Funds drought may doom Kids Voting
The Mesa County chapter of Kids Voting will end its 17-year run unless it can collect more donations.
Organizers of the group that helps teach children about modern civics say they can no longer afford to operate after the end of the year unless they can get more financial support, director Martha Graf said.
That’s because much of its normal funding streams have dried up in recent years, Graf said. “I don’t begrudge any of these organizations for making decisions to not fund us because times are tough, and local governments and (private charities) are making really hard decisions about what to do with their limited funds,” she said. “But it’s been difficult for us to regain that lost funding.”
Until recent years, the nonprofit group would receive about $20,000 a year from various local governments in the Grand Valley. That’s dropped off for the third year in a row, and the group is hoping to find private donations to replace it.
Before 2010, Grand Junction routinely donated about $8,500 a year toward the program that is designed to teach the valley’s children about the importance of voting. In recent years, however, that has dropped to less than $5,000 a year.
Up until that same year, the Mesa County Board of Commissioners would approve about $5,000 a year, but has completely cut that out.
And School District 51, which does provide free office and meeting space for the program, rejected Kids Voting’s request for its usual amount, $6,500. Last week, however, after learning of the program’s plight, the School Board approved $4,000.
The group also holds an annual fund-raising banquet, but even that hasn’t made up the difference, Graf said.
But while Graf said she’s grateful for whatever donations she can get, she said it’s still too little too late unless the group can find other, more stable funding streams.
“This fundraising thing is all new to me,” she said. “We’re wondering if people care enough to have us around, and if they are able to help support us financially.”
Occasionally, the program has received grants from such private donors as the Colorado Health Foundation, the Lions Club of Grand Junction and United Way. But those grants are never guaranteed year to year, and groups like Graf’s have to compete with other worthy nonprofits.
So to see if the group can make a go of it on its own, it’s planning to hold a special fund-raising event next month called Civics at Sunset to see if it can generate enough support to stay afloat. Details of when and where that event will be held are still being worked out.