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AmeriCorps Was Made for Times Like These Cultivating Safer, Healthier, and Stronger Communities Across Colorado

Impact Report to the Community

When the pandemic reached Colorado in March 2020, AmeriCorps members sprang into action with creative solutions to serve our communities.

Serve Colorado executed a swift, sweeping, and strong COVID-19 response, and all AmeriCorps programs adapted to meet the most pressing needs of their communities.

We collaborated with statewide partners to launch Colorado’s COVID Containment Response Corps (CCRC). The vast majority of those serving in the CCRC were AmeriCorps members and alumni. In addition, our AmeriCorps programs found numerous ways to support students during difficult remote learning and helped struggling families put food on the table.

All the while, we continued making progress to protect our environment and supporting greater diversity, equity, and inclusion among our ranks.

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Learn more about how our programs made an impact.

2020 by the Numbers

650 AmeriCorps Members

534,704 hours served

151 service sites

$2,396,628 education awards

Segal Education Awards support past or future higher education or vocational training expenses. Members receive them upon completing their term.

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OUR PROGRAMS | COVID-19 RESPONSE

Fighting the spread of COVID-19 with collaboration

78% of staff in the COVID Containment Response Corps were AmeriCorps members or alumni.
59,446 people were served by the timely response of this program.

COVID Containment Response Corps

AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers made up the heart of Colorado’s COVID Containment Response Corps (CRCC) in 2020.

In the spring of 2020, a statewide collaboration formed the CCRC to increase capacity for Local Public Health Authorities to respond to rising COVID-19 cases.

Members’ activities included case investigation, contact tracing, resource coordination, test-result notification, and isolation and quarantine monitoring.

This impactful partnership has garnered national attention and served as a model for other states looking to strengthen their COVID-19 response.

CRCC Partners

  • AmeriCorps NCCC
  • AmeriCorps State and National
  • AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP
  • AmeriCorps VISTA
  • Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
  • Comcast
  • Community Resource Center
  • Conservation Legacy
  • Cultivate
  • Gary Community Investments
  • Volunteers of America Colorado
“I joined the Containment Response Corps to not only help stop the spread, but to bring positivity and vital resources to individuals and their families. The service my team and I provided to our community had a major impact. From grocery delivery to bill assistance during unemployment, we provided help and information that made them feel supported.” - Emily Hadsell, AmeriCorps NCCC, Jefferson County

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“Through my time working alongside the COVID Containment Response Corps, my team traced hundreds of positive cases in Colorado through contact tracing. It is fulfilling to know that we did our part to help mitigate the spread of the disease.” - Gabe Cohen, AmeriCorps NCCC, Boulder County

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“The most rewarding part of my AmeriCorps experience has been connecting with others in such a disconnected time. It's great to know that at the end of the day, despite a global pandemic, people are still caring for one another.” - Jordan Robertson, AmeriCorps VISTA, Denver/Jefferson/El Paso Counties

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"Joining forces with people who all have varying and unique motivations, backgrounds, and strengths is powerful. We all share the common desire to serve and do good for our greater community; to unite behind that in the face of this pandemic provides a sense of comradery and reassurance. These feelings are not only felt by myself and those who work alongside me, but also by those who we contact and assist. I'm glad to have done this." - AmeriCorps State Member

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"Like many, I missed community and human connection during the early times of pandemic protocols. I signed up to be part of the organized approach to decrease the spread of COVID and utilize my skills and flexible schedule to help others." - Susan Wannamaker, AmeriCorps Senior Volunteer

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OUR PROGRAMS | EDUCATION

Engagement in an age of remote learning

7,100 students were engaged and served this year, despite the challenges posed by remote learning.

Our education programs retooled to continue serving kids in virtual classrooms and afterschool programs.

Recognizing the challenge many students encounter with virtual learning, Serve Colorado repurposed awarded funds to utilize 44 members to reconnect disengaged students.

Alpine Achievers Initiative placed 10 members to expand tutoring, provide behavioral support, and spend one-on-one time with students in the San Luis Valley. Corps for a Change and Colorado Reading Corps placed 34 AmeriCorps members to support K-12 students with virtual learning along the Front Range by providing socially distanced home visits, helping to overcome language barriers at home, and whatever other support students needed to succeed.

“I love to hear students excitedly talk about their futures, despite adversities. I love to see their faces when they choose to turn their cameras on. I love when they utilize our brave space to share some of their story with me. I love that I am a familiar (virtual) face to students this year.” - Gabriella (left), Corps for a Change Member

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Alpine Achievers Initiative

25 AmeriCorps members served students in rural south-central Colorado, offering math tutoring, literacy tutoring, and one-on-one time with students.

Photo: An Alpine Achievers Initiative member facilitates a science lesson.

Members also provided behavioral support to help students focus longer and reduce disruptive behaviors during class.

When schools switched to remote learning in March, members got creative to provide virtual out-of-school time programming and created videos on art, geography, history, and more to share with their students.

Members worked with local agencies to distribute 20 gallons of hand sanitizer, 200 masks, and more than 1,000 meals.

Alpine Achievers' Green Screen videos were created to stay connected with students in south-central Colorado and engage them in art, history, and more.

City Year Denver

City Year Denver partnered with Denver Public Schools to place young adults in schools to provide individual support to students in need of extra attention.

Photo: City Year members send a virtual message to their students.
The program placed 82 AmeriCorps members in nine Denver Public Schools.

When school went remote, City Year Denver AmeriCorps members held virtual office hours with students, made attendance calls, and hosted virtual clubs and events to maintain social connection. Members became fully integrated into remote learning, supporting partner teachers by monitoring chats, facilitating break-out sessions, and recording literacy and math learning materials.

City Year’s members provided virtual math lessons in 2020. Lily, an AmeriCorps member, recorded herself explaining a challenging math concept that she and her partner teacher knew their 8th grade students were struggling to understand.

Corps for a Change

A program of Colorado Youth for a Change

Corps for a Change engaged off-track or disengaged high school students to prevent them from dropping out.

Photo: A Corps for A Change AmeriCorps member shared her "why" in this photo from summer 2020.

27 AmeriCorps members assisted students in 2020 through case management, home visits, phone calls, tutoring, and resource referral.

An additional 34 AmeriCorps members served as student engagement specialists in school districts along the Front Range, serving elementary through high school students.

Since mid-September, more than 1,500 students struggling with remote learning have been served.
288 supportive service plans were created to refer families to various resources, including mental health counseling and food assistance.

Following safety guidelines, members have conducted home visits to help students and families navigate technical challenges. Members have also helped families overcome language barriers by bringing translated handouts and recording instructional videos in Spanish, ensuring families have the information needed for their students' success in the virtual environment.

One AmeriCorps Member in Greeley was referred to a student by a teacher. The student had recently moved to the U.S., didn’t speak English, and had a speech disability that had impacted his previous learning. Remote learning was just too much. The AmeriCorps member started to provide one-on-one support and the student was able to get online. The student wanted to learn and just needed that one-on-one connection to help navigate the process, to show “I’ve got you.”

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"My experience in school is different. Knowing she is going to be here [makes me] want to come because I know I will get some encouraging words and have a smile on my face…I have a safe space to talk to someone I trust." - Student served by a Corps for a Change member

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“My experiences seeing the effects of COVID-19 on my students, family, and workplace inspired me to allocate some of my AmeriCorps hours more broadly to serving my local community. I have sorted food, assembled boxes, and handed out meals to community members in need. Now more than ever my service feels urgent, necessary.” - Morgan, Corps for Change Member

Colorado Reading Corps

A program of Colorado Youth for a Change

Colorado Reading Corps focused on improving literacy of students in kindergarten through third grade.

Photo: A Reading Corps Member tutoring behind plexiglass.

This program placed 72 AmeriCorps members to deliver one-on-one reading interventions to students who were below grade level with additional before- and after-school enrichment.

999 students received literacy support through Colorado Reading Corps in 2020.

When the pandemic forced schools to shift to remote learning, Reading Corps AmeriCorps members provided online reading interventions and tutoring for grades K-3. Reading Corps also has AmeriCorps members serving in two preschools. When in person, members were embedded in preschool classrooms working individually with students.

“AmeriCorps is helping the community by working to close the reading gap that continues to grow bigger every year. Reading is such an important aspect of life. It's a necessity to know how to read just to be able to function in everyday society, let alone succeed at school or a job one day. AmeriCorps gets to contribute to building a more educated and confident community." - Daphnee Denney, Colorado Reading Corps Member

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Colorado State University Extension 4-H STEM Initiative

13 AmeriCorps members provided after-school science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programming to underserved and at-risk youth.

Photo: Take-home STEM kits called "Birdfeeder in a Bag" were delivered to students to provide engaging activities during remote learning.

These programs help youth develop 21st-century workforce skills, stay on track to graduate from high school, and consider STEM academic and career choices.

Members found creative ways to continue reaching students during the pandemic, from delivering at-home STEM kits and creating live videos of experiments that students can do at home to 3D-printing personal protective equipment.

"Garfield county has really benefited from the AmeriCorps members. The members stuck with it during the pandemic transition and what they accomplished was awesome!" – Kaycee Manuppella, Site Supervisor, Garfield County Extension

Colorado HIPPYCorps

A program of Parent Possible

Colorado HIPPYCorps delivers the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) curriculum.

Photo: A HIPPYCorps member delivers materials to a family.

Through the program, 49 AmeriCorps members made weekly visits to families with children ages 2-5 years to ensure school readiness. During each visit, the member role-played an activity packet with the parent, so the parent could then complete the activity with their child throughout the week.

When COVID-19 made it impossible to continue in-person visits, AmeriCorps members continued to meet with families virtually, delivering books and other materials for parents to use with their children.

796 children received education support through this program in 2020.

In June, one HIPPY Service Site — the Focus Points Family Resource Center — provided a year-end drive-through celebration for families that had completed the program.

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OUR PROGRAMS | WORKING TOWARD FOOD SECURITY

Putting food on the table during economic crisis

As the pandemic heightened food insecurity, AmeriCorps members stepped up.

Across Colorado, demand at food pantries increased even as older volunteers could no longer staff food pantries due to restrictions. Many members jumped in to help, even if providing food relief was not what they were originally signed up to do.

Highlights include:

  • 18 HIPPYCorps members in Pueblo distributed food to 28,000 people in addition to continuing their home education visits virtually.
  • Youth Corps for Colorado Energy and Water Conservation Corps distributed 46,000 bags of food and served 6,625 meals to individuals experiencing homelessness when COVID-19 made their regular service of installing energy-efficiency measures in low-income homes unsafe.
  • Alpine Achievers Initiative delivered 1,000 meals to students learning remotely during the fall semester.

Mountain Roots Healthy Futures

A program of Mountain Roots Food Project and Trailhead Institute

Mountain Roots Healthy Futures placed 15 AmeriCorps members that provided nutrition and environmental education, community and school gardens, and increased access to healthy food.

Photo: Trisha, an AmeriCorps member with Mountain Roots Healthy Futures, prepares food as part of the program's COVID-19 response.

When the pandemic hit, Mountain Roots became an integral part of the food relief system.

AmeriCorps members provided logistics to grow more fresh food in the community, gathering community volunteers, local gardeners and local food producers. Members also partnered with restaurants to rescue food and distribute it through a new free-market model.

3,909 pounds of food were distributed and 9,946 pounds of meals were provided through the program in 2020.

AmeriCorps members funneled information to their communities on COVID-19 testing, symptoms, contact tracing and public health measures. They also created seed starter kits to foster learning from home and continued to connect 100 families to the outdoors/nature.

AmeriCorps members also broke ground on a new farm near Crested Butte and revived victory gardens in dozens of backyards across the valley to increase the local fresh food supply.

Rural Alliance for Dignity

A program of La Puente Home

Rural Alliance for Dignity (RAD) is a consortium of community-based organizations serving severely under-resourced, geographically diverse, rural communities in the San Luis Valley.

Photo: AmeriCorps member Elaina Alzaibak hands out Thanksgiving Turkeys for La Puente's Food Bank Network at a food bank in Alamosa.

59 AmeriCorps members adapted their service to safely continue serving the area’s most vulnerable populations throughout the pandemic.

Members addressed unmet needs such as housing, emergency food assistance, garden science, nutrition education, and social, emotional, and academic support services.

AmeriCorps members at Mt. Carmel Wellness and Community Center helped quickly transition their health and wellness classes to the virtual environment. The class offerings included physical activity, healthy cooking, and creative arts for kids and adults. Classes were often full and participants were grateful to have avenues to stay healthy and connected during the pandemic.

Photo: Rural Alliance for Dignity AmeriCorps members Hazen Roe and Sophia Butler provided Cooking for Seniors classes virtually at their service site at Mt. Carmel.

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"This year, Valley Educational Gardens Initiative (VEGI) member Sabine Meyer-Hill made a graceful transition from educational gardening activities to preparing sacked lunches and dinners to be distributed to the homeless population in Alamosa. She was a huge help at our local Food Bank." -Local Supervisor

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Hugh Poland, an AmeriCorps member serving with the volunteer coordination program, effortlessly worked with the food bank program to adjust programming to incorporate social distancing practices while still providing clients access to healthy food.

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"Emma's availability for tutoring during the shutdown was the only reason any learning took place for my kiddo." - Parent from the Boys and Girls Club of the High Rockies in Bailey

TeamUP AmeriCorps

A program of United Way of Southwest Colorado

TeamUP AmeriCorps placed 11 members to improve child and family wellbeing. Members coached families on early literacy, provided food to those who needed it, and mentored children after school.

Photo: TeamUP AmeriCorps member Sam Lewarchick led an online Lava Lamp workshop for the Boys and Girls Club in La Plata County.

Each member pitched in to support families remotely when possible or by staffing food pantries. In addition, many members piloted creative programs that engaged students and families in extracurricular activities and support, despite restrictions.

One AmeriCorps member was responsible for implementing LENA Home, a word-tracking program that helps families increase interactive talk with their young children. The member continued to serve families remotely when the pandemic hit by safely dropping off equipment and providing support virtually.

Another member organized a safe, outdoor art show for the local Boys & Girls Club. Family and friends supported the young artists' work displayed on the walls of a local coffee shop, and students got to experience how to be showcased artists and good patrons of the arts.

Still other members provided critical mental health support, curriculum development, and other supports that contributed to students' academic performance, safety, and social and emotional well-being.

“As a food pantry, we were at ground zero of the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. We immediately had to completely change the way we operated and take on additional work as our regular volunteers were unable to continue in their normal roles. Our AmeriCorps member's response to this upheaval was remarkable. She helped to keep the pantry open, successfully adjusted operating procedures for efficiency, and safely provided emergency food assistance.” -Kirbi Vaughn, Good Samaritan Center Food Pantry

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"In our rural area, the Food Equity/Food Systems Coalition quickly formed a response team and coordinated efforts to make sure our community remained fed. We made sure local schools were included in meal distribution efforts. We were also able to continue teaching students through online lessons and take-home garden kits." - Lexi Bernstein, AmeriCorps Member at Pagosa Peak Open School in Archuleta County

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"The pandemic completely shifted our programs. We upped the number of times families could come to the pantry. Because of the increased food demand, we also became a distribution center to store mass amounts of supplies that would then be shared out to other food organizations and communities like Navajo Nation. We collaborated with other organizations to get the supplies out to where they were most needed." - Leah Smith, AmeriCorps Member, Good Samaritan Center Food Pantry

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OUR PROGRAMS | ENVIRONMENT

Protecting our environment

Serve Colorado enhanced conservation efforts and environmental education through its AmeriCorps programs. In addition, Serve Colorado launched initiatives to fight climate change.

Serve Colorado joined the Colorado Interagency Climate Team, which will launch the Colorado Climate Corps in 2021 to equip local governments and organizations with expert capacity to take action on climate issues.

In addition, Serve Colorado awarded a planning grant to ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, which began developing an AmeriCorps program to increase the capacity of Colorado organizations and local governments to address climate change. ICLEI will apply to launch their AmeriCorps program in 2021.

Youth Corps for Colorado

A program of the Colorado Youth Corps Association

AmeriCorps members in Youth Corps for Colorado performed disaster relief and mitigation activities, protected and strengthened outdoor recreation infrastructure, and installed energy efficiency measures in the homes of low-income families.

295 members served in five conservation corps across 48 counties.
Photo: Cody, a Youth Corps AmeriCorps member, removes an invasive thistle during a clean up project.

During COVID-19, many Youth Corps for Colorado members continued their regular service with some adaptations. Others changed direction, serving at local food banks.

During March and April, Youth Corps for Colorado members served 13,344 meals, collected or distributed 120,000 pounds of food, and sorted 96,000 pounds of donations.

Mile High Youth Corps created a video highlighting the vital activities AmeriCorps members performed to help communities facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The crew was excellent! They worked every day in near 100 degree weather and never gave up and impressed our staff greatly.” – Lee Carstensen, Parks Supervisor, Pueblo Parks and Recreation
Youth Corps for Colorado AmeriCorps members supported a variety of conservation efforts across the state in 2020.

Environmental Education Corps

A program of the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education

The Environmental Education Corps (eeCorps) program launched in 2020, placing 12 AmeriCorps members at nonprofits and schools around the state to provide equitable environmental education experiences.

Photo: An AmeriCorps member leads students on an educational hike.

Members focused on increasing environmental literacy for PreK-12 students and implementing the goals outlined in the Colorado Environmental Education Plan.

Story From Environmental Education Corps

"The children of Garnet Mesa lined up and screamed as they jumped on their bikes. Blue, yellow, and orange frames glistened in the dull November sun...

Then, silence. Before them, I raised my arms to the clouds, as big as a Juniper, reigning their attention. "Ride!" I dropped my arms violently as dust filled the air. Bikes shot forward, leaving but a few students behind. Lydia couldn't ride and was left behind.

Minutes pass. Lydia felt discouraged. The rest of the students pedaled away towards the obstacle course as she finally accepted my help.

"I can't do it, Andrew," she softly admitted. "Yes, you can," I said encouragingly.

I showed her the proper starting position of the pedals and then the basics of movement and balance. I told her "the hardest part is getting going, then you just have to believe in yourself and keep on pedaling!" I gave her a push and there she went, riding carefully across the schoolyard.

This moment defines my AmeriCorps service because a student went from immense frustration to total confidence in one moment. That light went off signaling a new skill learned. The Nature Connection exists for this reason: to create a spark that ignites a lifetime of positive life experiences. I know that this moment changed Lydia, and even though I won't be around to see it, I believe that it will shape her relationship to the challenging, the unknown, and the next tier of growth."

-Andrew (pictured), AmeriCorps member serving at The Nature Connection in Hotchkiss, Colo.

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LOOKING AHEAD

2021: Continuing response and recovery

In 2021, Serve Colorado will sustain its response to the impacts of COVID-19.

AmeriCorps members will continue to provide the majority of the day-to-day people power needed to contain the spread of COVID-19 through the COVID-19 Containment Response Corps. Members will also help with long-term recovery efforts, such as addressing the learning loss that many youth have suffered.

2021 GOAL

Launch Colorado Climate Corps

Following a year of record-breaking wildfires, Serve Colorado and 32 climate staff from 15 agencies will launch a Colorado Climate Corps program. The Corps will:

  • Empower local governments and organizations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create clean energy jobs, and support the transition of workers into clean energy roles.
  • Develop the next generation of climate action leaders.

2021 GOAL

Expand Diversity and Inclusion

In 2020, we provided opportunities for Serve Colorado staff, program staff, and AmeriCorps members to expand their knowledge of diversity and inclusion practices. These efforts included:

  • Creating the Member Advisory Committee to increase member perspectives in the development of training and engagement activities.
  • Hosting a workshop on intersectionality, privilege, and marginalization and a panel discussion on supporting people with disabilities during the regional AmeriCorps member conferences.
  • Organizing the “Inclusive Excellence” workshop for AmeriCorps program staff during their annual AmeriCorps grants management training.
  • Joining America’s Service Commission’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Cohort which provided further opportunities for staff to learn and grow in this space.

In 2021, we will prioritize this work by reviewing our policies with a diversity and inclusion lens, exploring ways to help state AmeriCorps programs become more inclusive, and providing educational opportunities to our staff, AmeriCorps staff, and members.

2021 GOAL

Increase Volunteer Engagement

Serve Colorado will expand its engagement of community volunteers across the state through the Volunteer Generation Fund and participation in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, Cesar Chavez Day, and September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance.

In 2020, Spark the Change Colorado used the Volunteer Generation Fund, a national program to help boost the impact of volunteers, to increase access to mental health services and train organizations to strategically leverage volunteers. Spark the Change Colorado expanded access to free mental health services in Pueblo, Broomfield, and surrounding counties by engaging 32 additional licensed mental health professionals.

In addition, mental wellness volunteers provided counseling and case management services to more than 200 women experiencing homelessness who were living in the auxiliary shelters at the Denver Coliseum because of COVID-19. Spark the Change also used these funds to train organizations to be Service Enterprises, organizations that strategically leverage volunteers to achieve operational efficiency, and greater social impact.

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About Serve Colorado

Serve Colorado empowers community-based organizations to meet locally identified needs and statewide challenges through service and volunteerism.

Guided by the Governor's Commission on Community Service, Serve Colorado administers AmeriCorps Colorado, a national domestic service program; early literacy initiatives; and Days of Service to promote volunteerism.

AmeriCorps members serve with nonprofit and faith-based organizations as well as state and local governments dedicated to the improvement of communities.

Serve Colorado funds these AmeriCorps programs:

  • Alpine Achievers Initiative
  • City Year Denver
  • Colorado State University Extension 4-H STEM Initiative
  • Colorado HIPPYCorps
  • Colorado Reading Corps
  • Corps for a Change
  • COVID Containment Response Corps
  • Environmental Education Corps
  • ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability (Planning Grant)
  • Mountain Roots Healthy Futures
  • Rural Alliance for Dignity
  • Spark the Change Colorado (Volunteer Generation Fund)
  • TeamUP AmeriCorps
  • Youth Corps for Colorado

Let's Work Together

Find out how to partner with us so we can expand service in Colorado.

Do you want to make an impact in your community?

AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers serve with organizations to strengthen communities across our nation.

Do you need people power to create change in your community?

AmeriCorps is here to work with you. Every year, Serve Colorado and AmeriCorps provide funding to place AmeriCorps members with nonprofit, faith-based, and community organizations.

Do you want to stay up-to-date on the latest Serve Colorado News?

Sign-up to receive updates from Serve Colorado on funding, service opportunities, and special initiatives.

Serve Colorado

1776 Lincoln, Ste. 800, Denver, CO 80203

This material is based upon work supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Nos. 19tahco001 and 19cahco001. Opinions or points of view expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of, or a position that is endorsed by, CNCS.

Credits:

Created with an image by dawn2dawn - "aspens fall autumn"