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Durango Education Foundation hands over $250,000 donation to 9-R school district

Money will go toward programs that expand learning beyond the classroom
Durango School District 9-R representatives accept a check for $250,000 on Thursday from the Durango Education Foundation to be used for after-school and summer programs for students. (Nicholas A. Johnson/Durango Herald)

Durango School District 9-R received its first check for $250,000 from the Durango Education Foundation on Thursday as part of the foundation’s Bridge the Gap program.

“We are extremely grateful to have a partner like Durango Education Foundation, who has been diligent and dedicated to supporting our students,” said 9-R Superintendent Karen Cheser. “This is beyond our wildest dreams.”

Half of the money presented by DEF was raised by people and companies within the Durango community. The other half was matched by DEF as part of its Bridge the Gap program.

“The Idea of the Bridge the Gap campaign was to work with the school district board in order to find funds for things that wouldn’t otherwise be funded by their typical sources,” said DEF board member Tom Geyer.

Geyer said the idea behind the Bridge the Gap program is to address gaps in learning that were amplified during the pandemic.

“There was a definite need for kids who didn’t have as many resources as others, literacy being one of them,” he said.

Cheser said the money from DEF will be added to funding the district received from the federal government to fill in gaps. The money will largely go toward programs that support literacy, science, technology, engineering and math.

“What this will allow us to do is expand our programming beyond the school day so that after school and in the summer we can really engage students in powerful instruction and activities that might not be typical in the classroom,” she said.

DEF has been collecting for the Bridge the Gap program since November, and hopes to raise another $100,000 with an additional $100,000 match by DEF by the end of the school year.

“One of our big donors who donated at the $25,000 level include Morehart Murphy Regional Auto Center,” said DEF Executive Director Diana Cruz. “Some who donated at the $10,000 level include La Plata Electric Association, the Bronson family with McDonald’s, the Maple family with Coca-Cola and the Wells Group.”

Coming in May, the DEF will hold its annual golf tournament, where Geyer said the foundation hopes to get more donations and move closer to its goal of an additional $100,000 for the school district.

“We’re hoping that this raises some more awareness in the community. There’s only so much networking we have,” he said. “We would love to hand out another check to create a bigger difference, but we need the community’s support to do that.”


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