-training program; share knowledge in one of the SBDC workshops; join the SRCDC Advisory Council or planning group; and/or help with one of its many community projects. For more information, visit solidrockcdc.com/get-involved/.

 

TESSA

Contact information: 719-633-3819 (24-hour safe line) or 719-633-1462 (main line); tessacs.org.

Who’s in charge: SherryLynn Boyles

Grant amount: $95,000

Project: The funding provided by Transforming Safety allows for TESSA to reach middle and high school students within Harrison School District 2, to provide in-school trainings relating to domestic violence and sexual assault; and intervention services to students who outcry during trainings and to those who outcry to school personnel at other times. Additionally, the Transforming Safety funding supports trainings for district personnel on how to respond to outcries of family abuse and make referrals, plus parenting classes for current and soon-to-be parents. 

How to help: TESSA is always in search of volunteer opportunities, which include but are not limited to: administrative support, children’s program, confidential victim advocacy, safe line, development, and Safehouse. Individual TESSA volunteers must complete our Confidential Victim Advocacy training before volunteering in the aforementioned list. We also provide bother undergraduate and graduate internships in specific fields of study. For more information or to apply, visit the volunteer page, https://www.tessacs.org/volunteer/.

 

THE THRIVE NETWORK

Contact information: 719-844-6178; info@thethrivenetworks.org or thethrivenetworks.org.

Thrive Networks student Gregg Sheldon shows his original automotive artwork at a March 26, 2019, networking event at Hotel Elegante. Sheldon makes the works from automotive parts and sells them to support his start-up vocational training business.[Express photo/Regan Foster]

Who’s in charge: Executive Director Taj Stokes

Grant amount: $161,300

Project: The Southeast Revitalization Project focuses on breaking barriers for individuals in underrepresented communities and restoring economic health from within. Transforming Safety funds allowed the organization to launch the program, which takes individuals from the community through an intensive entrepreneurial course. Candidates are encouraged to focus on their own small businesses and create social impacts that not only bring financial gain but that solve issues within the community. The program also provides instruction, technical advisors, personal coaching and industry mentors to help enrich the students’ experience; and addresses systemic causes of economic, racial and academic disparities.

How that improves safety in Southeast: The path from poverty to prison is direct. Economic development of at-risk communities is vital to reducing violence and halting rising crime rates. All people need access to basic necessities and value of services within their communities, as well as the opportunity to create success and thrive as individuals.

How to help: We are in need of volunteers with professional expertise in the following areas: education, fundraising, grant writing, and video production. We are also accepting donations, as well as in-kind donations for student materials (software, computers, etc). If anyone is interested in volunteering or donating please let us know via email, phone or the “get involved” page on the website.

 

THE TRUST FOR PUBLIC LAND

Contact information: 303-837-1414; emily.patterson@tpl.org or tpl.org.

Who’s in charge: Emily Patterson, director of Parks for People Program

Grant amount: $60,000

Project: The renovation and revitalization of Panorama Park. The trust is partnering with the RISE Coalition and the City of Colorado Springs to engage the community in a participatory design process aimed at revitalizing Panorama Park into a friendly destination and source of community pride. Dollars support the creation of a community-driven master plan and the Youth Advisory Council (YAC). Selected neighborhood youths receive mentorship from community leaders while also working as paid members of the park design team.

How that improves safety in Southeast: The community has identified concerns such as loitering, drug use and illegal driving as safety concerns that limit their ability to enjoy Panorama Park. The park’s aging infrastructure and lack of amenities mean that it is not a safe place for the community to gather and experience the health, recreation, and community benefits that quality parks provide.  Independent research and our own experience indicates that participatory design improves perceptions and uses of neighborhood parks so that they become community assets rather than liabilities. Parks create a sense of comfort and security when they offer opportunities for social interaction and community cohesion and the perception of safety in a park has a direct relationship to who and how a park is utilized.

How to helpWe are currently fundraising for the park and need your help to identify support for the project. In the coming months we will hold outreach activities for the park including a Meet Me in the Park event on Saturday, June 1 and a public open house led by the YAC on June 20. A survey is being distributed by partners and can be found on the City’s website at https://coloradosprings.gov/panoramapark. We encourage community members to lend their input to the project and attend events in the park this summer. This is a community-driven process, and now is the chance for neighbors in the Southeast to share their needs and desires for their neighborhood park. Additional volunteer opportunities will likely be available as construction on the park begins next year.

 

TwoCor PROJECTS

Contact information: 719-425-5424; jimh@twocor.org or twocor.org.

Who’s in charge: James L. Hinkle, LCSW

Grant amount: $92,000

Project: TwoCor builds resilience and social-emotional health in disconnected youth so they can achieve educational goals and employment opportunities, establish personal health routines and live safely. The grant funds up to 16 hours of weekly contact time for 30 area youths, over a six- to nine-month period. Young participants learn about their brains and the impact childhood difficulties can have on the functionality and efficiencies of their neurobiology. By engaging in structured, movement-based, repetitive and rhythmic activities, youths learn how to reduce their stress in sustainable, fun and healthy ways.

How that improves safety in Southeast: The Pikes Peak Region reveals significant needs of youth, including stress, abuse, poverty, employment and justice. Youths need realistic work opportunities with practical support and the skills to better regulate their emotions and impulsivity. But they also need employers who could see behind stress-based attitudes and behaviors presenting as apathy, aggression or defiance, or lack of work ethic. TwoCor has recruited, trained,and supports almost 20 local businesses on how to address toxic stress in the workplace for successful outcomes.
Public safety is enhanced when youth engage in after-school, evening, and weekend supervised, adventure activities in which to engage and learn how to calm their stress in a relevant, age-appropriate, positive manner. Lastly, TwoCor will advocate for the youth at home, at school and at work, to ensure a successful learning opportunity by ensuring transportation, emotional support and guidance with a future job readily feasible.

How to helpTwoCor seeks volunteers to serve on the board of directors and committees; to help with learning lab facilitation and mentoring; and to cook meals for and with the youth. Businesses who are willing to have youth interns are always needed; however, the owner must approve of the supervisor engaging in monthly consultation around trauma-sensitive employment practices.  Anyone needing labor intensive, low-skill work done around their homes or businesses can hire TwoCor’s work crews of adult staff and youth participants to do your projects.

 

VOCES UNIDAS FOR JUSTICE

Contact information: 720-588-8219; informacion@vocesunidasforjustice.org or vocesunidasforjustice.org.

Who’s in charge: Executive Director Kristiana Huitron

Grant amount: $153,439

Project: The Promotoras de Paz program provides healing and justice circles and advocacy, and offers community education for survivors of violence and their supporters. The grant has funded training through the program, paid to bring in culturally specific train-the-trainers for the healing and justice circles and convened a monthly Community Coalition of Promotoras de Paz.

 

WEIGHOUT MINISTRIES

Contact information: 719-930-0826; info@weighoutministries.org or  weighoutministries.org.

Who’s in charge: Executive Director the Rev. Chauncey LaBrie and Chief Operating Officer Jennifer LaBrie

Grant amount: $50,000

Project: WeighOut Ministries hosts a variety of mentoring programs for at-risk community youths. They include: the WeighOut Hoops Youth Basketball Academy, in which middle school youngsters learn about basketball and critical life skills like time management, goal setting and persistence; the Carmel Lunch Time Hangout, wherein students receive group mentorship focused on character development; and the Monday Night Open Gym, when young adults may participate in basketball games, gain competency in real-world skills, problem-solve, assume leadership roles and develop a group identity with other like-minded peers and adult role models. The organization also engages the community in connection-building programs such as block parties, events or community clean-ups.

How that improves safety in Southeast: By providing positive role models, mentors promote resiliency among at-risk youth. Community-based after-school programs can provide safe havens where youth can express themselves and receive guidance in engaging in social and community activities. We are providing positive outlets for youth as an alternative to the streets. Our weekly programs and outreaches offers  the community a safe environment to connect, build and establish positive relationships and bring hope and encouragement to a disconnected culture. The WeighOut programs was created to enrich misplaced lives and re-direct young people away from an environment of violence, drugs, and the criminal justice system. By redirecting misplaced energy, young people can begin learning community responsibility and move toward positive personal and social goals which will lead to decreased crime rates, self-sufficiency, and strong communities.

How to help: We are looking for business partnerships and like-minded individuals who have a heart and passion for at-risk youth and for the disadvantaged. We are supplementing Harrison School District 2’s V.I.P. program with community members, local church members and others who have a passion for schools, students and at-risk youth in Southeast. We are also looking for talented individuals who can teach youth a creative skill (art, music, robotics, videography, computer technology, etc.), mentors for adults and youth, and coaches for basketball programs.
Fundraising dollars will be used for: Gym rental; youth program supplies (arts ands crafts materials, game equipment and food/snacks); educational curriculum, school uniforms and shoes (for students who can’t afford them);  staff salaries; and community events, among others.

 

YOUTH TRANSFORMATION CENTER

Contact information: 719-440-1983; youthtransformationcenter@gmail.com or youthtransformationcenter.org.

Who’s in charge: Jeannette Holtham, founding president

Grant amount: $145,060

Program: Youth Transformation Center trains schools to curb the overuse of suspension or expulsion in favor of restorative justice practices, both for prevention of discipline problems and for intervention in cases of wrongdoing. Transforming Safety funds have been used to identify the most at-risk students and provide alternative services to deflect the school-to-prison pipeline. The goal is to interrupt and intervene in patterns of disruptive behaviors before they become irreversible.

How that improves safety in Southeast: This grant allows YTC to early-identify students most at risk of future suspension and expulsion, and to provide alternative services to deflect the school-to-prison pipeline before youths have developed irreversible patterns of disruptive behaviors.

How to helpWe need two additional volunteers for the coming school year; ideally they will be retired teachers who would love to get back in the classroom one or two days a week.  Background checks are required. For further details, visit the web site. We also need to raise an additional $50,000 to hire two additional part-time employees who can assist with administrative and program efforts.

— Compiled and edited by Cory Peterson

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