The first Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Colorado sprouted up in 1979 with the purpose of building simple, affordable homes for low-income families and spreading a sense of community. Since then, 28 more affiliates have strapped on their tool belts and joined in. In 2008, Habitat for Humanity of Colorado built its 1,000th home, sparking a campaign to build 1,000 more in the next three years.
When Habitat for Humanity builds a home, it enlists the help of the family who will be living there. They dedicate their time and sweat to completing the project alongside volunteers, neighbors, donors, churches, and other supporters, engendering a spirit of renewal and togetherness. Once they move in, families pay a no-interest mortgage with monthly payments based on 25% of their income. These payments go into a revolving fund that promotes the construction of more homes.
As part of Groundwork Denver’s Porch Bulb Project, volunteers travel door-to-door, offering to exchange incandescent front-porch light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. The initiative saves participants money and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also serving as a simple outreach gesture to help elderly and low-income residents in the community. Groundwork Denver volunteers use the opportunity to talk to community members about other energy-saving steps they can take, including free weatherization, recycling, and other measures.
On the field trips, kids in the Denver Public School District get a chance to interact with nature firsthand rather than merely hearing about it, as in traditional, indoor environmental education programs. SPREE lets students observe the river’s ecosystem and connect to a natural space in the city, an experience that can ideally spark an interest in exploring nature in their free time. With funding aid to cover the costs of park usage, staff, and supplies, SPREE can provide these excursions for youth from low-income families for free.
Reach Out and Read Colorado’s medical partners meet with parents and children at their regular doctors’ visits, starting at the 6-month checkup and continuing through age 5. The organization distributes developmentally appropriate books to more than 82,000 children each year, and its partners discuss with parents the importance of reading aloud to children at an early age. By encouraging reading in young children, Reach Out and Read Colorado aims to increase their vocabularies and strengthen their language skills to prepare them to begin kindergarten.
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education, and advocacy. Despite being one of the most common chromosomal disorders in the country—occurring in 1 out of every 691 births—Down syndrome receives exceptionally low funding compared to other genetic conditions. The foundation helps to make up for the shortfall by hosting fundraisers and conferences, advocating for public policy that benefits those with Down syndrome, and providing programming that allows individuals living with the condition to develop their talents and abilities.
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Smart-Girl, Inc. teaches girls the skills they need to become confident and successful young women. It conducts school programs and leadership camp sessions that tackle difficult issues such as bullying and self-destructive behaviors. During the programs, small groups of girls gather with two high-school- or college-aged guides for activities that promote self-confidence. Lessons on leadership, gender stereotypes, critical thinking, and body image and the media are designed to help participants develop socially and emotionally. The girls can also make friends while creating crafts or listening to music at summer-camp sessions.
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