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3 Mar 2017

Grand County Higher Education

Grand County Higher Education

Grand County, Colorado encompasses 1,870 square miles with 14,289 residents (2013 census data) and has a 3.8% unemployment rate.  The county is roughly 2/3rd the size of the state of Connecticut and is nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

Founded in 1996 as the Columbine Foundation, the name was changed to the Grand Foundation in 2001 which also marked a change to a county wide focus to serve all of Grand County, Colorado.  The goal of the foundation is to facilitate philanthropy, fostering and building donor relationships to promote and support community investment and involvement in the mission.  Fundraising events not only increase awareness of the mission but more importantly enables us to provide grants that nurture and support qualified local nonprofits.  The current economy continues to challenge the social infrastructure of all communities in Grand County.  As a major local vehicle dedicated to raising funds for non-profits, we take seriously our responsibility to preserve and enhance our community.  With that, as our aspiration, we developed a campaign to “Give where you live, work and play”.

The donations to the Grand Foundation are shared with over 50 nonprofits.  Each dollar given makes a significant impact on quality of life needs in Grand County.  The grand Foundation keeps its administrative cost at 9 percent with 91 percent being awarded to community needs and projects.

One area of focus by the Grand Foundation wide is the development of Grand County Higher Education.  The comprehensive need for higher education and work force training opportunities first began as a component of the Grand Foundation in 2008 based on expressed need for continuing education opportunities in the county.  A broad based county coalition of business owners, school district officials, patrons and town/county government officials coalesced around the need to identify the continuing education needs and to develop strategic partnerships with post-secondary institutions.  In 2016 a Grand County Higher Education Director position was advertised and a Director was hired.

The Grand County Higher Education (GCHE) began in 2008 when local civic leaders, businesses, county government, public school officials and residents came together around the need to address a county wide void for post-secondary education opportunities and focus.  The Grand Foundation, a nonprofit county wide entity, served as the point entity for the development of GCHE.  A community representative committee was formed to oversee the strategic direction of this work.  In addition, an Executive Committee of the comprehensive GCHE committee was formed and tasked with the responsibilities of developing the essential job functions of a new GCHE Director position and to hire that person.  The first ever Grand County Higher Education Director was hired and began to serve in that capacity February 1, 2015.

Grand County Higher Education (GCHE) is a nonprofit venture, within the Grand Foundation, with a Director who reports to a governing committee.  GCHE is funded completely separate from the Grand Foundation through gifts and grants from individuals and foundations dedicated to our mission to deliver continuing learning, higher education and workforce development opportunities in Grand County.

The purpose of Grand County Higher Education is driven by data supported need and clearly outlined in the Vison Statement:

Grand County Higher Education will be the strategic leader and partner in continuing education and workforce  skill development in Grand County by identifying current and future workforce needs;  developing educational/continuing learning opportunities for Grand County residents; develop partnerships with post-secondary, high tech and vocational training institutions; reduce barriers to access continuing learning opportunities; develop a County wide list of local experts to serve as instructors and trainers; provide training locations that best fit the learner’s needs living in a rural county of Colorado and deliver value add to the residents and businesses in Grand County.

Deliverables to Grand County Residents, Workforce and Businesses

Currently in Grand County, Colorado there are no existing post-secondary opportunities, limited access to industry certification/training programs, minimal dual credit offerings at the two County high schools, high employee turnover, low unemployment, improving business climate and a current and growing demand for a skilled workforce.  Through Grand County Higher Education there will be a central service for the residents and businesses in the County to be kept abreast of opportunities to continue their education.  In addition, Grand County Higher Education will develop a network of local instructors and identified industry presenters who will be certified and credentialed to teach the courses identified.  Not only will this bring a greater level of community buy in, keep costs lower, but it will also build the intellectual capital in the County.  This endeavor is not only a commitment to local economic development but also economic sustainability.  The work of Grand County Higher Education will

  1. Create an interconnected Learning Ecosystem in Grand County.
  2. Provide direct access to adult learning opportunities
  3. Reduce barriers to access
  4. Increase the local workforce knowledge and skills
  5. Increase income potential for individuals
  6. Provide value to businesses through a higher skilled workforce
  7. Add value to Grand County economic development and sustainability

Future Sustainability

As a non profit funding by individuals and Foundations who support the vision of Grand County Higher Education the future work depends on ongoing financial support.  If you are committed to raising individuals economic status through education please support our work through tax deductible contributions.  To donate and learn more about how Grand County Higher Education is connecting higher education, workforce training/certification pathways and adult continuing learning opportunities for the residents, businesses and workforce of Grand County, Colorado visit http://grandfoundation.com/

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