Bringing higher education to Grand County, first steps | SkyHiNews.com

Bringing higher education to Grand County, first steps

With a void in higher education in Grand County, this year Megan Ledin and the Grand Foundation created an executive board to help bring higher education to the county and hired an executive director, Scott Springston. Funding for the program comes from donations and grants for higher education and the Grand Foundation manages the funds. On Jan. 20 Springston invited leaders in the county to attend a meeting where he gave an overview of the Higher Education program and asked attendees what the community needs.

"Partnerships are key to Grand County Higher Education (GCHE)," he said.

This is why he organized the meeting with the leaders in the community including Scott Ledin from the Fraser Valley Recreation District, Sam Bruegger from the Grand Lake Area Chamber, town managers and county commissioners.

Springston asked the group:

"How can we enrich a dynamic, replicable and lasting adult education and workforce training in Grand County so our economy and communities thrive?"

Each individual in the group was asked where they go to get their business education and certifications. Many answered from online classes, in-house training and many drive to Denver to get re-certifications. Springston told the group that their plan is not to build a campus but to offer higher education opportunities to County residents.

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They hope to utilize the new Headwaters Ecological and Community Center in Winter Park that will have high tech classrooms.

Elizabeth Garner, the State Demographer gave a presentation on Grand County economic data. After the presentation, the group mapped out existing county assets and identified gaps in existing county assets

Some stats from the State demographer included: Grand County has declined in population between the years 2010-15. There are 16,000 housing units of which 5,200 are occupied full time. There are 9,200 vacant seasonal.

"The data collected from the meeting will help guide us," Springston said.

Next step

Springston is currently synthesizing the data and working with Colorado State University to drill into the data to help answer questions that people have. He will also work with DOLA (Department of Local Affairs). Shortly he will be creating advisory groups based on data collected. So far he is seeing a need for culinary and hospitality training. Devil's Thumb Ranch has already started training programs for their staff.

Springston will begin with focus groups by industry then prioritize what is most important to accomplish. He will find partners to help deliver curriculum.

Springston's major goal is to create one course in each of the top three areas by end of 2017.

The Grand Foundation's website will be updated soon with Higher Education information. http://www.grandfoundation.com. Springston can be reached at springstonsec@gmail.com.

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