CCE-Funded Mini Grants: Coin Cataloguing at the Money Museum

Each year, students interested in pursuing a project to engage with and support their community can apply for mini-grants from the CCE. Financed by the William P. Dean Memorial Fund, any student-led initiative which works with a community nonprofit partner to address a social need is eligible. Here, we take a closer look at one of those projects.

Helen Donovan, a Classics major, first discovered her passion for ancient economies during her First Year Experience course at the very start of her time as a CC student, when she first experienced the collections in the Money Museum’s vaults as part of a class field trip. Since then, her interest in the subject has grown; she soon discovered much of the Greco-Roman portion of the collection had been cast away, hidden from its audience’s view.

“The Money Museum has as of now lacked the funding to employ a coin cataloguer that would allow the organization to bring their extensive collection of Greco-Roman materials from the vaults of their basement into the public eye,” explains Donovan in her application for the grant. “By employing members of the CC student body to complete cataloging by means of school-accessible grants, the Colorado Springs community would have the opportunity to view an entirely new collection of coins, the Money Museum would no longer have to store an incredible academic resource in their vaults, and CC students would be granted the ability to apply for a job that would engage them intellectually with artifacts outside of the classroom.”

With the help of her professor, Richard Buxton, Donovan has had special access to these archived collections, but knowing such important artifacts exist in a private space is not enough for her. Working alongside the American Numismatic Association, she hopes to use her passion for numismatics to prioritize her mission to catalogue coin hoards as a means of bringing the currently inaccessible resources she studies to the community. Plus, following a recent research trip to Greece during fourth block, she hopes to apply her newfound knowledge and experience with the culture to her project.

“Given the size of the Money Museum’s uncatalogued collection of Greco Roman coin hoards,” declares Donovan, “My proposed project of a single employee working with the Money Museum is intended as merely a first step in an aspirational larger program.”

While the project was original scheduled to take place January through May 2019, the time frame was altered for her to start research for her project during the coming seventh block through the summer. Look out for new additions making their way into the Money Museum soon!

Introducing our new Assistant Director!

It is our joy to share with you that Anthony Siracusa is now the CCE’s Assistant Director!

Anthony’s promotion aims to honor and value the role he has increasingly played in the office this year – which really has been assisting the direction of the office. The role of the “Engaged Learning Specialist” was envisioned to coordinate student programs with learning components, and Anthony has excelled at doing so – yet alongside this, he has taken a leadership role in directing the student-facing work of the office more broadly by increasingly guiding and advising other CCE staff.  He played an integral role in shaping the direction of the office throughout our strategic planning process and continues to shape our direction in thoughtful, deliberate ways.  And, he is a strong representative and advocate for the CCE throughout the institution.

Anthony brought with him and continues to cultivate a strong background in student learning in the classroom, experience in building curriculum for civic development programs alongside the classroom, and draws on his research interests to inform and center this work.

You can learn more about Anthony by visiting his staff bio page here.

We are ever grateful that Anthony has joined our staff and thankful for the ways in which he has built capacity for community engagement work at the college. Please join us in congratulating Anthony!

Jordan Radke
CCE Director

CCE-Funded Mini Grants: Girls Skate Club

Each year, students interested in pursuing a project to engage with and support their community can apply for mini-grants from the CCE. Financed by the William P. Dean Memorial Fund, any student-led initiative which works with a community nonprofit partner to address a social need is eligible. Here, we take a closer look at one of those projects.

CC members repping their Girls Skate Club spirit.

Jane Hatfield, a first year student, started Girls Skate Club upon her arrival at CC. Recognizing her own passions overlapping with a widely held desire from women across campus to learn the practice, she quickly sprung into action, inventing an environment where she could use her own experience to benefit others.

“As a predominantly male sport, the mission of Girl’s Skate Club is to encourage and create a safe space in which young girls can learn and practice skateboarding,” Jane explained in her application. “Through this, we hope to reject traditional stereotypes of femininity by showing young girls it’s okay to be confident, outspoken, and passionately dedicated to something as simple as a skateboard trick.”

Girls at the YMCA get creative with the club’s board painting event.

After seeing the success of the club on-campus, Jane decided to expand her sphere of influence and use her privilege as a CC student to help out children in the community. Connecting with the YMCA after school program, the Girls Skate Club now also aims to help out younger girls who have the same interest. Hosting events for the members such as spray-painting skateboards and writing cards to their role models, the positive impact which this club has had on the community is already beginning to show.

Given that the YMCA relies solely on donations, Jane plans to use her funding to take some of the financial burden off by supplying boards, helmets and knee-pads for the program. There are now 50 members of CC Girls Skate Club and around 20 girls participating in the YMCA after school program.

One member shows off her new skills in the local skate park.

“Skateboarding as an exercise, meditation, sport, and art form has given me so much,” shared Hatfield. “All of the members of Girl’s Skate hope to share our stoke for skateboarding with younger girls so that they can have the same opportunity to access such an amazing hobby.”

Interested in getting involved? Girls Skate Club meets up every Tuesday evening to skate and give skateboard lessons twice a block on Wednesdays or Thursdays from 4-6.


Written by Susie Dummit

A Closer Look at Concrete Couch

While Colorado Springs has many different initiatives to bring together the community and help  create positive change, one of the most diverse and well-known of those is Concrete Couch. Aiming to help different groups come together and work as a team on a project, their mission statement is “to work with kids and community groups to create public art, to build community, and to create environments and experiences that humanize our world.” With tons of different projects completed across the community by diverse volunteers, they seem to do just that. Here, we speak with Steve Wood, Founder and Director of the Organization, as well as Colorado College alum.

First of all, how did you end up getting involved with Concrete Couch?

I started it with other creative, teacher-y people in 2004. We actually were doing community building work together since around 1989, and it was an outgrowth of that work.

What sort of volunteers do you normally get?

EVERYBODY! We mix veterans with senior citizens, with college students, with developmentally different people, with little ones.

Who in the community do you think is impacted by this work and how?

Everyone else included in the last list. Plus at-risk teens, families at risk of homelessness, victims of domestic violence, people with cancer…We work with a lot of people and populations.

Why is it important?

There is a real lack of connectivity in our world. We are more divided now than ever, in my 56 years. We also are facing great environmental and social challenges, and working together, sharing resources, and having fun doing it seems like a great strategy to form a framework for one’s life.

What’s the main message you hope to send to people who take interest in the organization?

For all the reasons mentioned in my previous answer. Plus, we want you involved! Everyone has a lot to offer.

In what ways can people support Concrete Couch if they’d like to get involved?

Sign up for the e-newsletter so they know what’s going on. Visit us on the Second Saturday Sustainability Skillshare (a program started by CC class of 2014 Alex Drew), and see what we
do and meet some of the folks we get to know!

Can you share more details about the Artist-in-Residency Program?

Its a flexible program, for 1-4 weeks, usually with a target project developed mutually by the artist/community builder and the Couch. It’s usually unpaid, but we provide a room and other support. Although, experienced community builders are paid, so it’s a matter of experience.

Do you have any new projects coming up that we should know about?

Our House for the Couch initiative is full of potential. There is not an interest on the planet that could not be put into some concrete form of construction or exploration related to this effort. Sociology, permaculture, science and engineering, teaching, construction trades, art, music, writing, etc. See the website homepage for more info on this.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Come visit sometime! Everyone is always welcome.

You can head to the organization’s website, for more info on upcoming events and to learn more about their impact in the community.

Written by Susie Dummit.

Colorado Springs Plan to Ease Homelessness

As of early October this year, the city of Colorado Springs pitched an eight-point plan to help ease the extreme homelessness issue which we are currently facing. Within this plan, the goal would be to add 370 “low-barrier” shelter beds, change the policy of sobriety within shelters to one which is behavior-based, implement a “homelessness outreach court”, facilitate a non-profit led program to hire the homeless, hire three more Neighborhood Services officers to clean up illegal homeless camps, seek donations for a risk mitigation fund to help house homeless veterans, create HelpCOS Ambassador Teams to do homeless outreach and develop a comprehensive plan to create more affordable housing.

“I’m looking for things we can do within the law to improve not only the situation for the homeless,” announces Mayor John Suthers “But the community at large” (Colorado Springs pitches plan to ease homelessness, Colorado Springs Gazette, 10/9).

The entire project is expected to cost approximately $2 million in total and has an anticipated completion date of December 31st, 2019. HelpCOS is attempting to support fundraising for the project by taking donations through their website to go towards shelter beds.

Despite these efforts, homelessness has been a long standing issue in the Springs, and solutions to the problem may not be that simple. Anthony Siracusa, the Engaged Learning Specialist at the CCE, spoke out about the many different factors contributing to this crisis.

“This is a multifaceted and complicated issue, one which requires a distinction between houselessness and homelessness” states Siracusa. “While many are addicts, veterans and others who don’t have proper access to mental health resources, there are also the cases of LGBTQ+ youth thrown out of their homes and victims of domestic violence.”

Colorado Springs is expected to be short 26,000 units by 2019. Averaging 500 new affordable housing units a year, even with the city’s new plan for action, a couple hundred beds can’t quite fix the underlying issues which affect the growing homeless population. Although homelessness is often addressed as one singular concern, it is constructed upon many different issues fabricated into the culture of our city. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence rates are actually rising, and are just one of the causes, along with a lack of resources for veterans, addicts and the mentally ill and LGBT+ minors who no longer have a place to stay. While local organizations like Concrete Couch and Greccio Housing are targeting some of these specific issues, there’s still a long way to go in eliminating the major causes of the housing crisis.

“You’ve never heard me say at any point we’re going to eliminate homelessness, because we’re not,” says Mayor Suthers. “But I think we owe it to our citizens, whether they’re homeless or they’re not, to do the best we can” (Colorado Springs pitches plan to ease homelessness, Colorado Springs Gazette, 10/9).

Written by Susie Dummit

Getting Involved With Week of Action

Building on last year’s Day of Service, the CCE organized a new, expanded, Week of Action, this fall. Starting with a Community Picnic for Family and Friends Weekend on September 29th, the week was jammed packed with events to help connect CC students to the community around them. The goal for the Week of Action was to provide multiple avenues for students to get involved in a way that was meaningful to them. Last year, the CCE focused on one large clean up of Monument Creek. “We then expanded our thinking to a Week of Action to be able to incorporate a variety of opportunities for students, staff and faculty to engage” states Niki Sosa, the CCE’s Community Partnership Coordinator and organizer of the Week of Action. “With a week, we are able to create a variety of diverse opportunities, while including the Creek Week Clean Up event.”

Students kick off the week by collecting donations for the Athletics Drive.

On Monday, October 1st, the CCE hosted an Engagement Fair, giving students the opportunity to meet with representatives from 17 different local non-profits and find out more about organizations in the area. This was followed with two more events that day, Habitat for Humanity Restore and Toward a Daily Anti-Racist Agenda Workshop. Habitat for Humanity Restore hosted an event for a group of volunteers to assist with projects for the organization. Hosted by CC’s own Butler Center, the Toward a Daily Anti-Racist Agenda Workshop focused on self-reflection and communication when discussing the repercussions of white supremacy in higher education. The staff showcased a handful of short films and had its participants engage in discussions about their own educational experiences, in terms of bias, identity formation and white culture.

“The first step to making a difference is starting a dialogue,” said one attendee of Monday’s workshop. With the environment provided, students were able to express their opinions and share their experiences freely, while learning from those around them.

Following this, were even more events on Tuesday, October 2nd. The on-campus Refugee Alliance hosted its blockly meeting in the Sacred Grounds, discussing issues relating to refugee assistance. This event was followed by an event, hosted by CC library’s Special Collections staff, titled “Wikipedia Skews White and Male. Let’s Change that Together.”. Within this program, the systematic bias and under-representation of non-Western nor white male populations were addressed and projects to counter this issue were introduced. The group also had the chance to hear from Professor Rebecca Barnes about her work with the Women in STEM project. Events were also held off–campus, including a Concrete Couch Clean-up and a CONO Central Downtown Neighborhood Chat. The Concrete Couch Clean Up was an opportunity to help clean and create impactful art structures. Concrete Couch is an organization from the Pikes Peak region which works to bring people together through constructing art and other local projects. The Downtown Neighborhood Chat gave members of the community a chance to discuss neighborhood issues and solutions with city council members Jill Gaebler and Don Knight. Through initiatives like this, the government is more closely connected to its people and everyone’s voices can be heard.

The Refugee Alliance holds its blockly meeting in Shove Chapel’s Sacred Grounds.

On Wednesday, October 3rd, TIAA and Leadership Pikes Peak partnered to sponsor and host the LPP staff event, “Experience the Springs”. This gave CC staff the ability to meet with community leaders and explore parts of their own city in a new way. Later that day was the screening of the documentary, Mixed Match. Hosted by the WRC and the CCE, this film reflects on the difficulty which mixed race blood cancer patients face when looking for bone marrow donors and the significance of race in the medical industry. It tells an important yet often unknown story and forces viewers to confront issues that they wouldn’t normally hear about.

Quite fittingly, this screening was followed with a Blood Drive on Thursday, the 4th. Bonfil’s Blood Center and Be The Match came to CC to take blood donations and sign individuals up as potential bone marrow donors. Later that evening was the Fall Harvest Banquet, where the CC Student Farm showcased their locally grown produce through an extravagant meal. Being a ticketed event, the proceeds benefited the student farm’s mission of promoting sustainable local food production in our region.

Exploring the city during LPP’s “Experience the Springs”

The week wrapped up with a trio of volunteer opportunities over the weekend: Greccio Housing Beautification Projects on Friday, Creek Week Clean Up on Saturday, and Marian House Soup Kitchen, Sunday morning. With these action-oriented opportunities, students were given the chance to help local communities in different ways.

With 9 intra-campus partners, 11 community organizations and more than 250 CC community members involved, the Week of Action touched upon all bases in the community and was successful in connecting our campus to its surrounding world.

“Big change starts here on the community level,” says Sosa. “It’s in knowing your community and taking action to make the changes you want to see.”

Written by Susie Dummit

2018 El Pomar Scholarship Recipients

Each year, two incoming CC students from Colorado are awarded the distinguished El Pomar Scholarship, which helps them experience an exceptional liberal arts education, gain valuable hands-on exposure to the El Pomar Foundation’s work in the nonprofit sector, and encourages them to pursue a career in public policy or nonprofit work by covering the annual cost of tuition and fees, standard dorm room, and meal plan at Colorado College. In order to be considered for the scholarship, candidates must be a high school senior, a Colorado resident, eligible for need-based financial aid and have demonstrated leadership in, and passion for, community service and public policy. For 2017-18, the annual value of this scholarship was over $68,000.

In April, all finalists met and interviewed with Carly Stafford and Will Schiffelbein from the Office of Admission, and Richard Bishop from the Collaborative for Community Engagement. We’re pleased to announce that this year’s recipients of the El Pomar Scholarship are Deksyos Damtew and Abby Mercier!

Deksyos Damtew

Deksyos Damtew moved from Ethiopia to the United States with his family at the age of 3.  With the support of his family, he has overcome numerous obstacles, including cultural, linguistic and economic barriers, to become a respected leader in many different areas in high school. A successful International Baccalaureate student at Lakewood High School, Damtew has been active in soccer and cross-country, the president of both the Debate Club and DECA, an organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs, and a member of the local KIVA Club, which distributed microloans to individuals in countries across the world to improve their livelihood and enhance business prospects. Damtew has also been an active member, and is currently serving as vice president, of the Reach for the Sky Foundation, an organization that provides dental supplies such as toothbrushes to underprivileged students within the Denver area. Finally, though certainly not least among his accomplishments, Damtew has been an intern for the Colorado Court of Appeals, learning about the legal system, honing his debate skills, and assisting with various needs of the court. Damtew currently plans to pursue a career in business, economics, or communications.  As stated by Will, “It’s rare to see a student who embodies both humility and confidence in equal measure. Deksyos is true to form in both respects. I’m excited to witness his positive attitude and intellectual prowess change our campus—and community– for the better.”

Abby Mercier

Abby Mercier comes to Colorado College from a family with a strong military connection.  Her father went to the Air Force Academy, and impressed upon her the importance of service before self.  Mercier’s success at having an impact on the community stems from her ability to relate to others – to give her time and attention to help reach others at a personal level, and then provide the help they need.  At Fairview High School in Boulder, much of Mercier’s community work and passion has centered on tutoring, especially Spanish-speaking youth – something she hopes to continue at local schools.  When not tutoring, Mercier spent much of her time playing club and varsity soccer. Last summer, she worked at Spyder Active Sports, where she provided administrative and customer service support. This fall, she plans to begin her focus on a medically-focused education so she can begin a career supporting military veteran health. Carly reflected that “Abby’s passion to not only pursue a career in medicine but to use this knowledge to serve underserved and underrepresented populations is nothing short of admirable. She is talented inside and outside the classroom — she’s a whiz in her science classes but also massively talented on the soccer field. Abby is intelligent, articulate, driven, and cares deeply about giving back to the state of Colorado. We couldn’t be happier to name her a winner of the El Pomar Scholarship, and we are lucky to call her one of our own!”


Congratulations to both of these outstanding and deserving students, as well as all of the other remarkable students who applied and interviewed for this award.  We all look forward to see what they do while at Colorado College and beyond!

For more information on the El Pomar Scholarship, click here.

Meet Our New Paraprofessional!

The office of Collaborative for Community Engagement is excited to announce that Jasmine Wallack, a graduating CC senior, will be joining the CCE as the paraprof for the academic year of 2018-2019. Jasmine has been a very involved member of both CC and Colorado Springs community, participating in the Community Engaged Scholars Program, leading the Roots club, playing lacrosse, and lot of more. The CCE staff has recently talked to Jasmine about her CC experience, emergent in Colorado Springs community, and hopes and goals for the future.


Julia (CCE worker): Hi Jasmine! Thank you so much for cooperating with us and sharing this invaluable information about yourself and your views in community engagement. To begin, please tell us what you are majoring in at CC, and how (if at all) is your major related to the work you will be doing at the CCE?

Jasmine: Hi Julia!  I’m majoring in political science and minoring in nonviolence. I think my major is related to the work I’ll be doing at the CCE because understanding the structure of political systems is important for doing many kinds of community engagement—it helps you recognize potential avenues for effecting social change. Nonviolence is also related to the work I’ll be doing because I believe it’s all about actively trying to better the world on all different levels. I think both of these disciplines will inform the ways in which I try to engage with students and the community.

Julia: This makes so much sense, and I hope you will be able to use the knowledge you got from your major and minor to make as much of a difference in this world as possible. What events and programs outside of the classroom did you enjoy the most while being a CC student?

Jasmine: The program I’ve been most committed to outside of the classroom is being a member of the lacrosse team. It’s been a tremendous privilege to get to be a part of something so challenging and rewarding while being surrounded by some of the kindest and the most hard-working people I’ve ever met

Julia: Lacrosse sounds like a lot of fun, and I am happy you’ve enjoyed this experience so much.  Besides lacrosse, what do you like to do in your free out of school time?

Jasmine: In my free time I like to go on long runs on the Tiger Trail and explore new restaurants in Colorado Springs.

Julia: I can certainly relate to you on exploring new restaurant in the area! What motivated you to join the Community Engaged Scholars program? What lessons did you learn from being in this program during your CC experience?

Jasmine: I wanted to join the Community Engaged Scholars program because being part of the program would connect me to other students who are also actively involved with community engagement. What I didn’t anticipate, was how valuable I would find the reflection process included in the program. Having to evaluate each experience has provoked me to be more critical about my community engagement and led to lots of helpful brainstorming.

Julia: Yes, a lot of students first underestimate the value of the reflection process on their community work. What activities do you organize as one of the leaders of Roots? What events has this student organization led during this year, and what were some of the most memorable ones?

Jasmine: I organize a variety of activities for Roots including weekly writing/art workshops at Urban Peak, publishing the Roots zine, bi-blockly campus meetings, and community art events and projects. We did an event called the “Chalk Challenge” earlier this year at Acacia Park that brought together students, members of the homeless community, and other community members for breakfast, chalk art, and conversations. It was really fun to have so many very different people interacting and working together. Next week we have an event coming up that is the culmination of many initiatives called “Faces of Colorado Springs”. It’s modeled after the Humans of New York Facebook page and will also feature the zine we’ve created, our new logo, and will have an interactive component!

Julia: I have heard about the “Faces of Colorado Springs” event. I hope everything goes as well as possible there! Tell me please, why did you decide to work as a civic leadership paraprofessional at the CCE for the next year? What do you hope to achieve in this job?

Jasmine: I wanted to apply for the civic leadership paraprofessional position because I am interested in nonprofit/social justice work and I think this position will teach me a lot about these areas. I have also built a lot of relationships with people and organizations in Colorado Springs that I want to continue to develop. I hope that in this position I will gain a lot of professional development skills and continue to do community engagement at a grassroots level as well.

Julia: How would you promote community-engaged student-led initiatives at CC during the next year?

Jasmine: I  think community engagement should be thought of as a central part of one’s education—as much as coursework. For this reason, I think student-led initiatives are an amazing way for students to learn while simultaneously applying their own expert knowledge to build community.

Julia: How do you think the block plan affects students’ ability/desire to be engaged in the community?

Jasmine: I think the block plan can make it difficult for students to plan ahead or commit to long terms engagement. However, I also think the relative constancy of the block plan’s day-to-day schedule has some advantages for participating in community engagement.

Julia: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Jasmine: I hope to be working in the nonprofit world—perhaps still in Colorado Springs—in some capacity and continuing to be active on the issues I care about most!

Julia: These are really good goals. What advice would you give to students who are trying to be active on and off campus in terms of volunteering and other forms of community service?

Jasmine: I think the best way to get involved is to find something you care about and really commit to it in terms of time and energy. I say this because most students have pretty demanding schedules and it’s easy to see volunteering as a last priority. Once I became involved with Roots, I decided I wanted to make it a consistent priority and have found my involvement to be really rewarding.

Julia: Thank you so much for such thorough responses! I am very excited to see your passion and care for the community, and I hope you have a great summer and a year at the CCE! We are very excited to have you!

Spanish 201 Course Goes to Baca

Visiting Spanish professor at Colorado College, Marty Slayden, took her class in block seven to the Baca campus for a couple of days. For those who are not aware, the Baca Grande is Colorado College’s campus located at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the San Luis Valley, created as a space for reflection in order to enhance learning. Numerous field trips as well as block breaks have been conducted at the Baca, making students’ experience in college much more exciting and interesting.

Despite a terrible wind storm, Professor Slayden led her Spanish 201 class on a successful and fun-filled trip. Much of the trip consisted of her students spending a day with sixth-graders from the school located in Center, CO, an agricultural town with the majority of Spanish speakers. CC students engaged in various activities such as presenting their two plays, entertaining students with basketball, guitar playing, Latin dancing, and much more. Then everyone enjoyed lunch at the Desert Sage. Professor Slayden remarked that there were a lot of factors that contributed to the success of the trip, including support from her assistant Ana Gaby Pajera Alfaro, the Spanish house CPC and Latin dance teacher, CC’s Collaborative for Community Engagement and Office of Field Studies, and staff from Center School.

It is clear that everyone involved enjoyed the trip a lot!

Davis Foundation Annual Report Highlights CC Projects for Peace Winners!

Last summer, Colorado College students, Lucy Marshall and Eva McKinsley, travelled to a region of Central Peru that has been plagued by insurgent violence and instability to promote specialty coffee production and invest the proceeds in local education.

First, Lucy and Eva experimented with alternate methods of coffee production at a coffee farm in Ancahuachanan. Then, they turned their attention to education bringing the Internet to the local school, donating laptops and a projector to two area schools, supplying educational computer programs, games, sports equipment, school supplies, and so much more. Finally, on the farm, Lucy and Eva cleared and roofed a disused area, cleaned and repaired old washing wells for coffee, and installed new equipment. They eventually reached an essential agreement with the farm’s owner to donate a portion of the increased profits from the specialized coffee to continue supporting the schools.

Collaborative for Community Engagement and the whole Colorado College would like to congratulate Lucy and Eva for making such a difference in a disadvantaged community in Peru by promoting education, empowering members of the coffee industry, and promoting community growth and conflict resolution. We are very proud to have students who care about the larger world and put so much energy into creating projects that benefit people around the world! To see the full Davis Foundation annual report, please follow this link