Bessie Minor Swift Foundation awards $86K in grants, including Nevada County programs |

Bessie Minor Swift Foundation awards $86K in grants, including Nevada County programs

The Union staff

The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation, formed by the owners and founder of Swift Communications, awards grants to programs that promote literacy, reading and writing skills as well as programs that focus on languages, sciences and interdisciplinary areas.

Since 2008, more than $700,000 has been awarded to organizations in the communities where Swift Communications, parent company of The Union in Grass Valley and the Sierra Sun in Truckee, conducts business.

Among the 2020 recipients are eight Nevada County organizations.

The deadline for 2020 grant applications was Feb. 15 and more than 83 applications were received. The foundation;s grant criteria calls for detail about the number of people who will be impacted by the organization’s project and how significant a role the Bessie Minor Swift Foundation will play in the program. Further, applicants must provide a complete description of the project including objectives and strategies to meet those objectives, explain how the project will be evaluated and submit a budget. Recipients will report on their results and insights from their program once the projects are completed.

“This year, applications were of exceptional quality and more than $86,000 has been awarded to 39 deserving organizations from five states,” a news release states. “The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation thanks the many groups that took the time and energy to apply and encourages those that were not selected to submit applications in the future.”

Applications will be accepted again starting Jan. 1, 2021 with a deadline of Feb. 15, 2021. For more information, visit the Bessie Minor website at

2020 Bessie Minor Swift Foundation Grants


Nevada County

Chicago Park School District, Clear Creek School, Yuba River Charter School; Grass Valley: $3,000 (for each school) — Students in the 2nd-5th grades will receive hands-on, standards-aligned instruction through a forest experience or watershed education. Field experiences will be followed by an aquatic biology lab. This program is done in partnership with Sierra Streams Institute. At the end of their experiences students exchange letters with students at another rural school, adding processing, presentation and sharing scientific knowledge elements to the program.

Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation, Grass Valley: $3,000 — Books will be purchased and given to children at well-child medical visits. The Read Me a Story program provides books to children in rural western Nevada County age six months to five years. With these funds Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation hopes to add books in English or Spanish for children 6-8.

The Friendship Club, Grass Valley: $1,000 — The “Future Fridays” program allows young women to gather and meet a professional in a field of interest and visit a business for an immersive experience into the world of work. Past visits have included visiting a florist to see what is involved in putting together a bouquet, learning welding skills at a local metal working shop and visiting a supermarket to learn what happens behind the scenes. Funds will be used for program materials, transportation and meal costs.

Women of Worth, Nevada City: $2,680 — Funds will support execution of the first of nine modules in a Financial Literacy program called “Budgeting to Make Ends Meet”. This program is designed to help women of domestic violence living at the Women of Worth Hetty’s Haven. Funds will allow Women of Worth to implement a two-month pilot module that will help finalize format and content specifically designed to meet the needs of women of domestic violence.

Williams Ranch Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization, Penn Valley: $3,000 — STEM kits will be purchased and kept in the school library for teachers to check out and use in the classroom. These funds would purchase Sphero SPRK+ Classroom packs and associated STEM materials. Williams Ranch has a number of Title One students and is underserved in terms of STEM education.

Tahoe Truckee School of Music, Truckee: $2,500 — 25 instruments will be purchased to be used by students who qualify for the school lunch program. The instruments will be provided free of charge as long as they continue to take lessons. Lessons are provided at a 50% discount. Instruments will also be taken into the schools for demonstrations so that students can both hear and play the instruments.

El Dorado County

Bijou Community School PTA, South Lake Tahoe: $3,000 — A burgeoning STEAM program that will bring drumming lessons to 22 classes (k-5) will be supported with these funds. Each lesson introduces a new culture and drum while giving further understanding of musical techniques, rhythm and pulse. Language skills relating rhythms to word syllables and beat sequences relating to mathematics are emphasized. Funds will pay for instruction and serve 540 students.

Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe: $3,000 — A math intervention club will serve 5 children per session with 8 sessions per week (40 children). Students in this district are currently 48.9 points below the State standards for math. Funds will be used to pay for instruction costs. Sessions will be separated by age and help in English and Spanish. The club will run for one academic year and regular tests will ensure student progress.


Lyon County

Get in the Act! Arts in Action, Dayton: $2,845 — Get in the Act! Arts in Action will deliver a two-week interdisciplinary Science Theater program at Tahoe Valley Elementary School. This will advance art and science learning for 300 students through a program that is particularly effective at reaching non-traditional learners and educates across all backgrounds, races and socioeconomic levels.

Washoe County

Tahoe Institute for Natural Science, Incline Village: $2,500 — This grant will support program fees, materials and transportation for nineteen 1-hour classroom programs and 10 Bird Club sessions (including purchase of journals for birding) over two semesters. These programs will be brought to all K-5 classrooms at Incline Elementary School with the goals of awakening students’ curiosity of the natural world through direct experience and building knowledge over multiple years.

Tahoe’s Connection for Families, Incline Village: $1,326 — Tahoe’s Connection for Families musical circle time program will be expanded. The program helps with early language and literacy skills along with listening and attention skills while enriching print awareness. Funds will be used to purchase musical instruments, manipulatives and to support a musical specialist who will implement a structured program focusing on music, literature and play.


Garfield County

Family Visitor Program of Garfield County, Inc., Glenwood Springs: $2,000 — Funds will be used to promote pre-literacy skills in young children through the “Read to Me” program by purchasing program materials along with 100 books per month for four months. These will be given to children during a home visit that includes instruction in why and how parents should read to their babies. These visits also provide an opportunity to identify adults who need improvement in their literacy skills and refer them to a local adult literacy program.

Raising A Reader Aspen to Parachute, Glenwood Springs: $1,500 — A pilot program will provide a collection of children’s books and literacy materials in a Garfield County laundromat, creating a “Libromat.” Funds will be used to purchase books (including replacement books), materials promoting the importance of reading, a bookshelf and support staff time. Support staff will provide a monthly story time and tend to the “Libromat” on a regular basis. Parents with young children will experience the joy of reading together while waiting for their laundry. They will be encouraged to take gently used books home.

Grand County

Friends of the Grand County Library, Inc., Granby: $3,000 — Funds will purchase between 8 and 15 rechargeable VOX Books (Books that Talk) for each of five libraries in the Grand County Library District. By modeling how read-along books can be utilized this program will expand opportunities for children to listen to and read books when adults are not available to read aloud. This program will serve a wide range of children including English Language Learners and those with learning disabilities.

Middle Park High School, Granby: $3,000 — Rev Robotics and AndyMark parts will help extend robotic capabilities and support participation in competitions against schools with far more resources. Two teams are supported with these funds and the program could be extended to more students next year. Students will work over the summer programming and building robots.

West Grand Elementary & Middle School, Kremmling: $500 — Books in Spanish and English along with Spanish/English dictionaries for pre-school will be given away at Family Literacy Night, which encourages families to read with their children. Teachers and community members read aloud, make a simple snack by reading a recipe and put on a readers’ theater.

Moffat County

Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Colorado, Craig: $3,000 — Books, math flash cards, fluency tools, writing supplies and staff time will provide meaningful materials and programming that make the library current and the Summer Brain Gain curriculum come alive. 50% of Moffat and Routt County youth participate in BGCNWC programs and the Brain Gain program will help decrease achievement gaps across this population.

Sunset Elementary School, Craig: $1,000 — Children will work in teams, read books and then participate in competitions as part of the “America’s Battle of the Books” program. Two sessions will be funded and funds will purchase books and knowledge of the books they’ve read will be tested. Originally envisioned as a program more accessible to gifted and talented students, last year this program attracted students from intervention groups as well.

Pitkin County

Aspen Art Museum, Aspen: $3,000 — Funds will support Mobile Story Art, a free program including storytelling and art making in the homes of childcare providers who serve migrant populations. Aspen Art Museum educators, in partnership with Valley Settlement, will visit low income, in-home childcare providers with programming, training, and physical materials. In 108 classes held over 9 months, literacy will be supported with the help of a bilingual, bicultural educator.

Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Aspen: $3,000 — At least five Family Science Nights at Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale and in RE-2 (Highland Elementary School and Graham Mesa Elementary School in Rifle) will be held. Adaptation and translation of materials that accommodate Latinx families will also occur. Funds will be used for craft supplies, props, demo materials, staff wages and transportation. Aspen Center for Environmental Studies offers multi-generational learning for students and their families in underserved communities.

Aspen Education Foundation, Aspen: $500 — The Read with Me program is a community reading program serving 60 students in the second, third and fourth grades in the Aspen School District who need targeted reading support. Funds will purchase books, snacks and supplies. Each student reads with a volunteer twice a week for 30 minutes, focusing on individual needs.

Basalt Regional Library, Basalt: $550 — The Baby Recess program will encourage the smallest patrons at Basalt Regional Library to be active and social while building motor, concentration and vocabulary skills in a special play space. Funds will be used to purchase soft gym features and once a week a “soft gym” will be set up with baby and toddler friendly ramps, tunnels, and plush alphabet letters in the Community Room.

Roaring Fork Conservancy, Basalt: $3,000 — This program will incorporate books, topographic maps and an interactive watershed model so students can have an interactive experience while learning about watersheds. This project highlights and strengthens connections between science, art, reading and technology. Funds will be used for program development and to help purchase an augmented sand table that will be used by 900 students each year.

Routt County

Horizons Specialized Services, Steamboat Springs: $2,985.48 — Funds will purchase tablets, manipulatives and other educational materials for use with children ages birth to three who have at least one developmental delay. These purchases are all outside the current budget and assist therapists working with 155 children needing intervention at a very early age. 85% of brain development happens in the first three years of life, making these interventions critical.

West Routt Library District/Hayden Public Library, Hayden: $1,034 — Children will chart progress, draw, create and share to win chances to enter “the tree house” and explore magical secrets. Between 50 and 75 children will be included in the program, which will encourage visits to the library throughout the summer. Books, crafting items and rewards for reading aloud and alone will be purchased. All participants receive one (or more) Magic Tree house books to keep.

Integrated Community, Steamboat Springs: $2,300 — Instruction and planning time, healthy food, transportation and supplies for the ACE (Achieving Collaborating Exploring) club will be funded through this grant. This is a summer after school program for at-risk English Language Learning students in grades 1-5. This three-week program will occur in August and help prepare students to begin school successfully in the fall.

Tread of Pioneers Historical Commission, Steamboat Springs: $1,500 — Tread of Pioneers is working to preserve the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s photo archive. Funds will be used to support an intern who sorts, cleans, sleeves and processes the photos. They are then made available for use throughout Routt County and Northwest Colorado. This is a high priority for the Tread of Pioneers Museum and their work is appreciated by the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Weld County

Dos Rios Elementary School, Evans: $3,000 — These funds will add a Lego wall and art wall and will purchase consumables for both walls at the Makerspace at Dos Rios Elementary School. The walls will be designed out of golf tees with pegboards and STEAM stations. This project adds another dimension to the Makerspace and will be extremely beneficial for students with disabilities who can get up close to build and create.

Galeton Elementary School, Galeton: $3,000 — Student materials are needed to implement the final phase of Steven Covey’s Leader in Me program. Galeton Elementary is a rural K-5 school of 133 students with a 49% free and reduced lunch program. Trauma cases have more than doubled in the school and this will gives students confidence, communication abilities, goal setting skills and leadership development opportunities.

The Boys and Girls Club of Weld County Inc., Greeley: $2,000 — Purchase of books will replenish the clubhouse library and class sets of books for the Kidzlit program. Reading and writing competencies have been declining among members, and access to contemporary literature increases the frequency and use of clubhouse libraries. The Kidzlit class sets serve early elementary students and facilitate small group reading.

High Plains Library District Foundation, Greeley: $3,000 — Materials will be purchased for ten themed Traveling Literacy Kits including books, a related game or activity and craft supplies. Due to ongoing construction, the Glenn Jones MD Memorial Library will provide this new series, On the Road with Your Library. Ten Traveling Storytimes will be hosted throughout Johnstown and Milliken using the Traveling Literacy Kits. Once the program has been completed the materials will be absorbed into the long term programming collection.

RSVP Volunteers in Service, Greeley: $500 — The RSVP Volunteers in Service Program needs many books for its program to be successful. This program assists students in Kindergarten through 5th grade in improving their reading. These funds will provide books for 300 students with the objective of improving reading skills to grade level.

Knowledge Quest Academy, Milliken: $1,475 — MCP PLAID curriculum through Pearson will be used along with a range of books, games and hands-on manipulatives including (for example) bibliographies of influential people in history. 75 students will receive interventions for reading, writing and language acquisitions using this fresh and engaging material.

Colorado Foundation for Agriculture, Westminster: $3,000 — These funds will assist with publication of an accurate children’s book about an aspect of Colorado agriculture, promoting agricultural literacy in pre-K through 5th grade classrooms. Funds will be used to complete illustration of the book, to purchase 250 copies of the book once it’s complete and mail them to schools in advance of a visit by a farmer or rancher. The Colorado Foundation for Agriculture will partner with The Fence Post to write, illustrate and publish the book.


Summit County

GFWC Park City Athenaeum, Park City: $500 — The Book’n on Home project serves around 80 students at each of two schools. The GFWC Park City Athenaeum Club provides take-home books and a group reading experience for first graders. The program was initiated at one elementary school with a large Latino population and has now been extended to a second school.

Trailside Elementary School, Park City: $1,000 — The annual “Reach the Peak Reading Challenge” is a school-wide program designed to encourage recreational reading and develop lifelong reading habits. For three weeks, students log their daily reading. Individual students contribute to classroom and school-wide goals and meeting them rewards the whole school. Funds will be used solely for books for participants.

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