If you are registered for Denver Startup Week from September 16 – 20th, 2013, here are a few reasons you should cast your only vote for the Cottonwood Institute:
What is the Cottonwood Institute (CI)? CI is a 501(c)3 nonprofit on a mission to connect students to the outdoors and empower them to tackle local issues to improve their schools, the community, and the environment for future generations. CI believes that students can’t be expected to care about the environment if they never have a chance to explore the outdoors.
What do CI students do during our programs? During our core programs for schools and youth organizations, students go on hikes, overnight camping trips, learn about, discuss, and research local issues, choose an issue to address as a class, and collaborate with other local organizations to design and implement a student-directed Action Project to positively address their issue.
What is CI’s Change Theory? We believe anybody can change the world. Our programs teach students the skills they need to ignite change, not just talk about it. Our change theory is: Gift + Issue = Change. Every student has a gift and when they apply it to an issue they are passionate about they will change themselves, which will ripple out to their friends and family, their schools, their communities, the environment, and the world!
What have students accomplished? Students wrote a grant to get a $32,000 solar panel system installed at their school and won, planted The Kitchen Community Learning Gardens to grow local food to help feed the homeless, and have completed water sampling projects at local watersheds and executed an awareness campaign to help prevent storm drain pollution.
How do CI programs teach entrepreneurship values to youth in the community? While CI programs do not teach entrepreneurship in terms of technical business skills, students actively volunteer and develop the foundation they need to become future social entrepreneurs and philanthropists. During our overnight camping trips, students learn to work together as a group, push themselves physically and mentally, learn about stewardship and sustainability, develop their work ethic, and practice leadership skills. While completing their Action Project, students practice critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration.
What will CI do with the funds if it wins? CI accomplishes a lot with a limited operating budget, 3 full-time employees, and a network of 15 contract instructors to deliver its educational programs. Every dollar CI receives is critical to ensuring it can continue to deliver high quality, high impact programs. Funding from Chase Community Giving will help provide an experience of a lifetime to low income public school students at Casa de la Esperanza, Colorado Youth For A Change, and STRIVE Preparatory Schools who otherwise would not have an opportunity to participate in our programs and funding will help CI leverage funding from other local foundations and businesses.