Yampah High makes first cut for $10M grant
Yampah Mountain High School in Glenwood Springs has made it to the next level in its bid to become a “XQ Super School,” a national project co-led by Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, that would include a $10 million grant.
Yampah, an alternative high school serving students from Aspen to Parachute, was notified Friday that it is among 348 semi-finalists out of nearly 700 original applicants that will be moving on to the “Develop” phase.
“This is a great opportunity for us, and we’re all pretty excited to take this next step,” said Mike Lowe, a teacher at the school who along with Principal Leigh McGown and school advisory committee member Altai Chuluun are spearheading the local effort.
The Aspen Community Foundation’s Cradle to Career Initiative is also a sponsor of the project.
“I think Yampah is well-positioned to use this money wisely, because as an alternative school we have been in the personalized learning business from the beginning,” Lowe said of the 160-student school that operates under the interdistrict Mountain Board of Cooperative Education Services.
“We have tremendous leadership here that knows how to meet the needs of a very diverse population,” he said. “And we want to make sure every kid has that next opportunity” after high school.
The XQ Super School project was launched last fall, inviting schools, communities and educational organizations across the United States to “rethink the American high school.”
This summer, five schools will be awarded about $2 million annually over the next five years to implement their plans. The schools making it to the develop phase will be provided with a variety of tools to refine their ideas and develop school designs to carry out the plan. Those plans are due by May 23.
“There is a much more serious element to this phase, including everything from a site plan and architectural drawings to how we plan to integrate additional staff or training to support our kids in this endeavor,” Lowe said.
Chuluun said Yampah is unique in its educational approach aimed at motivating students through real-life experiences and hands-on learning opportunities.
“I think it’s feasible to develop our ideas and turn Yampah into an impactful super school that can serve as a model,” Chuluun said.
While the staff at Yampah works to develop that model, Chuluun is reaching out to the local business community to help support the effort. A Fundly crowd-funding effort continues to help fund the project.
“In order to win this $10 million, we need the whole community to come together to help us,” Chuluun said. “Now we’ll be competing with the best of the best around the country.”
According to a news release from the XQ Super School Project, those advancing to the third and final stage of the project come from 41 different states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
“XQ has proven to be more than a challenge to create innovative high schools,” according to the release. “It is a growing movement to reimagine what is possible for public education in America, and a hub for community voices, cutting edge ideas and expert resources to make real change possible.”