Local support for mobile preschool in Rifle, Silt and New Castle leads to expansion | PostIndependent.com

Local support for mobile preschool in Rifle, Silt and New Castle leads to expansion

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Gus the Bus will get a little brother or sister this fall, thanks to the community support for the initial mobile preschool classroom.

The Rifle Community Foundation and Aspen Community Foundation recently met a matching challenge grant from the Brenden Mann Foundation to cover annual operating expenses for Gus, according to the Rifle Community Foundation, which helped raise the local funds.

A total of $48,200 was raised: $22,000 from the Brenden Mann Foundation and $26,200 from the community. Community contributors included: Columbine Ford of Rifle and the Clough Family Foundation, $10,000 each; Bayou Well Services, $2,000; Western Colorado Community Foundation and Keith and Sarah Lambert, $1,000 each; Alpine Banks of Rifle and New Castle, B&Y Drilling and John Burwell, $500 each and Preceptor Beta Kappa, $200.

“We care about these kids and believe in the impact we can make in their lives with a program like Gus the Bus,” said Jimmy Breslin of Columbine Ford of Rifle.

Johnny Brenden, president of the Brenden Mann Foundation, said they were delighted at the response to the grant.

“This shows us that Rifle area families and businesses care deeply about young children and helping them receive the very best early education possible,” he said. “The support we’ve seen for Gus the Bus proves to all of us how important this project is to the community.”

Katie Potter Mackley, Rifle Community Foundation president, called the effort “an overwhelming success.”

“We not only were able to raise the $22,000 for operating expenses for Gus the Bus, we were able to exceed the matching grant challenge and can apply the $4,200 toward next [school] year,” when the second bus will start service, she noted. “We are proud and grateful for the way our community has pulled together to support this important service to our children.”

Gus the Bus was launched last September. A partnership project between Aspen Community Foundation and Garfield School District Re-2, Gus delivers free, quality preschool education to 3-, 4- and 5-year-old children who would not otherwise receive these services and are at risk for starting school unprepared.

“Gus the Bus preschoolers showed tremendous growth, on par with comparable children participating in Garfield Re-2’s traditional preschool program,” said Aspen Community Foundation Program Coordinator Jayne Poss. “Quality preschool is one of the most effective ways to improve future school success for these kids.”

The second bus, Sunshine, will join Gus this fall, expanding the opportunity for 60 more children in Rifle, New Castle and Silt to have a quality preschool experience. The funds for the purchase and retrofitting of Sunshine into a preschool classroom were raised through the Aspen Community Foundation’s Cradle to Career Initiative, which provided funding for the start up of Gus the Bus.

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