A message from the CCCS School Leader, Jan Harrison:
Last year was an exciting and eventful year for Compass Collaborative School, and I have no doubt that 2018 will be just as interesting, action-packed, and full of great learning! Looking back at 2017, the year started off strong with a successful crowd-funding campaign, several planning grants from the Colorado League of Charter Schools, and a $26,900 grant from the Daniels Fund. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Daniels Fund, this private philanthropic foundation in Denver that provides grants to nonprofit organizations in a few funding areas, including innovative education. With this money, our team benefitted from powerful professional development, including sending teachers and administrators to educational conferences at High Tech High, an innovative charter school in San Diego that was one of the first schools to use a project-based learning approach. High Tech High has been around since 2000 and is an inspiration for our Compass design. We also went to the Big Picture Learning annual conference to learn from our partners in making work-based learning opportunities a part of every student’s education.
This grant kicked off a busy year of preparing for our planned opening in 2018, but
things really shifted into high gear in November. That’s when Poudre School District
(PSD) authorized Compass Community Collaborative School as a charter school in Fort Collins. While we will not be a “district school”, this means we will be able to partner with them and contract for special services as needed.
Another game-changer in November was that we received a one-million- dollar gift from a generous donor who believes strongly in our mission and vision for students, families, and the City of Fort Collins. This gift will allow us to remodel a building and afford rent along the MAX bus line along the Mason Corridor in Fort Collins. This is a high-cost area for rents, but having access to the Max Line is important for our curriculum since it will allow us to easily travel to Colorado State University and our many partnering businesses that are located in Old Town and along College Avenue.
The gift will also help us to hire additional staff during our first two years when our student population is still small. For example, we were able to move up the hiring of an additional math teacher and a half-time Spanish teacher. Having this level of financial backing also makes Compass a more solid prospect for obtaining other grants and gifts.
Speaking of other grants, the other big win in November was that we also earned a
$230,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), which is the state agency that’s responsible for education, including support for Colorado charter schools. The Colorado Charter School Program (CCSP) grant, that will allow us to outfit the interior of the school with furniture, computers and curriculum resources, was highly competitive; the fact that we won it this year puts us in a good position to receive future CCSP grants for the same amounts over the next two years.
The year ended on a strong note with my acceptance of an official job offer to be
Compass’ School Leader, and the inaugural meeting of the Compass Parent Advisory Council. Thanks to the efforts of Jenny Findlay and Jessica Lillard, we had over 20 talented, enthusiastic, and committed parents show up to get involved! I have had the opportunity to meet with some of the families individually since then, and I look forward to getting the chance to sit down with all registered families over the course of the next year. I am continually impressed by the enthusiasm and expertise that the Compass parents and students are bringing to the table. With the commitment of so many families, and with the expert teachers, community partners, and financial resources we have put in place over the last year, our prospects for 2018 are very strong indeed!