Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia announced today that Mile High United Way has received a two-year $3.6 million grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service under its Social Innovation Fund. The announcement is a significant development in the state’s collaboration with Mile High United Way, Serve Colorado (formerly the Governor’s Commission on Community Service) and the Colorado Department of Education to improve early childhood literacy rates in rural and urban communities across the state of Colorado.
“Colorado’s prosperity and quality of its future workforce are dependent upon every child receiving a top-notch education,” Hickenlooper said. “The Social Innovation Fund will support the state’s early childhood literacy initiative and augment the many literacy programs and efforts happening in Colorado’s schools. This grant will also support recruitment and training of community volunteer mentors and tutors to help ensure all children are reading at grade level or beyond by the end of third grade.”
Earlier this year, the Hickenlooper Administration identified early childhood literacy as one of three education priorities for the state. Working closely with Mile High United Way and a broad coalition of early childhood experts, the literacy initiative will begin at a grassroots level with community outreach and conversations across the state. The partnering organizations will help build an infrastructure to mobilize volunteers, donors, businesses and other community groups to support existing early learning and elementary school literacy programs. The community conversations and more robust civic engagement efforts will inform possible future policy action.
“Children who can’t read face significant barriers in school and life,” Garcia said. “This grant empowers communities to improve school readiness, promote reading opportunities outside of the classroom, and utilize evidence-based programs to improve early literacy proficiency rates. We look forward to working in close partnership with principals, teachers and community leaders to integrate these resources in a way that supports students and classrooms across the state.”
Through the Social Innovation Fund, the Corporation for National and Community Service supports nonprofit organizations working to improve the lives of people in low-income communities. It does so by leveraging public and private resources to grow innovative community-based solutions that have evidence of compelling impact in three areas of priority need: economic opportunity, healthy futures and youth development. The Social Innovation Fund requires that each federal dollar granted be matched dollar for dollar by the grantee and again by the organizations they select for grants. This money must come from private and other non-federal sources, thereby increasing the impact of taxpayer dollars and strengthening local support for high value nonprofits.
Colorado’s Mile High United Way is one of only five new awards made by the SIF this year. Like the 11 organizations selected last year, these five represent experienced grant-makers with strong track records of success who have proposed compelling, innovative programs to tackle some of our country’s biggest challenges in our most needy areas. The five successful applications were judged to be superior in terms of the quality of their application, their contribution to the overall Social Innovation Fund portfolio, the unique contributions they can make to the social innovation field, and the impact they can have on their communities.
About the Corporation for National and Community Service
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. Of the $1.15 billion appropriated to the agency in 2010, over 90 percent went to support state service commissions, state education agencies, colleges and universities, and nonprofit organizations working in local communities across the nation. The Corporation for National and Community Service plays a vital role in supporting the American culture of citizenship, service and responsibility. They are a catalyst for change and champion for the ideal that every American has skills and talents to give. For more information, visit www.nationalservice.gov.
About Mile High United Way
Combining the collective strength of more than 40,000 donors, 800 local businesses, 100 non-profit partners and local and state government, Mile High United Way has been leading the movement for positive change for more than 120-years. Mile High United Way concentrates on helping people of all ages, in every stage of their lives, through three interconnected areas of change: School Readiness, Youth Success and Adult Self-Sufficiency. For more information, visit www.unitedwaydenver.org.
About Serve Colorado – Governor’s Commission on Community Service
Serve Colorado strives to build a culture of citizenship, service, and responsibility in Colorado. Serve Colorado works under the leadership of a board of sixteen commissioners to distribute and administer Colorado’s allocation of AmeriCorps*State funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The current program portfolio consists of sixteen programs working to meet a variety of immediate and local needs throughout Colorado communities, including environmental stewardship, academic tutoring, youth mentoring, healthy futures, economic opportunity, and more. Additionally, Serve Colorado promotes volunteerism and service as a means to strengthen Colorado communities through days of service, special initiatives, and community partnerships. For more information, visit www.colorado.gov/servecolorado.