Ability Connection Colorado, Inc.

When you donate to Ability Connection Colorado, your gift ensures we can continue to support thousands of Coloradans through inclusive education, pathways to employment, and family support programs, allowing individuals with disabilities and other life challenges to thrive.

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Creative Options for Early Childhood Education

Class

Education 

Beneficiaries

Disabled
Families
Infants/Babies (under age 5)
Poor/Economically Disadvantaged
Single Parents

Description

Creative Options for Early Education provided early childhood education to 420 children and their families last year. Many children have a disability (or are at-risk for developing one) and have health and/or behavioral issues. Creative Options is an evidence-based, comprehensive, inclusive early education program for children birth-5. Our program focus includes: academics, health, social emotional development, mental health, family engagement, developmental strategies and professional development---with the end goal of School Readiness.

We operate five centers in Greater Denver:
• There is an average annual waitlist of 60-100 children
• 97 percent of the families we serve are at or below the federal poverty level
• 95 percent of the children are considered minorities

Creative Options' children's development often lags behind age group norms; therefore, professional teams screen every child upon entry into our program and develop inclusive intervention strategies for any identified deficits. In addition to assessing each child initially during enrollment, further assessments continue throughout the school year.
- Teachers develop Individualized Learning Plans (IEP) for each child. Staff measure all aspects of children's progress three times per year and regularly analyze and act upon teaching and learning assessments and outcomes.
- Families are involved and engaged in their children's School Readiness and are educated to access resources to become successful in their pursuit of education and/or employment.
- As a corollary, we provide pre/post-natal services (e.g., education, health service navigation, newborn wellness checks, etc.) for underserved pregnant moms.

Creative Options overarching goal is to maintain, sustain and enhance quality improvement, resulting in all children's optimal School Readiness.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

PROGRESS AND RESULTS

Goal 1: To provide academic strategies and skills for children's successful transition into traditional track Kindergarten.
Objective 1a-A minimum of 85% of enrolled children ages 3-5 will demonstrate significant gains in proficiencies in literacy, language, cognitive development, math, social emotional, language/literacy and fine/gross motor development as measured by ELOF aligned Teaching Strategies GOLD outcome indicators. Our 3-5-year-old children made significant gains in each domain as measured by ELOF-aligned indicators on our children's assessment, the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP). This past school year has been our first year to use the DRDP to monitor children's progress. Our children's attendance since March 2020 has been highly impacted due to the pandemic. We feel our children's progress has been impacted by irregular attendance and expect the developmental progression to be different during the 2021-2022 year.

Here are some highlights of our analysis of our children's growth from fall to spring.
- Approaches to Learning Domain: The percentage of 3-5-year-olds scoring at Building Middle or higher shifted from 45% in the fall to 84% in the spring
.- Social Emotional Development Domain: The percentage of 3-5-year-olds scoring at Building Middle or higher shifted from 44% in the fall to 87% in the spring.
- Language & Literacy Domain: The percentage of 3-5-year-olds scoring at the Building Middle or higher shifted from 35% in the fall to 86% in the spring.
- Cognition Domain: The percentage of 3-5-year-olds scoring at the Building Middle or higher shifted from 29% in the fall to 83% in the spring.
- Math Sub-Domain of the Cognitive Domain: The percentage of 3-5 year olds scoring at the Building Middle or higher shifted from 35% in the fall to 89%% in the spring.
- Perceptual, Motor & Physical Development Domain: The percentage of 3-5-year-olds scoring at the Building Middle or higher shifted from 62% in the fall to 87% in the spring.
Objective 1b-At least 50% of children participating in the Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) will be maintained with those supports and not need further special education consideration or involvement. As of 5/21/21, 80% of children in our MTSS were being maintained with those supports and do not need further special education consideration or involvement at this time. As of 5/25/21, 18 children were active in the MTSS process. In addition to the active children, seven children were referred from MTSS to evaluation for an IEP; 75% of these children were evaluated and qualified for special services. The 25% of children who were not evaluated moved out of district prior to their scheduled evaluation dates. Over the course of the school year, two children have graduated from MTSS and have been successful in the classroom without any MTSS supports.
Objective 1c-A minimum of 75% of K Bound children will be able to solve simple math addition and subtraction problems with small numbers (1-5) by using manipulatives and fingers to represent objects as measured by our in-house, proficiency tracking checklists. Per our spring DRDP data, 68% of our K-Bounders had achieved this objective. We were unable to rate 10 of our K-Bounders due to insufficient attendance. Erratic attendance has been one of our challenges during the pandemic.

Goal 2: To support enrolled children in achieving optimal social emotional skills, positive behaviors and overall
mental health
Objective 2a-Children will experience an increase in their social emotional TSG assessment scores, indicating gains in social emotional skills from beginning to end of school year. Our children have made strong gains in social emotional skills, as shown in a comparison of their fall to spring profile of scores in the two tables below. In the Fall of 2020, 58% our infants and toddlers were functioning at the Exploring Later stage or higher; in the Spring of 2021, 96% percent of them were doing so. In the Fall of 2020, 44% of our preschoolers were functioning at the Becoming Middle stage or higher; in the Spring of 2021, 87% of them were doing so.
Objective 2b-Teachers' scores indicated on validated assessments will improve from Fall to Spring, which indicate their individual fidelity to social emotional and classroom instructional best practices.
*Please see 4a and 4b.
Objective 2c-75% of children initially screened as monitor or refer on the ASQ-SE-2 for social emotional disturbances will acquire the necessary skills to no longer score above clinical cut offs by school year end. Of the 329 children who were assessed with the ASQ-SE2, 36 scored within the monitoring or referral ranges. Of the 36 children who were initially identified as needing social emotional support:
- 23 children are still receiving support (4 of these children have IEPs and receive support from special education staff, and
- 13 children no longer need support.

The past year and a half have been extremely challenging and stressful for our families and our children. Our
supports for these children this past year included:
- Implementation of the Social Emotional Pyramid in classrooms as foundational work and supplementation with trauma-informed practices.
- Our Tier 1 and 2 Family Coaches support most families and our Tier 3 Family Coaches supporting our families and children with the greatest mental health needs. Our Tier 3 Family Coaches have mental health backgrounds. Children with social emotional needs who have IEPs are supported by Special Education Teachers. Due to the pandemic and often needing to restrict the number of staff in classrooms, often this support has been provided remotely, by phone, zoom, provision of online and resources and packets of social emotional learning materials.
- We have begun some deeper work in trauma-informed best practices and created a new position, Social Emotional Program Manager, to lead this work. Because we needed to restrict the number of staff in classrooms, it has been a challenge for our mental health support persons to closely observe children in the classrooms. We have relied more on video conferences to discuss children's needs as well as our MTSS process.

Goal 3: To prepare families for raising successful children, who are lifelong learners.
Objective 3a- 200 families will participate in literacy activities and events, thus increasing their understanding of the importance of literature and their reading activities with children. Thirty children and their families have been supported in our remote learning program throughout the year which include weekly literacy activities among other types of activities. 105 families participated in family literacy activities during Dr. Seuss Day (Read Across America Day). All children and families were involved parent-child home activities during Inclusion Week which we organized in partnership with Special Olympics; all children were provided a read-aloud book and materials about inclusion.
Objective 3d- A minimum of 60 families will participate in parent-child math events, which emphasize how parents can support their children's math development. 105 families participated in our math events, by completing home math activities with their children.

Goal 4: Support and enhance the effectiveness of our teachers and all staff through professional development opportunities.
Objective 4a- By Spring, teachers will demonstrate fidelity or growth toward fidelity in the implementation of social emotional practices, as measured by TPOT or TPITOS, with fidelity being 85% or higher. In the Fall of 2020, we were able to observe most (21 of 32) teachers using TPOT and TPITOS before Covid restrictions needed to be enforced that prevented School Readiness Coaches from visiting in classrooms. The merged results for our Fall 2020 TPOT/TPITOS assessments showed the following:
- 57% of teachers met or exceeded fidelity (scores ≥ 85%)
- 26% of teachers were approaching fidelity (scores 70-84%)
- 17% of teachers scored as high need (scores <70%)
Most of the teachers who scored as high need were new teachers and have since completed the Social Emotional Pyramid Plus course of 45 hours. In the Spring of 2021, we had a narrow window of opportunity for School Readiness Coaches to observe in classrooms, due to Covid restrictions. So, we decided to observe in the Spring 2021 using the CLASS tools. Those results are reported in Objective 4b.
Objective 4b- By Spring, teachers will demonstrate growth in the implementation of best practice as measured by CLASS. Due to Covid safety restrictions, we were unable to observe our classes using the CLASS tools in the fall of 2020. We were able to observe in the spring of 2021. Here is a brief summary of our findings:
- One infant class was observed. The score for the Responsive Caregiving domain was 5.68.
- Eight toddler classes were observed. The mean score for the domain of Emotional & Behavioral Support was 6.15. The mean score for the domain of Engaged Support for Learning was 4.57.
- Fifteen preschool classes were observed. The mean scores for the three domains were: Emotional Support - 6.21, Classroom Organization - 5.80, and Instructional Support - 4.04. It is interesting to note that means for the emotional/behavioral domains for the toddler and preschool CLASS observations were over 6.0. This means that as a group our teachers were implementing the emotional support strategies very skillfully. Comparing the Fall TPOT/TPITOS degree of skillful implementation of social emotional strategies could be compared to the Spring CLASS Emotional Support domains shows that teachers became more skillful in implementing social emotional strategies and behavioral supports.
Objective 4c-During the program year, Creative Options will provide opportunities for 100+ hours of training and professional development to 100% of program staff.
Staff members who have been with us since July 6, 2020 have completed well over 100 hours of training and professional learning: July weeks of intensive training, professional development sessions on Fridays throughout the year, weekly collaborative planning which has strong job-embedded mentoring/training aspects, at least 6 sessions of Multi-tiered System of Support meetings which also has a strong job-embedded mentoring aspects, and at least 10 hours of site-based Professional Learning Community study. All teachers have been
engaged in Child-centered Coaching with their assigned School Readiness Coaches. Since 6/1/20, 4 teachers have taken college courses, 5 teachers completed CDAs, 7 teachers completed the EQIT training, 5 teachers completed the 45-hour Pyramid Plus course and 3 teachers are currently enrolled in the 45-hour Pyramid Plus course. All teachers have learning plans which each teacher pursues based on his/her personalized study plan.

Employment Works

Class

Employment 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Disabled
Mentally/Emotionally Disabled
Military/Veterans
Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)

Description

RAMP began in 2010 with Ability Connection Colorado and was initially formed based upon the federal STEM or High School High Tech programs, which began in the early 2000's. The RAMP model comes from years of governmental and national research findings that indicated the power of career-focused mentoring in improving the lives of inner city youth and those with disabilities. The collaboration and research came from The Office of Workforce Development, The Youth Development Council, The Office of Economical Development, The Office of Juvenile Justice, as well as, other programs that had funding to work with specific groups of youth, including at-risk youth and youth with disabilities and/or other challenges.

Annually, Denver's Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program recruits identified youth, ages 13-25, based on mild to moderate disability, foster care, and others who are at at-risk, including those who have already experienced arrest or incarceration. All youth are recruited directly from six Denver Public Schools partners, mental health organizations, juvenile justice programs, foster care programs and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Recruited youth indicate an interest in the selection and pursuit of choice-driven career options focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and/or other employment opportunities. Team activities build social competence and workplace soft skills, such as communication and time management while strengthening youth's awareness of high-tech careers and related education. RAMP helps them build necessary skills for successfully transitioning into adulthood and becoming productive members of our community. RAMP is a program of the Employment Works Division of Ability Connection Colorado.

Denver RAMP seeks to address risk factors early on before they have lifelong impact. On average, only 30% of at risk youth with disabilities receive high school degrees, 72% live in poverty and only 32% of individuals with disabilities, 18-64, are working, although two thirds would like to be. In challenging fields of study and employment, such as STEM, individuals with disabilities are the most underrepresented.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

During FYE 2020, 275 total youth were involved with several of Employment Works' youth programs, while 120 youth were enrolled and provided direct services through RAMP. Student identification is based upon mild to moderate disability and those in the at-risk category, including students who have experienced truancy, have had disciplinary issues, have mental health challenges, or are in foster care.

Additionally, we have increased our services to youth who have experienced trauma and dropped out of school. in FYE 2020, 89% of youth were economically disadvantaged; 35% had learning challenges; 13%, cognitive disabilities; 33%, mental health issues; and 4%, physical challenges. Historically, youth served with status offenses have ranged from 10-20% from year to year. The program was ethnically diverse with 15% African American, 20% Caucasian and 61% of Hispanic/Latin heritage. RAMP currently provides service to over 120 youth per year. With funding, RAMP hopes to increase the number of youth served to over 300 per year.

RAMP GOALS 1. RAMP will expand to serve over 300 youth in the entire Denver Metro Area.

2. RAMP youth will be successful in their choice-driven pursuits before transitioning out of the program.

3. RAMP will increase its business partnerships with employers and industry professionals.

4. Out of school youth will have the option to receive choice-driven paid work experience opportunities in STEM fields and connected experiences in a variety of other fields.

Modeled on evidence-based practices and proven track records of success over the last 11 years, Denver's RAMP conducts activities year-round from August to August. During the academic year, RAMP implements 4 phases of engaging career-focused group and individual mentoring activities. Each phase lasts approximately a school year quarter and includes 10-12 weekly mentoring sessions. Summer activities include youth internships, employment, and group outings and activities. Throughout the program, Denver's RAMP partners with employers and industry professionals, who serve as guest speakers and provide technical skills training, industry related materials, worksite tours, job shadowing and real work experiences.

RAMP is the only youth mentoring program based upon the high quality national High School High Tech Program in Colorado, and it fills a critical gap in services by serving a vulnerable, at-risk Colorado population. According to available statistics from the Institute for Educational Leadership, youth with disabilities are four times more likely to be adjudicated and only 38% receive high school degrees. SMART data reveals that in challenging fields of study and employment, such as STEM, individuals with disabilities are the most underrepresented. Consequently,the demand to expand the program to serve more high risk youth is high. Helping us with funding to successfully meet this demand is the issue to be addressed by the grant.

Faith in Action

Class

Human Services 

Beneficiaries

Aging/Elderly/Senior Citizens
Disabled
Blind & Vision Impaired
Deaf & Hearing Impaired
Disabled

Description

Faith In Action assists seniors and individuals with disabilities in the Boulder County area with Activities of Daily Living:
● Transportation
● Participation in leisure activities
● Community outings
● Companionship
● Respite for caregivers
● Homemaking skills
● Home and yard maintenance
● Telephone and email
● Small moving projects

CIRCLES OF FRIENDS
Faith in Action will come to your faith-based or community organization to recruit and train a Circle of Friends including volunteers, project coordinators, and facilitators. The Circle is built around individuals who require assistance to be able to fully participate in their community.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success


Guardianship Alliance of Colorado

Class

Human Services 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Aging/Elderly/Senior Citizens
Disabled
Mentally/Emotionally Disabled

Description

The Guardianship Alliance of Colorado (GAC) believes that all persons are entitled to lives of respect and dignity with the freedom to exercise their rights and make their own decisions to the full extent of their abilities. The mission of the Alliance is to assure that these rights are protected and that appropriate decision-making support is available to adults in Colorado with seriously impaired decision-making capacity. The Alliance provides information regarding guardianship, referrals to professionals, guardianship training for adults, public education and in-service training, and advocacy for improvements in guardianship and conservatorship laws. Additionally, the Alliance enlists volunteer guardians for adults, who are low-income, isolated and incapacitated. The Alliance is Colorado's only resource for information and training related to the guardianship process and protecting the rights and dignity of vulnerable adults.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success


Infantile Scoliosis Outreach Program

Class

Health Care 

Beneficiaries

Children birth to age 3
Families
Infants/Babies (under age 5)
At-Risk Populations
Disabled

Description

ISOP is THE resource for support and treatment of Progressive Infantile Scoliosis (PIS). We advocate for the Mehta Casting Method, which is the only noninvasive curative treatment for PIS.

ISOP provides support for families through:
● The CAST online support group.
● An active Facebook presence.
● Direct phone & email support with founder Heather Hyatt Montoya.

ISOP facilitates free, hands-on training in the Mehta Casting method for surgeons, physicians and healthcare professionals worldwide.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Parent to Parent of Colorado (P2P) / EMPOWER CO

Class

Human Services 

Beneficiaries

Parents
People/Families of People with Health Conditions
People/Families with of People with Developmental Disabilities
People/Families with of People with Disabilities
People/Families with of People with Psychological Disabilities

Description

At P2P, we connect families of sons & daughters with disabilities and special health care needs to emotional and informational support. Parenting our sons & daughters can be complex, challenging, delightful and overwhelming. With a parent to parent connection, families can find on-going support throughout the year. We support over 19,000 individuals each year through:

● Online Parent Support Groups (English & Spanish) available 24/7/365.
● Individual support with trained Support Parents.
● Toll-free information line in English and Spanish.
● Website with valuable family resources.
● Navigation of resources by expert parents.
● Connections with support groups around the State.
● Opportunities to participate in developing & changing public policy.
● Parent voices & perspectives in our blog "Parenting with Altitude".

THE POWER OF PARENT SUPPORT:
● Parents and families realize that they are not alone
● You can connect with other parents who understand
● Together we can make a difference

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

P2P served over 5,000 Parent Members across Colorado in 2018-2019 with a 9% increase in membership from the previous year.
~ 5,025 P2P database members.
~ 2,972 Facebook Followers
~ 123 parents were matched and provided w/individual support from a trained Support Parent.
~ 100 parents are active in our Padre a Padre de Colorado--Spanish Language Support Group

Key aspects of this profile information have been reviewed by Community First Foundation staff. Each organization is exclusively responsible for the content that appears on the profile page. Community First Foundation offers general guidance as to the purpose of each area but does not require or encourage charities to include anything in particular in each section.