Copper Mountain grant program accepting applications |

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Copper Mountain grant program accepting applications

Special to the Daily/Jessica Evett

Looking to educate children of Summit and Lake counties about environmental stewardship? Looking for additional funding for those projects? Copper Mountain’s Environmental Foundation is currently accepting proposals for projects for the 2012/13 grant cycle.

The foundation was started in 2007 by Copper employees, with a long-term goal to support environmental initiatives in Summit County and the surrounding areas. Grant funds are raised solely by the donations from Copper employees and doubled by the Copper Match program.

Since its inception, the program has awarded more than $80,000 in grants to help fund youth and environmental programs, according to Steve Miller, acting board president for the foundation.

Previous grants have ranged from $2,000-$10,000 per project. Eligible recipients include private and nonprofit organizations, government agencies and individuals, but must have participants between the ages of 5-18 from Summit or Lake counties.

Employees of Copper voluntarily contribute through tax-deductible donations from their paychecks, and Copper matches their donations at 100 percent.

Employees that donate to the foundation also have the opportunity to sit on the board of directors that weigh in on the applications submitted for the grant funding, Miller said.

“It’s a nice thing we do for our employees. Not just the board makes these decisions – we allow those who donate to attend the grant- funding cycle process,” Miller said.

Since the foundation’s inception, the High Country Conservation Center, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, Girl Scouts of America and the Summit School District, have been beneficiaries of the grant program.

“It’s been wonderful – Copper’s foundation has been one of our biggest long-term supporters,” said Jessica Evett, executive director of Friends of the Dillon Ranger District.

Evett said FDRD plans on applying for the grant again this year.

“This year we hope to continue building those weeklong extended opportunities for kids,” Evett said. “That’s our ultimate vision. One-day opportunities to work with kids are great, but what we really need to have is more extended contact with smaller groups of kids to make the experience more transformative for them.”

Thanks to the Copper grant program, three years ago the Keystone Science School established the Mountain Pine Beetle Youth Coalition. Students enrolled in the program funded by the grant assumed a stakeholders’ role in the problem.

Role-playing as forest health officials, students came up with policies on how to manage the pine beetle problem and maintain forest health. The program carried with it an action component, allowing children to learn about the issue in a hands-on way, according to Dave Miller, programs manager for the school.

“The grant was instrumental,” Dave Miller said. “The program blossomed into our Education in Action program for youth, without the grant from Copper, we would not have that program.”

The school plans to apply for a grant again this year to continue to grow its Education in Action Program.

“The Keystone Science School Mountain Pine Beetle Coalition was really an emotional one,” Steve Miller said. “It was really impressive to see these kids, some that would not typically be given this opportunity, go and explore and learn in a hands-on way.”

Through its funding from the foundation, the school has involved students from Lake and Summit counties. Last year more than 200 Summit Middle School students learned about mountain pine beetle issues, forest health, watershed management and water quality.

“We want our program to be as impactful as possible,” Dave Miller said. “By involving youth with project-based, hands-on learning, the work we do is not just the Keystone Science School – we work with teachers and we’re really cognizant of our curriculum.”

Educating the youth on environmental stewardship will “make the world a better place to live for future generations,” Steve Miller said.

“I have a 5-year-old daughter and she’s on us all the time about water consumption, lights, energy savings – it’s amazing” Miller said. “We’re trying to make a difference by teaching them and getting them involved so they grow up and share.”