JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — The Denver Foundation is awarding grants to eight schools impacted by school closures in the Jefferson County School District.
Since 2021, nearly two dozen schools have closed in the district and The Denver Foundation’s Strengthening Neighborhoods grants will go to schools that are welcoming students from closed schools.
“We wanted to really focus on all the families that are coming in and how families and principals and staff can support new families coming in,” said David Portillo, The Denver Foundation's strengthening neighborhoods and technical assistance officer. “I think the key thing in those grants is that parents and teachers are involved.”
Portillo said the grants will go toward school projects and wraparound services.
“Summer programming, mental health support, food access… So whatever the community wants to do, really, we don't want to dictate. We want to follow their energy,” Portillo said.
So far, Secrest, Little, Stevens, Fremont, Foothills, and Vanderhoof Elementary Schools, as well as Campbell Early Learning Center and Belmar School of Integrated Arts, have received grants of up to $5,000.
Dale Munholland, Pomona High School social studies teacher, and Jefferson County Education Association vice president said since the school closures began, the transition for teachers, staff, students, and families has been tough.
“If you've been at the same school for a number of years, it's a pretty traumatic experience when your school is being shut down because of low enrollment or other factors,” Munholland said. “This is not a good process for anybody. It's a necessary process, unfortunately.”
Munholland said Pomona High School is preparing for changes as well.
“Moore Middle School will be closing this year and those students will be coming to Pomona next year. And so Pomona will go from being a 9th through 12th grade school to being a 6th through 12th grade school. And you know, there's still unanswered questions that are still kind of being worked through right now,” Munholland said.
Munholland said he’s talked to educators across the district that are still trying to work through challenges.
“Class sizes are going to increase from what they have been in the past. And then there's room constraints within buildings, not enough room for materials and for classrooms,” Munholland said.
Munholland said he’s grateful for The Denver Foundation’s grant opportunities.
“I'm very happy — encouraged — to hear that Ihe Denver Foundation is wanting to do that. And, you know, I would just say, money, time, any counseling support and social emotional help that we could get from any entities in a position to help would be more than welcome,” Munholland said.
Portillo said the foundation looks forward to continuing to provide support to JeffCo schools impacted by closures.