Aspen Community Foundation

Contact Information

110 E Hallam St
Aspen, CO 81611 - 1460
(970) 925-9300
Social Innovation Fund 2014

Executive Summary

APPLICANT. Aspen Community Foundation (ACF), an existing grantmaking organization, was founded in 1980 to build philanthropy and support nonprofit organizations by connecting donors to community needs, building permanent charitable funds and bringing people together to solve community problems. Through its Aspen to Parachute Cradle to Career Initiative (CCI), ACF has engaged an entire region--including severely disadvantaged and philanthropically underserved rural areas--in a Collective Impact initiative to ensure all children can succeed.

TYPE OF SIF. ACF is proposing a geographically based Social Innovation Fund in Colorado's Aspen to Parachute region ("the region").

PRIORITY AREAS. ACF is targeting youth development to address significant gaps in academic and other outcomes between low-income youth and higher income youth. Additional priorities include: low-income communities; significantly philanthropically underserved communities; a Collective Impact Approach; and Opportunity Youth.

GEOGRAPHIC AREAS. ACF's service area is a rural resort region on Colorado's Western Slope, encompassing Pitkin, Garfield and western Eagle counties. It includes 12 municipalities and four school districts, and is home to 22,000 youth ages 0--18. Huge disparities exist in income, school readiness, academic achievement, graduation rates and other indicators.

OTHER ORGANIZATIONS. Key organizations will include ACF's 80-plus partners, including nonprofits, school districts, governments, hospitals, civic groups, businesses and philanthropy. JVA Consulting (JVA), ACF's evaluation and capacity building partner, will support CCI implementation strategies.

GRANT AMOUNT/PERIOD. ACF is requesting $1,000,000 per year for five years.

SECURED MATCH. ACF has $1.4 million in its Cradle to Career Fund to be used for the SIF match.


OVERVIEW OF PROGRAM/NEED. ACF's CCI is a Collective Impact strategy that is uniting its many partners to address education and youth-development gaps through a collaborative structure, grantmaking to evidence-based programs, and rigorous evaluation. The SIF will stimulate investments in evidence-based programs to address the most compelling needs: less than 1% of Latino children--the region's fastest growing population--attend preschool; 56% of children are not ready for kindergarten; 40% of low-income children are not proficient in reading and 75% are not proficient in math; 26% of low-income students are not graduating high school; and the region has the state's second highest teen birth rate. The selected subgrantees will participate in rigorous evaluation and will receive assistance in building their evidence base, in developing sustainable business models and in growing and scaling throughout the region.

THEORY OF CHANGE/MEASURABLE OUTCOMES. Through its Collective Impact strategy of uniting the community around a shared vision and evidence-based strategies, ACF will ensure the region's youth are ready for kindergarten and later graduate high school ready for college and career. Outcomes include: 75% of low-income children in the region will be ready for kindergarten, and 90% of low-income students will graduate from high school. Other CCI goals: 85% of low-income students will read at grade level by the end of third grade, and 75% will perform at grade level in math by the end of eighth.

SUBGRANT PORTFOLIO STRATEGY. ACF's strategy will build on the collective impact approach it has used to achieve consensus with community stakeholders. Selection of high--performing subgrantees will follow a rigorous application process. JVA will design and implement a thorough evaluation strategy, ensuring the funded programs achieve at least moderate levels of evidence over the grant period, and provide comprehensive technical assistance. ACF and its partners will provide the investment capital, technical assistance and support, ensuring subgrantees with innovative and evidence-based interventions can grow their reach and impact.

EXPERIENCE, EXPERTISE, OTHER STRENGTHS. For more than 30 years, ACF has convened local organizations and leading stakeholders to identify needs and implement effective solutions. ACF is positioned to focus the region's resources on improving the success of underserved youth. ACF is joined in this work by JVA, a research and evaluation, planning and consulting firm with extensive experience evaluating federally funded programs, including large-scale capacity building initiatives.

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