Summit School District receives $750,000 grant for new after-school programming initiative that plans to start next year

Three children explore the outdoors through programming provided by Keystone Science School during the summer of 2020. Because the Keystone Science School is no longer offering after-school programming, the community rallied together to find a solution — resulting in a partnership between The Summit Foundation, the Summit School District, and Breckenridge and Keystone resorts, which donated a grant of $750,000.
Joe Kusumoto/Courtesy photo

For 10 years, the Keystone Science School offered quality, after-school care to students around Summit County through a program called CATCH, or Coordinated Approach To Child Health. 

However, in March, the program announced it would be closing its doors due to staffing issues. This left families with students at Frisco, Silverthorne, Dillon Valley and Summit Cove elementary schools with limited options for before- or after-school care for the 2022-23 school year.

To fix the immediate need, Lake Dillon Theater Co. quickly expanded its dual-language after-school program. Still, a longer-term solution was needed, said The Summit Foundation Executive Director Jeanne Bistranin.

Months later, a solution has been reached.

The Summit Foundation announced on Tuesday, Oct. 18, that a new after-school programming initiative will launch next year in partnership with Keystone Resort and Breckenridge Ski Resort, which donated a grant worth $750,000.

Jody Churich, vice president and COO of Vail Resorts, said the donation was a further commitment in Breckenridge’s effort to create more support for children in the community. 

“It was all about listening and learning and just being a good community partner and finding ways of supporting working families in our community,” Churich said.

The donation is a directed grant provided through The Summit Foundation as a portion of the revenue from its ski medallion program, according to the news release. It will come in three installments of $250,000 over three years in an effort to address the “long-term challenge” that was identified, Churich said. 

The program will be organized, hosted and curated by Summit School District, but will be externally supervised by The Summit Foundation. Bistranin said the foundation’s role is to oversee the program from afar. 

“As the discussion started evolving, then it made sense that The Summit Foundation should take the lead on the effort,” Bistranin said. “So everyone looked to us to do that and we were happy to do that.”

Summit School District Superintendent Tony Byrd said said he was also excited that the nonprofit took a role. 

“When I was approached by The Summit Foundation to see if the district would be interested in partnering, for me, it was a no-brainer,” Byrd said. “Anything we can do to support the needs of students beyond the school day, we’re happy to be a partner.”

The foundation has sat in on meetings with the school and community partners to oversee the programming, hiring and service coordination. 

The first order of business is to hire a program coordinator, Bistranin said. She added that the coordinator will most likely be a school district employee who will be selected by the first of the 2023. Therefore, Bistranin said the program is expected to launch in summer or fall of next year.

Byrd explained that after-school programming is extremely important for students.

“A lot of families will have to work two or three jobs, just to make it here,” Byrd said. Therefore, he added, many families can’t leave work on time to pick their children up from school. 

Byrd also said that after school programming can be an important opportunity for younger and older children to be productive — and entertained — after school hours. 

Bistranin agreed.

“If — after school — they can have some really cool enrichment programs or academic assistance to get their homework done, that’s going to obviously impact their learning during the school day, too.,” Bistranin said.

Byrd said the community partnership goes beyond providing an after-school program — it also sets an example for students. 

“I say often that the schools really are the community schools, they don’t belong to the adults that work in them,” Byrd said. “I think it’s our responsibility to be serving the broader community beyond the doors.”

Byrd added that one of the five profiles for graduation is to be community minded, which this partnership reinforces.

“I think it’s amazing that nonprofits and really everybody, will put the needs of the community above their own needs, which is really cool and unusual,” Bistranin said. 

Along with the school district, the resorts and The Summit Foundation, other community partners involved are Colorado Mountain College, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, Lake Dillon Theatre Co., Summit County government and the towns of Breckenridge, Frisco and Silverthorne, according to the news release.

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