New CMC fund aims to improve college readiness, offer scholarships | SteamboatToday.com

New CMC fund aims to improve college readiness, offer scholarships

Teresa Ristow

Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs.

— A new Mountain Futures Fund at Colorado Mountain College is bringing together nearly $1 million in private, state and federal grants to fund scholarships and improve college readiness for high school students.

The fund is supporting multiple scholarship programs and college readiness programs and activities at high schools within CMC's 12,000-square-mile service area.

The fund was created because CMC officials recognized that while an increasing number of jobs are requiring post-secondary education, a large number of incoming college freshmen aren't prepared for college-level coursework.

The college estimates that 50 to 70 percent of students who enter CMC are not college-ready. Last year the college announced an ambitious goal to eliminate the need for remediation entirely.

"We need to work together with whatever partners we can to help our local students be ready for the future," said Carrie Besnette Hauser, president and CEO of the college. "Fortunately we have received overwhelming support and interest in our efforts. Our local, state and national partners agree with us that cultivating an educated population is our only option."

The fund is supported by the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative, a statewide college readiness initiative, by the El Pomar Foundation and Morgridge Family Foundation and through a federal Title II, Part A grant.

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About $150,000 from the El Pomar Foundation will be used for scholarships for students specifically in Routt and Garfield counties, with the money being alloted based on need.

About $11,000 from the COSI was given to the Yampa Valley Community Foundation to hold and give as reimbursements to the Steamboat Springs School District for district activities related to college readiness.

The money is being put to use during the current school year for an ACT test prep class, college site visits to universities on the Front Range, and toward concurrent enrollment class fees, books, materials and supplies for students at Steamboat Springs High School and Yampa Valley High School.

Funds from the Morgridge Family Foundation will be used to train high school teachers to become adjunct CMC instructors who can teach college courses within high schools, and the Title II grant will be used to train high school teachers to better prepare students for the transition from high school to college.

Hauser said that pulling together private, state and federal monies to support an initiative such as the Mountain Futures Fund, which offers funding to school districts and student scholarships, is unique.

Representatives from the Morgridge Family Foundation and El Pomar Foundation called the fund transformative and creative.

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