Northwest Colorado

Council of Governments


September 2022

From the Director's Desk -

Under reported Good News: Child Poverty

The good news is tempered knowing a third of our children locally are living in poverty. What is good is that policy has been shown to impact the numbers. It may appear a departure from our usual NWCCOG newsletter focus on local government issues & policy, or economic development trends to focus this month on child poverty. Child poverty down the block and across each county is a nearly invisible issue of more importance than many better-known issues. The data is there. We should monitor it closely and act upon it. We rarely do. In this space, we have explored the challenge of houselessness and the housing crisis, the demographic trend of families having fewer children, the childcare industry dilemma (see our 2021 report here), as well as the dearth of workforce—each of which impact or are impacted by the health and welfare of our children. In turn this is also a story about housing policy if you choose to see it that way, and community.

A couple news articles jumped out at me recently. The WSJ reports on a Brookings Institution research with the headline It Now Costs $300,000 to raise a Child, or approximately $18,000/year making me think that if we want more children, we had better find a way to support families that choose to do so. NPR reported recently that the expanded child credit during COVID recovery briefly slashed child poverty with a benefit that reached more than 61 million children in December of 2021 (it is expiring). Also, on Sept 14th David Leonhardt reports in the NYT that Child Poverty in the U.S. has fallen by more than half since the early 1990’s. The long term success apparently is a result of something rather foreign to today’s political climate – a policy compromise that acknowledged both liberal focus on government aid and increased minimum wages, as well as conservative insistence that single mothers can indeed work. The gains have occurred since the-sky-is-falling prognostications about “the end of Welfare as we know it” with TANF. It got me wondering about the rates of child poverty locally, and yearning for leaders who are more practical than ideological. 

In our compartmentalized mindset, it’s lazy thinking to see child poverty as a matter for school districts instead of local governments, or the federal and state governments which provide funding for services such as the Free and Reduced Lunch Program. Recently local governments during COVID poured money into financial assistance for families, and many districts provided free meals—not just lunches to children--underscoring that when an issue becomes a policy focus, impactful actions are possible. Many counties provided aid blindly as to citizenship status.

Child poverty is also at core a housing and housing-affordability issue. We don’t weigh a fire truck or pavement replacement project over feeding children because we don’t choose to set up the questions that way.

Thinking of workers, we often neglect tending to the upcoming pool of workers. What nation measures success on the extreme wealth accumulation, rocket ship ambitions and tax-evading prowess of the most powerful rather than the well-being of the next generation? Answer: a nation concerned more with quarterly numbers than long term numbers.  One local data point that is accessible related to child poverty is eligibility for the Free and Reduced Lunch program. It isn’t our expertise to opine here on the accessibility of such programs. The Colorado Department of Education website has a link on a school Meal Eligibility page for the USDA bulletin on determining eligibility for school meals programs which is 134 pages long and an FAQ on the services that is 4 small print pages. A quick search using US reveals the following child poverty numbers (and second language statistics for reference) for our NWCCOG region’s school districts by county. 

Note that Counties with multiple districts may have skewed numbers if web search provided multiple numbers or only one number for multiple districts. Statewide the percentage of children on free and reduced school lunch programs lowered from 40% in 2020 to 37% in 2021 according to The point is that child poverty in our region hovers somewhere between a quarter and a third of our children. An accurate view of child poverty “in Pitkin” county would average with Garfield and Eagle Counties where most of the workforce lives.

With so many of us focused on the recent drop in the stock market, interest rates, unemployment numbers, inflation, gas prices, it has me reflecting on how we confuse weather with climate. These economic indicating numbers are merely measuring economic weather. Yet we make dramatic policy changes based on fluctuations in these numbers. Child poverty is more like climate. We would do better to focus on such long-term indicators of our success as a nation and address them.

There used to be a bumper sticker extolling school funding over bombs. Perhaps the new bumper sticker should extoll Children over tax stockholders and open space funding.  For local leaders, there are few more impactful actions than addressing the housing shortage where it most matters, in the “missing middle” and at the most affordable. There is a generation of children counting on that.

Jon Stavney

Executive Director - NWCCOG

Area Agency on Aging Hosts

Community Conversations

For Immediate Release:

SILVERTHORNE, Colo. –September, 2022 – We have a tremendous quality of life here and are lucky to call Colorado our home. Colorado consistently ranks as one of the healthiest states in the country, with a life expectancy in the top 10 nationally. This reality, when combined with our state’s shifting demographics, means our communities will grow proportionately older as we look towards the future. Vintage Area Agency on Aging is seeking input on community aging to complete a regional strategic plan on aging.


Vintage and our partners are bringing residents and stakeholders together to discuss how to better support active and healthy aging for all in our communities. Understanding the challenges and opportunities of the region’s aging population is critical for elected officials, local leaders, service providers, non-profits, faith communities, and neighborhoods alike, if we are to successfully create communities in which we can all age well.


Erin Fisher, Director of Vintage states, “We know there are unaddressed needs in our communities that hamper an individual’s ability to age in place. We also know there are populations in our communities that are under-represented. Are you a family caregiver? Are you LGBTQ+ and worried about your ability to age in your community? Are you primarily Spanish Speaking? We want to hear from you. Please join us and share your perspective. By uncovering those needs and gaps in services, we can better plan and harness the value of current and future generations of older Coloradans to create a state well adapted for aging and one where all individuals can thrive.”


Join us for both virtual and in-person Community Conversations during the month of September to share your thoughts on what works well for older adults and what service and resource gaps need to be addressed. Event details can be found on our website.


When people of different ages, backgrounds, abilities, and talents share their thoughts, we help build strong communities. Please join Vintage in strengthening our community – by participating in our Community Conversations all over the region this September.


Vintage services include transportation, dental and vision assistance, nutrition programs, caregiver support, legal assistance, evidence-based health programs, Medicare counseling, volunteerism, educational programs, and more. Vintage serves Eagle, Grand, Jackson, Pitkin, Routt and Summit counties in Northwest Colorado.


Learn more about Vintage and its services for older adults at

Loan Program Helps Reduce Wildfire Severity While Improving Profits for Wood Products Businesses

August 20, Press Release

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) delivered the first Wildfire Risk Mitigation Loan under a new partnership with the San Luis Valley Development Resources Group (SLVDRG) Business Loan Fund. Along with the help of the Northwest Loan Fund, Marshall Forestry Solutions received this specialized loan that will be used for equipment to help maintain Colorado’s forests.

Marshall Forestry Solutions, based in Steamboat Springs, Colo., was established in 2016. This company works on forest management and wildfire risk mitigation projects across Colorado.

“We work to create fire-resistant community landscapes while maximizing the utilization of forest products,” said Jacob Marshall, founder and owner of Marshall Forestry Solutions.

“Our expertise in financing and lending coupled with the CSFS’ work in forestry and with our wood products business community is helping reduce wildfire occurrence and severity across the state, resulting in more profitable and successful wildfire mitigation and wood products businesses,” said Marc Bellantoni, business loan fund administrator with the SLVDRG.

“The Wildfire Risk Mitigation Loan Fund provides financing to wildfire mitigation contractors and forest products businesses to invest in new equipment and working capital to address Colorado’s increasing wildfire challenge. It is administered in partnership with the SLVDRG and other lenders like the Northwest Loan Fund,” said Tim Reader, the wood products specialist with the CSFS.

The Wildfire Risk Mitigation Loan Fund Program, administered by the CSFS, is available year round to eligible businesses. To receive financing through this loan fund, a business must be engaged in the harvesting or manufacturing of wood products from wood biomass removed from forest management and wildfire mitigation activities on public or private lands. Existing and startup businesses that have difficulty qualifying or accessing capital are encouraged to apply.

“Financing for Marshall Forestry will help them acquire and operate equipment to more efficiently remove and utilize trees on public and private lands in Northwest Colorado,’ said Anita Cameron, director of the Northwest Loan Fund.

For information on the Wildfire Risk Mitigation Loan Fund, contact Tim Reader,, or Marc Bellantoni,

Affordable Connectivity Program Saves Internet costs for Eligible Households 

The Biden administration recently announced the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), giving eligible households up to $30 off their monthly internet bills, as well as a $100 discount on laptops, tablets, or desktop computers. According to Delia Sanchez, Energy Engagement Specialist at the Colorado Broadband Office (CBO), “ We estimate more than 600,000 Coloradans are eligible for the program and are not taking advantage of the ACP discount. Too many Coloradans are missing out on saving money!”

The CBO is urging schools, non-profit organizations, churches, government agencies, and community centers are urged to post flyers to spread the word to their constituents about how to apply to receive the benefits. For additional resources, flyers, or questions:

Colorado residents who wish to see if they qualify for these benefits:


Next Council Meeting - October 27, 2022

Full Council Meeting, EDD Board Meeting

Location: Zoom Conference Call, On-site location NWCCOG Offices 249 Warren Ave., Silverthorne

Time: Council 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM - EDD 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Primary Agenda Items: Review of draft 2023 budget; approve 2023 council meeting schedule; approve 3rd Quarter financials; approve August minutes