Integrated Community asks for funding to continue, expand school programs | SteamboatToday.com

Integrated Community asks for funding to continue, expand school programs

Teresa Ristow

— Immigration reform and other factors likely will cause a surge in Steamboat Springs School District’s English language learner population in the coming years, according to staff at Integrated Community.

Executive Director Sheila Henderson gave a presentation to the Education Fund Board Wednesday night about the services Integrated Community currently offers to the Steamboat district, and why the group needs more funding to keep up with ELL needs.

The number of ELL students in the district has increased dramatically over the last 10 years, with 181 students identified in 2013-14, up from just 38 during the 2003-04 school year.

Integrated Community works to help immigrants and other English language learners better integrate into the area.

"We were created because of the changing demographics in Steamboat Springs," Henderson said. "We're just seeing more and more people coming in."

Integrated Community is applying for Education Fund Board grant money for the first time this year, asking for about $23,000 to continue to offer and expand services offered to local students.

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Without the funding, services like tutoring, interpretation, translation and help with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications may have to be scaled back.

"We can't keep up anymore," Henderson said. "We want to be able to keep going into the schools and increasing all of our work."

Henderson said that many ELL students who receive tutoring have gone on to become tutors themselves, or interned in the Integrated Community office.

She said it has been very empowering for some Spanish-speaking students to come out of the shadows to realize that being bilingual is a skill people pay a lot of money for and spend a lot of time to have.

Without the support of the Education Fund Board, Integrated Community will seek out other grants and private donations in order to continue the level of service the organization is currently offering, according to its application with the EFB.

EFB community group grant applications were due by midnight Wednesday and will be awarded by the EFB Grant Commission on Jan. 21.

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

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