A sad time for Springs Youth Challenge

Filed under: Opinion |

I got a call earlier this week with some disappointing news. The board of the Springs Youth Challenge has decided that finding funding for the program is too big a mountain to climb; thus, they are ceasing operations.

“Our community has a number of worthwhile causes and, unfortunately, the existing financial support does not always meet the need,” said Margaret Foster, executive director of the program, in a news release.

The only good news is that there will be no interruption to the current class of students who are scheduled to graduate from the program on May 31.

Springs Youth Challenge was started in January 2004 as a way to prepare high school students for community leadership through interactive experiences with civic, business and service organizations and leaders. During the past two years, 125 students from area high schools have participated in the program.

I have enjoyed the time that I spent with the students who participate in the program and I know that Springs Youth Challenge has made a difference in their lives. I sincerely hope that this effort to educate and support the leaders of tomorrow will be resurrected in the near future.

It has been bantered about in certain circles that the leadership groups in Colorado Springs should consider working together to build programs to benefit the community. I would encourage Leadership Pikes Peak, the Colorado Springs Leadership Institute and The Chancellor’s Leadership Class at UCCS to find a way to provide a program similar to Springs Youth Challenge that could be used as a feeder team for their endeavors.

Will Temby, the chairman of the Springs Youth Challenge Board (and the president and CEO of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce), echoes my sentiments. He said in a news release about the closing that “hopefully, in the future, the resources required to sustain this type of quality program for our emerging leaders will be available.”

This begs a thought: How much funding of programs like this can a city and business community of this size support? I get requests several times a week to support various causes and programs. While most are worthwhile, not having access to a bottomless pit of dollars means that I have to pick where to lend support. The sad reality is that no business can support every good cause.

There are different wells in Colorado Springs that nonprofit groups go to for funding and sponsorship, but how long can we continue to draw from them before one or more go dry? Hopefully we’ll never have to answer that question, but continuing support is a topic that’s at least worth discussing.

Launching a leadership initiative

Another leadership initiative is in the works via Susan Edmondson, the executive director of the Bee Vradenburg Foundation.

Denver has a group called the Colorado Business Community for the Arts. Susan will be bringing some folks to town next week to discuss the possibility of starting a similar program in the Springs.

The CBCA believes that there is a need to educate, inspire and develop new leaders to serve as board members of arts and cultural organizations. The program, the only one of its kind in Colorado, is committed to enhancing the understanding of metro Denver’s cultural community. Check out www.cbca.org for more details about this organization.

Directory of Nonprofit and Volunteer Organizations

The Center for Nonprofit Excellence and the Business Journal are collaborating to publish a directory of Colorado nonprofits and volunteer organizations. This magazine-style publication will have information about the hundreds of nonprofit organizations in the Pikes Peak region.

Businesses, families and individuals should keep this “nonprofit encyclopedia” handy as an ideal tool for determining volunteer opportunities and organizations to support. With so many worthy causes – from health and the homeless to the arts and humanities – this guide should help connect those wishing to contribute time, energy and money with specific organizations. This builds winning, lasting relationships.

The guide will also be made available to incoming military families to help them connect with volunteer opportunities in our community.

Watch for the directory in the April 29 edition of CSBJ.

Lon Matejczyk is publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal.