Effort aims to turn Yampah Mountain High into a ‘super school’

Yampah Mountain High School, an alternative high school in Glenwood Springs serving students from Aspen to Parachute, is a finalist for a $10 million Super Schools grant.
Post Independent

Yampah Mountain High School in Glenwood Springs is being pitched for a huge national grant designating it as a model for what high school education should be in preparing 21st century students for life and career.

And the organizer of the effort is seeking help from local businesses to make the web-based campaign go viral in hopes of making the alternative high school the winner of one of five $10 million XQ Super Schools grants financed by Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs’ widow.

Altai Chuluun, founder of the new community organization GlenX, is spearheading the effort along with Yampah school leaders and the valleywide Cradle to Career initiative.

“What they are doing at Yampah is incredible, motivating students with real-life experiences through job shadowing and internships,” said Chuluun, who sits on the school’s advisory committee.

After viewing a promotional video for the XQ Super Schools grant initiative, he got to thinking that Yampah would be a perfect model for reforming high school education nationwide.

“Kids learn best when they can focus on what they are passionate about and what they are good at doing,” Chuluun said. “Education should be about helping students develop skills early and teaching them how to make a viable career out of it.”

Chuluun, along with Yampah teacher Mike Lowe, Principal Leah McGown, students and other supporters, are currently putting together an application for the first stage of the grant process that is due by Feb. 11.

A survey that is open to the public and current students, at, seeks input for the first phase of the application. It asks people their view of the biggest challenges facing 21st century education, and to list what they believe to be the three best ways young people can learn today.

Questions for students, including those from grade school up through college, ask about their education experience so far and what has been most helpful in preparing them for the future.

The next step in the application process involves developing a website to make the pitch for Yampah to be selected for one of the grants. To get there, Chuluun is seeking business sponsorships to help make the campaign go viral.

“Our goal is to have our whole community behind us to turn our local Yampah Mountain High School into an exemplary high school that communities and schools across the nation can learn from,” Chuluun said.

By the end of this week, he seeks to raise $100 “gold” sponsorships from 50 businesses. Sponsorship will include the company’s logo and link on the campaign website homepage. The ultimate pledge goal is $10,000.

A fundly fund-raising website [] has been established to take donations, and Chuluun expects the campaign website at to go live by Thursday.

“I think a lot of people agree that the current school system is lacking in a lot of ways in preparing students, and is based on some very archaic purposes,” Chuluun said.

“The whole idea was to use the same approach to educate as many people as possible to go into the workforce, and that doesn’t meet what kids need today,” he said. “Schools need to evolve and prepare students through individualized learning that teaches kids how to make the most of what they’re passionate about.”

That can even mean figuring out a way to start a viable business while still in high school and using the money to help pay for college, he said.

“I think we have a very good shot at one of these grants, but it’s going to depend on ingenuity and partnerships in the community,” Chuluun said.

Even if the grant effort is not successful, the website campaign will get more people thinking about how to redefine education in the local community and across the country, he said.

Other supporters of the effort include Colorado Mountain College, the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, and the Mountain Board of Cooperative Education Services, which oversees Yampah Mountain High.

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