Downtown Colorado, Inc. is partnered with the Corporation for National and Community Service which is the federal agency that runs AmeriCorps VISTA among other services. The VISTA program specifically has AmeriCorps members go to either non-profit organizations or public entities to build organizational capacity in order to allow those organizations to execute poverty reducing measures.
DCI currently has 7 VISTA members across the state including Steamboat, Montrose, Durango, Manitou Springs, Trinidad, and Denver, working in those communities to reduce poverty through economic and community development.
Recently, the team had their third quarterly training to learn more from experts and speakers about grant writing, fundraising, BIDS, state tourism, and opportunities for small business loans through the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority.
Kim Grant of Colorado Preservation Inc. talked about the basics of grant writing and fundraising, explained common mistakes, and tips for success. One of the most important aspects to recognize is to have a diverse revenue stream and not to rely on one source, even if it’s lucrative.
Tara Tubb, the Energy Impact Assistance Fund Program Manager at State of Colorado, talked about how her program, “assists political subdivisions that are socially and/or economically impacted by the development, processing, or energy conversion of minerals and mineral fuels” which effects many of the smaller rural communities that our VISTA members are often placed in. Some of the funds and grants available through this program are the administrative grants (up to $25,000 and require a 50/50 match), tier I grants (up to $200,000 and require a 50/50 match, and finally tier II grants which are $200,001-$1,000,000 and require a 50/50 match.
Elizabeth O’Rear of the Colorado Tourism office (CTO) informed the VISTAs of the Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism (CRAFT) program where the tourism office will come to your community to conduct participatory studios or workshops that give entrepreneurship and professional support, conference sponsorships, or implementation funding. Two of our current VISTAs, Andrew Wallace of the City of Trinidad, and Carl Young under the Huerfano County Economic Development office, both are collaborating with the CTO to bring to light the rich heritage and tourism opportunities that Southern Colorado has to offer. Look into the “Highway of Legends” coming soon to Walsenburg and Trinidad!
The VISTAs also got some 101 information regarding Business Improvement Districts (BID) from Erin Lyng and Amanda Kannard of Progressive Urban Management Associates (PUMA) which could serve to benfiti our other VISTA host site communities of Manitou Springs and Montrose, the latter of which is looking to adopt some of the services geared toward those experiencing homelessness which the Colfax BID in Denver currently conducts.
VISTA members attend Historic Denver’s Colfax tour after the training to learn about Denver’s history, BIDs, and how policy shapes a streetscape.
Our next VISTA training will be during the fall at one of DCI’s events, hopefully in a location other than Denver so the VISTA team can experience a diversity of Colorado communities.