Colorado Gives Day: Hard-hit nonprofits hope for help in statewide effort

Anna Cruz, right a volunteer tutor with the Riverside Educational Center working with students Ivan Berumen, Damara Medina and Estrella Coronado, left to right in the library at the Riverside Educational Center.


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After seven years in operation, the Riverside Educational Center this year is finding funds especially hard to come by. The nonprofit organization that acts as refuge for 128 students of low-income families with after-school activities, mentoring and tutoring programs may have to cut some of its services.

Officials are hoping a boost from donors during today’s Colorado Gives Day can make their financial picture a little rosier in the new year.

“This is the first year we are so challenged,” said Joy Hudak, who shares executive director duties with Mary Gonzales at the Riverside Educational Center. “We’re searching for funds and contacting local businesses.”

As the country comes out of the recession, the nonprofit sector is more slowly recovering and demand for services has increased, according to the Nonprofit Finance Fund. A 2011 study showed that of the more than 1,900 nonprofits that responded to the questionnaire, 77 percent saw an increase in demand for services, while 28 percent of groups had one month or less of cash on hand.

Colorado Gives Day is one way that residents can help to restore the balance and direct funds to their favorite causes. The effort asks residents to donate online in a 24-hour period today at Donations made through the website will go even further today thanks to a $300,000 matching donation from FirstBank. The matching dollars will be distributed based on donations to various causes. Donors can search the website and donate directly to their charity of choice.

According to their financial documents, Riverside Educational Center expects to operate slightly in the red this year, spending nearly $244,000 on the programs, personnel and operating expenses. It planned to take in about $238,000, the bulk of those dollars from foundations. Donations from in-kind services, businesses, individuals, United Way and service clubs accounts for 23 percent of funding, the organization reports.

About 85 students ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade pack the Riverside Educational Center on any given day after school. The organization partners with Hilltop’s Get Real program and with mentoring programs.

More than 80 volunteers tutor students with homework and teach enrichment classes. Families pay $25 a year for the services.

“We’ve got kids in every nook and cranny,” Hudak said of the program’s impact.


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