GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.
An organization that aims to improve the lives of children took a financial hit this year. On Monday the Mesa County Board of Human Services approved a contract for $75,000 to help them in their mission.
The Riverside Educational Center has provided tutoring services to youth for seven years, and has grown each semester.
Mary Gonzales, co-executive director of the Riverside Educational Center, read this quote to the Mesa County Board of Human Services, "The human spirit is given half a chance, they can defy enormous odds. They can overcome hopelessness, failures if they are given encouragement and opportunity."
The words in this quote motivate the staff and volunteers at the Riverside Educational Center.
"We've all heard of students falling through the cracks," Gonzales said.
Alan Anderson, secondary manager at the Riverside Educational Center, said, "It is such a rewarding experience. Not only do you get the satisfaction of helping, but the kids are successful."
The tutoring services give K-12 students a safe haven.
"We're trying to break the generational poverty and we're trying to get these kids to realize that education will be the great equalizer for them," Gonzales said to the Mesa County Board of Human Services.
"About 91 percent of our student population participate in the free and reduced lunch. About 90 percent of our population are minority students," Gonzales said.
Joy Hudak, co-executive director of the Riverside Educational Center, said, "Three days of tutoring plus extracurriculars, plus small group, plus pregnancy prevention classes plus mentor matches."
Gonzales also said, "It's really expensive to the community when you have a student that drops out or if you have a student that is in the juvenile system."
Since their inception seven years ago the organization has grown tremendously, but this year they took a hit with funding.
"We just had this perfect storm of fundraising loss," Hudak said.
"It put us in a position where we were going to have to cut programing," said Gonzales.
"A lot more kids, a lot more services a lot more fundraising requirements," Hudak said.
The contract approved by the county will prevent them from having to make any cuts
"It's those 127 students. It's being able to be with them and serve them," said Gonzales.
Now volunteers can continue to inspire students as much as they themselves are inspired each and everyday.
Program officials say they rely heavily on community support. Becoming a volunteer tutor requires just an hour each week.
To learn more about becoming a volunteer tutor, click here