ASC Community Partnerships expands outreach to improve quality of life

(06-01-2011)

On any given day, staff of Adams State College Community Partnerships may be helping a non-profit organization apply for grants, or organizing an art exhibit, or promoting the San Luis Valley to filmmakers. Now in its seventh year, Community Partnerships continues to expand its outreach through business development, art and cultural events, and community organizing.

Executive Director Mary Hoffman noted a grant from HUD's Hispanic Serving Institutions Assisting Communities (HSIAC) program allows her office to focus on environmental organizing, business support and job practice, and helping youth development financial skills. The $600,000, three-year grant was awarded in 2009. It was the fourth grant Community Partnerships has been awarded by HUD's Office of University Grants over the past decade, for a total of about $4 million, including leveraged and matching funds, Hoffman said.

The Adams State Community Partnerships staff includes (from left): Community Gallery Coordinator Nate Brokaw, Executive Director Mary Hoffman, and Business Support Director Karl Jolliff.

The Adams State Community Partnerships staff includes (from left): Community Gallery Coordinator Nate Brokaw, Executive Director Mary Hoffman, and Business Support Director Karl Jolliff.

Supporting local businesses

A total of 214 new clients utilized services of Community Partnerships' business support program in 2010, an increase of 49 new clients over 2009.

"We offer free and confidential counseling to clients all along their path of planning a business to seeing it grow into a successful enterprise," said Business Support Director Karl Jolliff. "We cover a range of issues, such as organization and funding strategies, operating licenses and sales taxes, and marketing plans. ASC's School of Business aids us in our work to strengthen the San Luis Valley business community."

Last year 115 people attended eight different business development workshops covering such topics as government contracting, developing a non-profit organization, and using recycled metal and fabrics.

Community Partnerships' effort to help business clients with disabilities was recently profiled in "Diversity Works," the newsletter of HUDS' Office of University Partnerships. In 2010, Jolliff said, Community Partnerships served 41 new clients with disabilities or businesses that target their services to disabled populations.

Challenge Colorado Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program, for example, consulted with Community Partnerships to develop an organizational budget for fundraising. Having this infrastructure in place allowed them to apply for a $15,000 grant from El Pomar for fundraising equipment. The non-profit CCTHRP is celebrating its tenth year of providing horseback rides in a therapeutic environment to disadvantaged and disabled youth. It has been shown that equine therapy can accelerate recovery from medical and mental challenges.

The organization focuses on children age 3-6 with autism, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, and other conditions.

"We see a lot of progress with that age group," said Carol Pastore, director of CCTHRP. She note that this past year they received volunteer help from several Adams State College students in the special education and psychology programs.

"Community Partnerships has been real helpful in several ways," she said. "Karl has helped us organize our financial information and general business organization. He's also going to help us with some brochures."

The organization recently received a general operations grant from El Pomar's San Luis Valley Regional Board.

"Some organizations need computers; we need training equipment for our horses. If we don't keep them happy, we don't have a program," Pastore said. The organization's stable of three horses was recently augmented by a donation of two Norwegian Fjord horses, which "have a very mellow temperament. They're like a couch for the kids, with their wide backs. But training them is a challenge," Pastore added.

Arts & Activitism

Last year Community Partnerships' Community Art Gallery hosted 13 events showcasing 221 artists - most of them from the area. More than 1,200 visitors attended these events. The exhibits included recycled art and fashion, work by area teachers and school students, Missions of the Upper Rio Grande, Hispanic Cultural art, and art and memorabilia of veterans. The latter was held in conjunction with a rededication of the Community Partnerships building, originally built as a Veterans Memorial Student Union.

Another crucial aspect of Community Partnerships is community organizing with the goal of improving the quality of life in the San Luis Valley.

"We engage in a variety of projects to address changing needs of our community, offering educational and outreach opportunities," Hoffman said. "We have worked to raise public awareness on pertinent environmental issues, provided help for non-profits conducting fundraisers, and provided avenues for San Luis Valley citizens' involvement."

In 2010 eleven community organizing events drew a total of 471 participants. Several of these events dealt with "green" and sustainable construction, energy use, and economic development. Community Partnerships also co-sponsored a benefit for the Southern Colorado Film Commission, which it helped to found. The Commission promotes the San Luis Valley as a location for movie production.

"We also work with the Adams State College Athletic Department to help student-athletes become involved in the community," Hoffman said. In 2010, Community Partnerships helped connect 60 students with community agencies.

ASC's CHAMPS class (Challenging Athletes' Minds for Personal Success) requires participants to complete a certain amount of community service.

Community Partnerships' various efforts to raise awareness of recycling were highlighted in the HSIAC newsletter. These include the popular "EARTH" reusable shopping bags promotion, recycled art and fashion shows, and a plastic cap recycling program in cooperation with the Aveda Corporation. Community Partnerships also worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct a feasibly study that measured the economic and ecological sustainability of the San Luis Valley.

ASC Community Partnerships

By Julie Waechter