Kids Voting seeks private donors

A Mesa County program designed to teach youth about the political process and get them involved in voting as soon as they are eligible now has a new way to gather donations.

Anyone who makes a donation to Kids Voting Mesa County by the end of the year Tuesday can see their donations doubled thanks to a matching grant from the Kiwanis Club of Grand Junction and the Bacon Family Foundation.

Donors can go to and contribute as much as they want to help the group.

Those donations are tax-

Although the group has offices inside District 51 schools and does receive some funding from them, it isn’t a school program, its executive director, Martha Graff, said in an email message sent Friday to supporters.

“Instead, it is a nonpartisan, nonprofit that works in partnership with schools and parents to bring civics and voting alive for our young and future leaders,” she said.

“Each year — not just during the presidential election — Kids Voting runs mock elections for students in grades K-12 in all schools in Mesa County.”

Before the students cast nonbinding votes on candidates of all ilks, they interview them in person to help students better understand the importance of becoming informed prior to making a decision on which candidates to support.

The group has had somewhat of a difficult year.

Until recently, the group received about $20,000 a year from local governments in the Grand Valley, but that’s dropped off.

Before 2010, Grand Junction routinely donated about $8,500 toward the program, which is designed to teach the valley’s children about the importance of voting. That has dropped to less than $5,000.

At the same time, the Mesa County commissioners have cut out the $5,000 a year they used to give to Kids Voting.

As a result, the group has been asking for private donations to replace those lost funds, and its been somewhat successful in doing so.

Last month, the group held its first-ever fundraising event to gauge what support there might be in the community and raised several thousand dollars to make up for the lost funding.

At that event, it took in about $2,400 from individuals and $15,000 from WPX Energy.

In addition to the Bacon foundation and Kiwanis, other fundraising requests gained support from the Mesa County Democratic Party and the Western Colorado Community Foundation.

Early next year, the group will hold its annual banquet, which used to be the only event it sponsored to raise private donations.


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