YouthZone column: Roaring Fork Leadership team surveys community

Photo of the Roaring Fork Leadership team, back row from left, Matt McGaugh, Max Mecklenburg, Robert Huber and Dean Kinkel; and, first row from left, Erika Gibson, Savary Kolle and Sandra Jaramaz.

YouthZone moved into its new Glenwood Springs building at Ninth and Blake in March 2019 and opened the door to various collaborators and nonprofits utilizing its basement over the past year. With the help of one of Roaring Fork Leadership’s teams, YouthZone is looking for a more permanent solution on how to share that lower-level space.

The team has taken on the challenge to find a partner that shares YouthZone’s values and provides a needed community asset. Using community feedback, they hope to generate feasible ideas to present to the nonprofit and its board of directors.

“We hope our efforts give YouthZone a head start in bringing an exceptional idea to life,” said Erika Gibson, one of the team members.

Matt McGaugh, another team member, said their leadership group wanted to help an agency that provides value to the community. In his position as director of Adult and Child Services in Pitkin County, he understands the services YouthZone provides in communities throughout Pitkin and Garfield counties.

“This is a big opportunity for all of us,” Gibson said. “Here is an established organization with an unused space that wants local communities to voice what they want and need.”

Gibson added the final results of this project can help YouthZone be self-sustaining. “If we are able to help them identify viable ideas and partnerships that fill a community need and generate enough revenue for YouthZone to keep doing its thing, it will be a win all around.”

The team has used the last couple of months to reach out to staff, the board, donors and other human service and nonprofit leaders to develop their survey to go to the broader community. In reaching out to stakeholders who are intimately familiar with YouthZone, they quickly understood the space needed to be in line with the organization’s mission of fostering positive youth development. Ideas should not be limited to involving adolescents.

Gibson said the challenge has been to structure a survey so that it is simple enough to engage community feedback while inspiring new ideas and, ideally, specific proposals.

Ideas that are being considered range from a senior center to a child care facility, coworking space, a music venue, or after-school programs. The survey is meant to inspire other options, and everyone from Aspen to Parachute is being asked to participate.

The survey can be quickly accessed through links on YouthZone’s website [], or through its Facebook page. Or, you can type in one of these urls to access the English and Spanish versions directly: or in Spanish

Anyone who takes the survey and shares feasible ideas will be included in a drawing to win one of three $100 gift cards. Outreach to schools and other agencies includes a request to share the survey with their employees.

After the survey wraps up March 21, a focus group will be selected to drill into the survey proposals to determine their feasibility. The final results will be presented to YouthZone and its board, who will take on the next steps of engagement.

Roaring Fork Leadership runs an annual nine-month leadership program to build effective community leaders through training, practice and hands-on application. By engaging in local issues, the participants not only work on personal and professional development, they also build community integration.

Lori Mueller is the executive director for YouthZone and has been with the organization since 2006.

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