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Alpine Bank to spread the educational wealth

The main source of funding for the Roaring Fork Education Foundation has changed, and its future is uncertain.

Since 1997, Alpine Bank has turned over all the money from its Classroom Credits program, based on a percentage of proceeds from a dedicated debit card, to education foundations in its service area.

For every new card, the foundations have received $10, and each swipe of the card nets the foundations 10 cents, said Alpine Bank vice president of marketing John Cooper.



Roaring Fork School District Re-1, through the Roaring Fork Education Foundation, has received $120,000 since 1997.

The money goes directly to teachers for classroom and school projects, Cooper said.



The program is so successful the bank wants to share the proceeds with education programs outside the school district.

“Due to the success of the program we would like to expand to other education programs that aren’t necessarily under the purview of the Roaring Fork Education Foundation,” Cooper said.

Two programs, Junior Achievement and Computers For Kids, have been singled out for donations, Cooper said.

The program was first proposed by Roaring Fork officials after researching how schools raised funds for school programs. They found that some banks gave earmarked proceeds from dedicated credit cards for school funding.

“They went to all the banks,” Cooper said, but only Alpine agreed to go forward with a dedicated debit card.

Local artist Mary Noone was commissioned to paint a picture of a schoolhouse for the card’s cover.

Now about 25 percent of the bank’s current customers have the special debit cards, Cooper said.

When the card program was established, Alpine Bank entered into an agreement with the Roaring Fork Education Foundation that gave it 100 percent of the dedicated proceeds.

Now the bank has decided to change that agreement with all the education foundations it supports.

Education foundations in Garfield, Pitkin, Mesa, Summit, Eagle and Routt counties, similar to the Roaring Fork Education Foundation, have received $350,000 since the program’s inception, Cooper said.

“We need the flexibility that’s not currently available in the existing agreements, and we’re in the process of modifying them,” Cooper said.

Alpine has also offered the Roaring Fork Foundation $30,000 for 2002, he said.

In the future, the foundations must present a funding request to the bank rather than receive direct funding, Cooper said.

Foundation officers are now considering the options.

“Alpine Bank elected to substantially change the partnership,” said Pete Rohan, spokesman for the foundation. “The Roaring Fork Educational Foundation is currently considering all the options of how to respond to the new position of Alpine Bank.”

The foundation does not want to jeopardize the support it’s been able to give the school district and its teachers and students.

“We want to do what’s best for our kids, our teachers and our school district,” he said.


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