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Communities That Care and the Chaffee County Youth Alliance have announced the award of $9,250 in mini grants to 11 Chaffee County community projects serving local youth.

Grants of up to $1,500 were awarded to support projects and programs focused on positive youth development and youth-community engagement. Eleven awards were made, representing community organizations and upstart efforts, selected from a field of 28 applicants.

Special additional funding was awarded to the Partnership for Community Action (PfCA) for initiating weekly Teen Nights at Seasons Café in Salida, and to the Salida Police Department for their Positive Youth Ticketing initiative.

The interest in the mini-grant program, a first for the not-quite-year-old CCYA, surprised organizers.

“Grant applications were submitted at the end of February, but due to the higher than expected volume of applications the grant review committee wasn’t able to announce awards until the third week in March,” said Chaffee County FYI Communities That Care Facilitator Miki Hodge. She noted that there were twice as many mini-grant applications as expected. “We’re absolutely delighted by the quality of the applicant ideas and the effort of our youth to put forward ideas to create a positive youth environment.”

Community mini-grants were granted to the following agencies and projects:

• Salida Circus – Family Scholarship Program

• Elevate Her – Outdoor Girl Empowerment Education Activities in Buena Vista

• Horizons Exploratory Academy – Outdoor Playground Equipment and Youth Apparel

• Greater Arkansas River Nature Association – GARNA – The STRAW Project

• Chaffee County High School – Implementing a Buena Vista Teen Night

• A Church – Community Youth Game Night supplies

• Salida High School Cross Country – The Chinle Connect Project

• The Crest Academy – Creating a new Middle School Drama program

• Guidestone Colorado – School Garden Project

• The Alliance – Peer Education Project

• Chaffee County Boys & Girls Club – Social Action Anti-Tobacco & Vape Project

“The grant review committee was in charge of the review of applications and it focused on projects and programs for positive youth development and youth-community engagement,” said Hodge. “We gave special consideration to applications that were written and proposed directly by county youth.”

The grants are a first for the collaborative youth program, jointly organized by Chaffee County Family & Youth Initiatives (FYI) and Chaffee County Public Health. CTC is an evidence-based prevention planning system aimed at helping communities prevent youth risk problem behaviors before they develop, including delinquent behavior and alcohol, tobacco and drug use.

“The CTC evidence-based model is guiding the Chaffee County Youth Alliance team to select, implement and support existing youth programs and strategies that are the best fit for our rural area,” said Hodge. “We hope to encourage community youth agencies, employers, school districts, city and county government teams to engage youth to participate in decision making and implementing projects year-round.”

Hodge said that CCYA hopes to repeat the mini-grant program supporting positive youth efforts next year in roughly the same time frame. Those interested in CCYA or who have questions regarding the mini-grant project should contact Hodge at 719-530-2575 or email mhodge@chaffeecounty.org.