Rural schools in our region face unique challenges, from funding gaps, teacher recruitment and retention, to high levels of poverty that put students at a disadvantage on their journey to find employment and hold successful careers. Many schools lack adequate resources to help students learn about career planning or prepare them for college. Additionally, the cost of college can be prohibitive for rural families and first-generation students.


We manage the Chang Chavkin First-Generation Scholars Program for rural first-generation college students. Scholars are selected in their junior year and given support during the college application process and throughout college. Scholars are awarded up to $15K per year. 

Each year, we award at least one Neil Armstrong Scholarship to a student in the 5-district region pursuing college degrees in STEM fields.

We annually award $10,000 in Telluride Foundation Scholarships, providing a student from each of the 5 school districts with $2,000 toward higher education.

We administer several other scholarship programs, including the San Miguel Power Association college and technical school scholarships, the Latina/Sparky Scholarship, and the Elaine Fischer Scholarship.

Through funding and resource coordination, we support the Norwood and Nucla high school’s Apprenticeship Programs, which provide high school students a path to graduate with workforce experience, credit towards certifications, and/or college credit and connect them to well-paying jobs.

In partnership with EcoAction Partners and SMPA, we launched the Energy Workforce Development Program, providing training opportunities to fill gaps in the regional energy force, including job training in heat pumps, solar power, and energy efficiency ratings.


Chang Chavkin First Generation Scholarship program now serves 28 scholars from 9 regional school districts. $189K was awarded to 21 scholars this year alone. Seven high school scholars are receiving college counseling and are expected to enroll in 2024. Scholars have attended Colorado College, the University of Washington, Cornel University, Barnard College, and Colorado University, Boulder. Graduates have pursued careers in business, nursing, engineering, and finance and marketing. To date, the Neil Armstrong Scholarship has awarded $138,000 to 18 scholars. Scholars have attended University of Colorado Boulder, Western Washington University, University of Southern California, and Colorado School of Mines and gone on to pursue graduate degrees in engineering and medicine and become aerospace engineers.

The Telluride Foundation Scholarship program, provides $2,000, in each of the 5 regional school districts, to a student selected by the school administration.

Through Telluride Foundation donor-advised funds (DAFs), we awarded $99K in college scholarships to 12 regional students in 2023.

Supported 12 high school apprenticeships in Nucla and Norwood to date.


I am loving life at Arizona state University, thanks to the Neil Armstrong scholarship. I can’t imagine not getting to experience college here, as it is everything I hoped for and more.
-Canyon Ishikawa, 2023 Neil Armstrong Scholarship Recipient & ASU Class of 2027

[The Neil Armstrong Scholarship] was really the only reason I was able to attend CU Boulder and completely shifted the path of my education. I’m not sure where I would be, but I would not have as meaningful of a degree at nice school like CU as I do now.
-Tyler Kraft, 2019 Neil Armstrong Scholarship Recipient & University of Colorado graduate

I have been a nurse on the neuro unit at Banner Health Wyoming Medical Center for 6 months. To say that my job is easy would be a lie. Everyday I’m learning more and more about myself and the profession I chose. Nursing is the knd of job that keeps you on your toes and constantly learning and improving your practice. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to take care of those in need. I can’t wait to see what my future in nursing holds. I’m still forever thankful for your support through school and the continued support in my new career. My transition from high school graduate to registered nurse wouldn’t have been as easy without you.
-Emily Case, Chang Chavkin Scholar, graduate of Colorado Mesa University graduate

The college process has been extremely hectic yet rewarding. It made me realize that when I became a Chang-Chavkin Scholar, I became a part of a community. A community that was more than willing to help me navigate unexplored territory, and for that my family and I are extremely grateful. As corny as it sounds, no words can express our gratitude, but still I want to say thank you, and let you know that everything you do will never be underappreciated.

-Andrea Peralta Villa, Chang Chavkin Scholar, attends College of Wooster