The Southern Ute Community Action Programs (SUCAP), which oversees funding and implementation of the Southern Ute Head Start school program, announced their plans for a capital campaign in May.
The Southern Ute Head Start was relocated last year due to health and safety concerns surrounding the school's central building, which dates back the 1930s and contains asbestos. While some classes remain in the modular classrooms, others were relocated to the Southern Ute Cultural Center under a temporary use agreement, along with the school's administrative staff.
At a recent fundraising dinner at the tribal multi-purpose building, SUCAP Director Eileen Wasserbach discussed the staff and board's efforts to construct a new home, highlighting the Friends of Ignacio Head Start and the fundraising progress they have made so far.
Some of the key talking points surrounding the proposed school went beyond funding. Locating a suitable building site is still a primary concern, with the majority of staff favoring a location on or near Southern Ute Tribal Campus. The building needs to be about 25,000 square feet and will include a multipurpose room that can be used for activities, dinners, and graduations. The goal is to have a building site confirmed by Sept. 1.
SUCAP is also hoping to negotiate an extension to their lease with the tribe to continue using the Southern Ute Cultural Department for their classrooms and offices until a new facility can be opened, a process which realistically will take a number of years to complete.
The drive will be spearheaded by campaign coordinator Beth Lamberson Warren, who recently joined the Head Start fundraising team. Warren discussed "The House That We Built" campaign theme, the building blocks toward reaching their $8 million goal, and the potential for achieving their fundraising objective.
"How do we achieve buy-in from the community?" asked Warren. The school hopes to tell their story and emphasize the importance of Southern Ute Head Start within the community at large. The programs provide more than education. As a provider of early childcare, Head Start gives parents an opportunity to pursue careers, and Head Start also is a local employer of teachers and faculty.
SUCAP intends to reinforce their fundraising efforts though heightened marketing and outreach. The school is hoping to achieve strong regional communication through the Southern Ute Drum newspaper, social media and local radio programs such as KSUT.
More information is on the Friends of Ignacio Head Start Facebook page.