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.



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Two headlines in today’s Sentinel – “Club 20:  No on tax hike for schools” and “Funds drought may doom Kids Voting” – should give readers pause.

Club 20 reverts to its reactionary form by manufacturing a “red herring” (purported “lack of safeguards”) to justify opposing Amendment 66 – which would ameliorate the funding crisis in public education and benefit most school districts in its Western Slope domain.

On the other hand, Club 20 also voted to support S.744 – the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” – despite “Tea Party” Congressman Scott Tipton’s opposition to any “pathway to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants.

Tipton favors a piecemeal approach that would cherry-pick favored provisions from the Senate’s comprehensive reform bill – but make separate passage of any such provisions (including those benefiting Olathe’s farmers and Palisade’s orchardists) unlikely.

Club 20 rejected Tipton’s position – which spends $46.3 billion (up from $3.5 billion) on redundant “border security” (when net border crossings are near zero, deportations are at record highs, and another 700 miles of 40 foot fence would just stimulate the purchase of 41 foot ladders at Home Depot) – because the “pathway to citizenship” would more than pay for itself (reducing deficits by $1 trillion over the next 20 years).

Club 20’s Health Care Committee has encouraged and endorsed the strategy adopted in the Affordable Care Act for years, but Tipton has voted 40 times to repeal it – impliedly repudiating Club 20’s considered judgment.

Club 20’s opposition to adequate public school funding – which would relieve incessant pressure on local property taxpayers – takes on special significance when coupled with the impending demise of Kids Voting. 

Apparently, irresponsible local “conservatives” fear that public education – especially as to civics – threatens their grip on political power.  Club 20’s Educational Foundation can repair the group’s needlessly re-tarnished reputation by financially rescuing Kids Voting.

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