Starting out right
Each weekday during the school year
more than 7,000 students spend a core part of their day at an Eagle County public, charter, or private school. In the classroom, the lunchroom, the hallways, theaters, and gyms, many of our next generation’s most important moments take place.
The quality of these moments are often determined by how much support a student has during their out-of-school time: after school lets out, in summertime, in the precious and formative pre-school years, or in the tricky transition from adolescence into young adulthood.
Only about 20 percent of a young person’s ‘awake-time’ each year is spent in the structure and support provided by our schools. In 2019, YouthPower365 ensured that, during the other 80 percent of a
student’s life, more than 2,000 students could count on our support
in three main areas:
• PwrUp early childhood
• PwrHrs K-12
• PwrOn college and career-readiness.
Our dedicated staffers work closely with local schools, teachers, volunteers, parents, individual donors, and other nonprofit organizations to ensure that, no matter what their background, a young person’s out-of-school time can be positive, uplifting, and full of the warmth and support necessary to be successful in school and in life.
New strategies and structure have made 2019 one of our best. The consistency of programs, additional support for our teachers, coordinators, and continued contributions from public and private donors, and granting organizations, have strengthened our organization in monumental ways.
Colorado Health Foundation funding also allowed us to establish the new position of Community Integration Manager, and both our Magic Bus and PwrHrs programs are now licensed by the Colorado Department of Health and Human Services.
We have also shifted to working with a more geographic focus, with representatives based in each community in the valley. This allows our YouthPower365 teachers and students to stay more closely connected as we work to positively impact ‘every child, every day’ across all three areas of our work.
I have been a participant, coach, and volunteer for YouthPower365 most of my life. Currently, I am a behavioral health provider providing bilingual therapy to those in need in Eagle County. YouthPower365 was one of the organizations that made me realize my passion for giving back to the community and helping others. It is an honor to be serving in the same community that saw me grow up and provided me with the education and extracurricular activities needed to receive my Bachelor’s and Master’s of Social Work.
As a kindergarten teacher in an area that serves families in poverty, I am grateful for this program. Many students in my community do not have a chance to have an academic learning experience prior to kindergarten. The Magic Bus allows students to feel confident walking in the door to my classroom knowing what to expect in their kindergarten year.
This was a great opportunity, it was a once in a lifetime experience. It helped me a lot, it was unforgettable.
The appreciative smiles and warm hugs the children give me sustain me all week and remind me what is most important. I know the VVF, through the Magic Bus, is making an invaluable impact on their lives, helping them prepare for kindergarten and giving them the confidence that all children deserve.
I love PwrHrs. Your program has enabled me to make more of the kinds of connections with kids that I envisioned when I got into education.
Magic on the Magic Bus
IDENTIFYING THE NEED:
For an estimated 3,029 children under five in Eagle County, only 1,511 childcare slots are available – a 2:1 ratio. And according to a study by Qualistar Colorado, the annual cost of sending a child to preschool locally is $11,100 a year. PwrUp is providing early-learning opportunities that remove barriers of transportation and economics.
Preparing children for success
in school and life starts with inspiring a love of learning. PwrUp programming ignites that passion within children and families.
This includes our Magic Bus mobile preschool, which provides 3-to-5-year olds with year-round instruction that develops the skills they need to be ready for school – from practicing listening, to sharing with their friends, to counting and naming colors.
Because the learning comes right to their door, at no cost, the Magic Bus breaks down barriers of transportation and economics. The results have a remarkable impact: This year, Eagle County Schools’ teachers reported that 96% of Magic Bus graduates are kindergarten-ready – the highest percentage on record in more than two decades of running the program. This historic result was further bolstered by the addition of a new RV customized classroom on wheels, creating added space for learning.
Parental involvement is more predictive of a child’s success than socioeconomic status. That’s why PwrUp invites families to be our partners in their child’s academic development. Last year, staff conducted three home visits per family to review their child’s progress and provide tools for parents to reinforce, at home, what their child learned on the Magic Bus. We also hosted three parent workshops last year, with record attendance.
The Parent Mentors program is another family-focused component of PwrUp. Through volunteerism, these caregivers grow as school and community leaders, while also increasing their confidence and skill base as their child’s first and most important teacher.
Parent Mentors served 31 classrooms last year with nearly 4,000 hours of bilingual instruction and mentorship. Parents also participated in 90 hours of training, and more than 75 hours of service outside the program.
Good times at PwrHrs
IDENTIFYING THE NEED:
In a recent study, only one in ten low-income students met or exceeded expectations in math and reading. PwrHrs is improving students’ skills and attendance.
When students enter
elementary school they can transition into PwrHrs, our extended learning program that combines academic support with enrichment activities.
With input from administrators and teachers, our staff customizes academic curriculums to meet the unique needs of students at each school. PwrHrs boosts mastery of skills (math, reading, writing, problem-solving) through student-guided, project-based learning, leading to a strong, positive impact on students in these areas.
Improved skills are further bolstered by PwrHrs’ impact on school attendance: Professor Nate Riggs of Colorado State University’s Prevention Research Center performed an impact evaluation for PwrHrs in 2017. It showed that PwrHrs students attended school more than their peers, an outcome that continues today. If students are in school, learning more often, their risk factor is dramatically reduced.
Students look forward to their time in PwrHrs, drawn in by opportunities they might otherwise not have access to: international cooking, Nordic skiing, music production, unicycling, robotics, yoga, snowshoeing, archery, and team soccer, among others. The program provides healthy meals and transportation, making participation more accessible for working families.
In the summer, PwrHrs transforms into a wide variety of summer camps, all of which help prevent the academic summer slide and provide safe, healthy environments during the school break.
High school graduation day in Eagle County should be a time of celebration for all our families. Unfortunately, only 70 percent of local young men graduate from high school in four years – that’s 10 percent less than the graduation rate of local young women.
Concerned by this achievement gap, we gathered multiple partners in the summer of 2019 to identify solutions that engage, inspire, and empower the young men of Eagle County to excel in school, at home, with their peers, and in the broader community.
We met with local boys themselves, who shared their interests and needs, naming and guiding a program of their own: The CLUB (Community
Lifting Up Boys).
Now in its pilot year, The CLUB operates in four middle schools, reaching 20 boys in 6th and 7th grades at each site. The program spans 23 weeks and includes enrichment and mentorship each week.
Boys selected their own activities and challenges for this academic year, which include everything from entrepreneurship to fly fishing, and from building e-bikes to cooking. These are activities that have an innate value, but facilitators also use these personal development activities as a platform to help boys set goals for the future, identify potential college and career pathways, and increase social-emotional skills.
Eagle County boys are:
College and career-readiness
Dollars for Scholars
IDENTIFYING THE NEED:
Overall on-time graduation rate for our district in 2018 was 74.9%, trailing behind the state average of 80.7%. And a distinct gap persists within those numbers; 63% of economically-disadvantaged youth failed to graduate on time.
At the high school level,
the PwrOn program expanded this year to provide more access to resources and support that leads to high school graduation and college and career-readiness.
Our support included 1:1 case management, group facilitation, and family workshops that provided pre-collegiate and career exploration in a positive and friendly environment.
PwrOn also provided bilingual workshops for students and their parents on topics ranging from financial planning to local college student experiences; SAT and ACT prep; college visits; and intensive intergenerational College and Career Camp.
More than 300 students started applications and 190 students were interviewed for our Dollars for Scholars program, with $190,000 being awarded.
It’s one of many ways we are inspired to help the young people in our community. After all, many of them first came to us at a very young age – some were even students on the Magic Bus. We have helped them along every step of the way, so it makes sense that we do everything we can to help them once again as they ‘power on’ into healthy, rewarding, adult lives.