Practice makes perfect.
That's the philosophy El Pomar Youth in Community Service students are embracing.
During a grant-making workshop Wednesday evening, students from the northwest region gathered at Craig City Hall to perfect their interviewing skills.
The El Pomar Foundation asks Colorado high school students to distribute grant money the foundation gives them. EPYCS students must raise $500, then the foundation gives them $7,500 to divvy among qualifying agencies.
During mock interviews, area students asked community leaders posing as executive directors about their organizations and grant requests.
"It gives the students the opportunity to learn about how to look at applications and make decisions," said Corrie Scott, Moffat County High School's EPYCS adviser.
By the end of the evening, students divided the theoretical $8,000 among the agencies, just as they will do with actual organizations in the coming months.
"We are the only region I know of that's doing this," said Anita Allen, El Pomar Foundation adviser for the northwest region of the volunteer actors being community leaders. "So the students are getting a little extra treat today."
Typically, clubs use advisers for actors. But Scott asked residents who volunteer locally to participate.
The community leaders included NAPA Auto Parts owner John Ponikvar, Habitat for Humanity President Marilyn Bouldin, businessman and former mayor Dave DeRose, Moffat County School District Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan and Yampa Valley Partners Director Audrey Danner.
"I think you're community leaders," Danner told the students. "We're counting on you guys."
Moffat County, Hayden, Meeker and Soroco high schools were represented at the workshop. The region also includes Steamboat Springs High and Lowell Whiteman schools, but neither could attend Wednesday.
Students will use the information they learned Wednesday in their actual grant-giving process.
Statewide, the program will donate about $1.1 million this year. The program is in place at 140 schools in 60 of 64 counties, Allen said.
Moffat County EPYCS students received 30 applications. They will review the applications, conduct interviews and decide how many organizations to fund and for how much.
Organizations applying for the money must be a 501(c)3 non-profits and fall under the school's mission statement. Moffat County's mission statement includes agencies that focus on education, youth and family.
Applications were due Friday. Students will make their decisions by March 16 and present the receiving agencies with their funds at an awards ceremony May 16 in Steamboat.
Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or firstname.lastname@example.org.