Grant will boost volunteers, aid in forest management

Southwest Conservation Corps to receive $577,000

The Southwest Conservation Corps, an environmental stewardship nonprofit with headquarters in Durango, will receive $577,000 in grant funding for 2013, courtesy of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that supports volunteerism.

The money will pay transportation, equipment and living expenses for about 240 AmeriCorps volunteers in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. Trail maintenance and tree thinning in the San Juan National Forest are high on next year’s priority list, said Corps CEO and President Harry Bruell. Other tentative projects on the agenda include removal of invasive species from lakes and public lands, and energy-efficient retrofits of low-income housing.

AmeriCorps grants are given in three-year increments, but each recipient organization must draft a continuation request after the first year to reauthorize funding.

The grants are contingent on congressional budgeting decisions, so there are no guarantees funding will remain the same amount in years two and three. But Bruell is grateful for the initial approval.

“We are just coming to the end of a funding cycle in 2012,” he said. “We’re pleased the money will continue another three years, barring appropriations changes.”

Bruell said volunteering is an increasingly popular option among young people. Last year, the Corps received 2,000 more applications than positions available.

“They are hungry to serve, get involved, make a difference and work hard,” he said.

Beside Southwest Conservation Corps, three other Denver-based organizations won AmeriCorps grants.

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall-D, Colo., announced the four grant winners.

“During hard economic times, volunteers and service initiatives can fill the gaps to ensure we maintain quality of life for all Coloradans,” he said in a news release. “I want to congratulate these organizations for pledging to use these grant funds to better their communities.”

Other Colorado grant recipients:

Regis University (Denver): $962,000 for 4,000 AmeriCorps volunteers to increase primary and preventive health-care access among underserved populations in Colorado, Arizona, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Mile High Youth Corps (Denver): $736,000 alloted to 158 AmeriCorps volunteers for fire fuel management, trail rehabilitation and at-risk ecosystem restoration.

Colorado Parent and Child Foundation (Denver): $266,500 to help 38 AmeriCorps volunteers provide home-based, parent-involved instruction to preschool children in seven Colorado counties, to prepare them for elementary school.

lgroskopf@durangoherald.com

Comments » Read and share your thoughts on this story