‘No Barriers’ helps CMC students make ends meet | PostIndependent.com

‘No Barriers’ helps CMC students make ends meet

Debbie Crawford
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Parachute’s Elaena Covington is studying full time toward becoming a registered nurse while also working full time as a patient advocate at Mountain Family Health Center in Glenwood Springs. But with two of her three teenagers also in college, plus childcare expenses for her 1-year-old son, she has plenty of barriers to overcome to complete her own college education.

In July, Covington needed a little extra help to make financial ends meet.

“I was in a bind, and I had just started school. It was really hard, and I was short on my daycare,” Covington said.

Fortunately, she was able to take advantage of a new emergency support program at Colorado Mountain College. The No Barriers Fund, created in the spring, offers assistance for unexpected needs – and can cover anything from groceries to utility bills to car repairs. Qualified recipients of the funds are local students pursuing a certificate or degree and taking at least six credit hours.

“It was crazy, so it really helped a lot,” said Covington, who hadn’t been in school in two decades but tackled a 13-credit-hour course load. “It was really easy to apply for. I was very excited about it. It wasn’t shameful. It was a good experience.”

Fund has strong support from college, community donors

Alison Limoges, who oversees the No Barriers Fund for the Colorado Mountain College Foundation, said a variety of donors, including college staff and faculty members, have identified with the fund, donating more than $105,000 to support it since March. Donations to the fund also honor Alexandra Yajko, the foundation’s recently retired, longtime chief executive officer.

“The No Barriers Fund has not only made a significant difference in the lives of dozens of Colorado Mountain College students already, but it continues to be well received by the CMC Foundation’s donors. It is for these reasons that the No Barriers Fund will continue to be a part of our annual giving strategy at the foundation for the foreseeable future,” said Matt Spencer, current CEO of the CMC Foundation, who joined the college in July.

Jim Coombs, 2009-10 president of Club Rotario, said deciding on making a donation was an “easy sell” that resonated with his group.

“The No Barriers Fund is doing what we strive to do as our core mission, which is to help realize the dream of local kids for higher education at Colorado Mountain College,” Coombs said.

Limoges said the fund is the first of its kind at the college, offering a quick-turnaround, helping hand to students who have a sudden financial emergency that might cause them to drop out of a degree program. Though the amount of funds provided to students is usually less than $500, there are times in life when even just a few hundred dollars can mean the difference between continuing in school or stopping out.

“After doing research on what the needs are for our students, given the current state of the economy, we decided to try to help in ways that annual scholarships can’t address,” Limoges said.

Students asked to ‘pay it forward’

Recipients are asked to give back to the fund at a future time, if possible, or give back to others through community service.

“I plan on giving most of it back to the college, for the next person who comes along, once I’m in a little bit better situation,” said Covington, who earned a 3.7 grade point average her first semester taking nursing prerequisite classes.

Colorado Mountain College students who want to learn more about the fund, and community members who might like to donate, can contact Limoges in Glenwood Springs at (970) 947-8380 or alimoges@coloradomtn.edu. Students also can contact a counselor or financial aid employee at any Colorado Mountain College location to fill out a No Barriers Fund application.

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