Grassroots education group planning for future initiatives

At a glance ...

Friends of Moffat County Education target funding initiatives:

• Science, technology, engineering and math: — Annual funding goal: $75,000 to $100,000 or more

• Literacy : — Annual funding goal: $5,000 to $10,000

• Bears Ears Grant for Innovation and Excellence: — Annual funding goal: $15,000

• Black Mountain to Yampa River Fund: — Annual funding goal: $10,000

• Health and wellness initiatives: — Annual funding goal: $2,500

• Cedar Mountain Priority Fund — Annual funding goal: $15,000

With their inaugural project nearly completed, members of a newly formed education group are looking down the road.

Friends of Moffat County Education is wrapping up its 13-3 Book Project, which was designed to gather enough used books and cash donations to give 13,000 books to children in preschool through fifth grade.

The nonprofit organization exceeded its target by about 200 books, said Chris Jones, Friends of Moffat County Education Board president. Moffat County residents can expect to see the Book Project next year. FMCE plans to offer it annually through a literacy initiative, one of the group’s six funding targets.

The next step is to find the financial resources.

“Obviously, we need to raise money to support these things,” Jones said.

FMCE will take a two-pronged approach to raising the money it needs.

An annual fundraiser is in the works, which the group plans to unveil this fall.

In the meantime, members intend to seek funds from other sources, including grants, businesses and individuals, Jones said.

One possible item on FMCE’s project list is putting laptops in the hands of all fifth- through 12th-graders in the school district.

The idea sprang from a North Carolina school district, which saw its test scores rise and its textbook expenses dip after giving students laptops, Jones said.

“It’s something that’s probably not going to happen immediately,” he said, since the project would cost about $400,000.

Still, with a successful fundraising campaign and sizeable matching grant, “It could become a reality,” Jones said.

The group also plans to eventually roll out the Bears Ears Grant for Innovation and Excellence, which teachers could apply for to get extra money for classroom projects.

The grant program, which the group plans to fund to the tune of $15,000 annually, could help educators like Crystal Lytle, a first-grade teacher at Sandrock Elementary School.

On an average month, she spends about $75 of her own money on supplies for her classroom projects — supplies the school’s limited budget can’t cover, she said.

“We don’t really have a whole lot to work with, so if you want to do anything fun and exciting, you’ve kind of got to do it on your own,” Lytle said.

If and when the Bears Ears Grant becomes available, she’d apply for it in a heartbeat.

“Oh, for sure,” she said.

It’s difficult to say when this and other FMCE projects take off, Jones said.

But, if future initiatives get the same response as the 13-3 Book Project, the group may have reason to hope.

“We were pleasantly surprised” at the book drive’s reception, Jones said.

And, although getting FMCE fully on its feet may take time, “We’re very excited for where it’s going and what it can be,” he said.

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