Challenge Fund grants $68,000 to Steamboat elementary schools |

Challenge Fund grants $68,000 to Steamboat elementary schools

Teresa Ristow

— The Steamboat Springs Challenge Fund has awarded 44 grants totaling $68,000 — its largest amount ever — to teachers and programs at Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools.

The funds are generated through community donations and fundraising events run by a tight-knit group of parents and then distributed through the use of grant requests.

Beginning in 2011 as a way to provide additional funding for Steamboat Springs School District elementary schools, the fund continues to grow in size and scope each year.

“This is an incredible program that is supported by the community,” said Michelle McNamara, a Challenge Fund committee member. “The grants cover a lot of different areas, from reading to math to technology and art.”

Grants are meant to “bring the curriculum to life” and foster 21st century skills, McNamara said.

McNamara, other committee members and elementary principals Michele Miller and Tracy Stoddard announced this year’s grant total during a Steamboat Springs Board of Education meeting last week.

“It’s really been a remarkable boon to our elementary schools over the past few years,” Miller said.

Some notable grants will fund Lego math activities in second grade classrooms, a schoolwide Hawk Quest presentation to educate students about birds of prey and Makerspace carts to encourage students to problem solve and collaborate using engineering.

Grants will also fund technology, including Chrombooks and iPad Minis for use in the classroom.

Another grant awarded this year will allow library media specialists at both elementary schools to introduce a new reading incentive program called GenreLand to as many as 300 to 500 students.

The Challenge Fund is now working on collecting funds to be awarded during the 2016-17 school year.

Those interested in donating to the Challenge Fund can do so on Colorado Gives Day on Dec. 8.

Find more information about the Challenge Fund and how to donate at

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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