The Salida School Board held a special meeting on the afternoon of Friday, March 20 to discuss several items of business in response to the coronavirus also known as the COVID-19 pandemic. The District has decided to match the challenge grant opportunity issued by the City of Salida and charitable donations from the community, dollar for dollar — up to $20,000. Collectively this challenge grant is anticipated to raise more than $100,000 for assistance to the Chaffee County workforce which has been devestated by the closure of retail, restaurants, and bars.

Emergency Fund (Image Courtesy of Residence Style)

Superintendent David Blackburn provided a brief update on the status of COVID-19 in a report to the Salida School Board with information that came from County and State Health officials throughout the meetings that took place on March 20. The Salida School Board, following the direction of Colorado State Governor Jared Polis, approved cancellation of in-person classes through April 17.

Blackburn also shared that they are working to determine students within the school district who will need internet and technology such as computers, and other assistance.

Following a report from Blackburn, the Salida Board of Education moved unanimously to meet the challenge issued by the Salida City Council earlier in the day to support raising funds for the Chaffee County Emergency Response Fund.

A press release from the Salida school board confirmed that the Board of Education is acutely aware of how the current response to COVID-19 creates difficulties for working families. “We must do anything we can to support our main street businesses and workers at this time.” stated Blackburn.

This challenge grant opportunity would match, dollar for dollar and charitable donations from the community, to support Chaffee County’s workforce. More information will follow in the near future from the Chaffee County Community Foundation (CCCF).

This challenge grant is intended to provide temporary relief to individuals and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent impacts to the Chaffee County workforce. Initial estimates indicated that as many as 5,000 local workers may be impacted economically by this pandemic. This program is intended to work hand in hand with the Chaffee County Department of Human Services (CCDHS), which is still the first stop for any individual or household seeking financial assistance.

Chaffee County Community Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund Banner

If an individual or family does not qualify for CCDHS assistance, then the Emergency Response Fund can step in. Qualification and selection of assistance will be made on a case by case basis by the CCCF. Individuals and families will be eligible for up to $200 per household member OR $600 per calendar month. Household assistance will be initially limited to $1,200 per household per calendar year, to get the program rolling.

CCCF executive director, Joseph Teipel said, “We are inspired by the leadership of our schools, and are committed to working closely with the Department of Human Services and other partners to help our community–this is a simple idea with lasting impact.”

The funds will be released to CCCF as school, municipal and community contributions are realized. The Board of Education hopes you will be inspired to give if you can. Salida Board President Jen Visitacion said, “We are all in this together.”

Salida School District’s Director of Academics Amy Ward said, “I would like to thank the board for your support with Special Education and increasing our staff to continue to serve students with at a high level.”

Those who are able to support the Emergency Response Fund have been encouraged by CCCF and the Salida School District to visit  the Chaffee County Community Foundation online and click on “Donate to the Chaffee County Emergency Response Fund”.  Those interested can also contact CCCF Executive Director Joseph Teipel at (719) 204-5071.