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Durango Education Foundation awards School District 9-R $100,000

Bridge the Gap campaign provides additional funding for middle school students
Durango School District 9-R received $100,000 from the Durango Education Foundation on Tuesday for middle school math and literacy improvement efforts. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Durango Education Foundation awarded Durango School District 9-R $100,000 for the Bridge the Gap Campaign on Tuesday in addition to the $250,000 given in April.

The campaign was started to help learning retention after impacts of COVID-19 affected learning during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years.

Bridge the Gap helps fund after-school programs, text books, early literacy and math programs as well as socio-emotional support programs.

“Our mission is to close the gap in literacy and mathematics,” said Durango Education Foundation Executive Director Diana Cruz. “The first check primarily focused on elementary levels and the second check will focus on the middle school level.”

The funding will go toward reading intervention, math intervention, after-school tutoring, middle school math software and literature for different level readers.

She said the campaign has been successful so far as there has been an increase in Colorado Measures of Academic Success test scores.

“The median growth between free and reduced lunch and non-free and reduced lunch students is similar, which indicates a gap is closing,” she said.

In 2019, the district ranked 53rd in the state in English Language Arts and in 2022 ranked 36th. In math, the district ranked 63rd in 2019 and increased to rank 36th in the state in 2022.

“Durango Education Foundation has been a fantastic partner in supporting our students and recognizing post-pandemic needs,” said 9-R Superintendent Karen Cheser. “We are unified and energized as a district to close the gap in learning and help our resilient students bounce back from a tough couple of years.”

One of the projects funded by the Bridge the Gap campaign was the Summer Bridge Program which sought to help learning retention while students were on summer break by providing students with workbooks they had to complete.

Money for Bridge the Gap is provided by private donors and large business entities like Bank of Colorado and Morehart Murphy Regional Auto Center.

Cruz said Durango Educational Foundation bases its fundraising around the needs of the school district.

“Some of it is from what the parents are looking for, like student engagement, student activity and how to encourage students to become more interested in studying or in school studies,” Cruz said.

Computer coding classes and elementary school Spanish classes are two areas in which the organization is thinking about campaigning for next.

In total, the Bridge the Gap campaign has raised $350,000 for the school district but has also committed $130,000 in grant funding to 9-R classrooms.

While the Bridge the Gap campaign raises money for 9-R, Cruz said the organization is open to helping other school districts or schools not within the district fund-raise.

tbrown@durangoherald.com

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