We seek to inspire the exploration of ideas and appreciation of Colorado's diverse cultural heritage. Colorado Center for the Book, our reading and writing program department, has the further mission to foster a love of reading and books.
Colorado Humanities seeks to forge program partnerships throughout the state to promote excellence in humanities education through community programming.
Colorado Humanities, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was established in 1974, nine years after the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act was signed into law and the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) was founded. We are one of 56 humanities councils, and joined the Federation of State Humanities Councils when it was established in 1977. Originally a grant-making organization, we changed focus to design and implement our own programs, resources and activities. We provide a sampling here.
In 1985, we presented our first community program, Jazz: From Roots to Fusion, and in 1987 we initiated our Chautauqua Speakers Bureau. In 1989, we partnered with Havey Productions to produce the half-hour documentary, "Five States of Colorado," and will work with Havey again beginning in 2019 on a 90-minute remake of the film about the diverse nature of our state. In 1990, we formed the Rocky Mountain Humanities Network with the Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming humanities councils to present a program called "Trails Through Time," which included an extensive traveling exhibit, the symposium "Trails: Toward a New Western History," and multiple publications. In 1991 at Shorter AME Church, we presented our Outstanding Achievement Award in the Humanities to the author of "There is a River," Prof. Vincent Harding; our guest speaker for the event was social historian Lerone Bennett, Jr. In 1993, we conducted our first K-12 program, the Traveling History Trunk, and, in 1996, launched Conversations 2000, a community discussion series on five topics, including "Defining American Identity." In 2004, we merged with the Library of Congress affiliate, Colorado Center for the Book, which became our program department for reading and writing. We also initiated our early childhood and family literacy program Motheread/Fatheread Colorado that year, and in 2005 held our first annual Black History Live tour. In 2008, we initiated our K-12 student writing workshops program Writers in the Schools Colorado and in 2010 began development of the online resource, Colorado Encyclopedia. In 2013, we completed our 33-book set for 3rd Grade readers, "Great Lives in Colorado History." We frequently conduct listening tours, most recently in 2017, when we convened roundtable discussions in 20 communities to inform our regular five-year assessment and report to NEH, in which we will codify our major objectives for 2019-2023. The tour confirmed Colorado's eagerness for high quality humanities programs that help bridge divides in understanding between different community groups. Also in 2017, we piloted two new programs in Denver, Changing the Legacy of Race and Veterans' Writing Workshops. In 2018, we launched the veterans' workshop anthology "Still Coming Home," which is the basis for a facilitated discussion series in Denver during 2018-2019. Our Changing the Legacy of Race discussion series will also be further developed in 2019.
Major objectives for 2019-2023 will be to:
- learn about contemporary issues, provide inclusive arenas for discussion;
- ensure that our programs reflect Colorado's diverse and often competing narratives;
- develop and deliver humanities programs that engage Colorado communities in important conversations about the challenges and responsibilities of living in a democratic society;
- develop and deliver programs that enhance and inspire learning through the humanities and encourage all Coloradans to be lifelong learners;
- develop and deliver humanities programs that embrace our cultural, ethnic and racial diversity;
- develop and deliver programs of particular interest and value to African American, Asian American, Latino/a, and Native American Coloradans;
- to collaborate with program partners to the greatest extent possible, to develop and deliver humanities programs statewide.
We believe that the humanities are not just a collection of academic disciplines, they are the story of human experience, aspiration, struggle, and achievement: history; literature; comparative religion; anthropology; linguistics; languages; archeology; jurisprudence; ethics; philosophy; theory of the arts; areas of the social sciences; ethnomusicology; rhetoric; media studies; culture, ethnic and gender studies; and more. The humanities are at the core of education at all levels. They foster community engagement, civil discourse and generational continuity. They help us understand what it means to be human.
Exploring the humanities is not an elitist pursuit. Anyone can find access to a wealth of knowledge inherent the humanities, whether for personal enjoyment and satisfaction, or professional development.
We have forged hundreds of community partnerships, and have created more than 80 unique educational initiatives in our 43-year history. We provide programs at no cost to participants. We reach an estimated 200,000 people each year as program partners, participants and/or audiences. More than 85% of our annual budget goes directly to programs, and we are grateful for the generous contributions from businesses, foundations and individuals that make it possible.
We are writing today because we fully support the Colorado Encyclopedia program, we like using it in the classroom for research, and we believe it is an important resource for Colorado. This is one secondary source that we can trust because it is written by people who really know something. In our research that is important. An encyclopedia must be trustworthy, valuable, and scholarly. This one is, ad that is important, particularly because it is a free resource. We have used the entries for research, and we know that it has materials that we don't have in the classroom. That is a big help in our research …
-Adams 12 School District students in the Discover Colorado Preservation Program
Humanities education is a cornerstone of civic engagement. There are few agencies that have achieved the level of success that Colorado Humanities has in drawing diverse communities into a common, human experience.
-Hasan Davis, Living History Scholar/Performer, former Commissioner of Kentucky Juvenile Justice, and participant in Colorado Humanities' Black History Live program
I feel so fortunate for the experience my students and I have had over the years participating in these rich writing opportunities offered by Colorado Humanities.
-Val Wheeler, Middle School Teacher, Boulder
I'm awed by Motheread/Fatheread Colorado. The recent training institutes in Denver were challenging, interactive and life changing for me. They revolutionized how I think about early literacy and the value of parent/child interaction toward school-readiness-a total paradigm shift. Motheread/Fatheread Colorado has made our approach to story time more cohesive, comprehensive and strategic. I'm more able to help parents create early literacy environments in their homes-they are very receptive and have become more engaged.
-Marie Addleman, Youth Services Library Assistant, Martin Luther King Library
This is what it was like watching the Young Chautauqua Performers ... all three of their performances showed outstanding memorization skills and courage. Their presentation was a good time, but let's not forget how much learning was involved! Can education be fun? You bet your Molly Brown it can!
-Alyssa Quiett, Denver Post's Colorado Kids Reporter
Thanks again for all Colorado Humanities has done for Overland.
-Steve Helfant, English Department, Overland High School
We thank Colorado Humanities for their continued support of our efforts to promote the mission of Four Mile Historic Park, and for their help connecting to and entertaining our members and the community of the Denver Metro area.
-Barb Gibson, executive director, Four Mile Historic Park, Denver
Colorado Humanities has been a valued partner and strong supporter of the Museum of Western Colorado for many years, and has helped touch the lives of thousands of people. The organization has supported numerous exhibits and programs, all of which have given western Colorado residents greater appreciation for the humanities. Colorado Humanities is a wonderful partner for whom we are truly grateful.
-Mike Perry, former director, Museum of Western Colorado, Grand Junction
For the Authors in the Community program, I've done many author visits to schools and have found that it's incredibly rewarding to students, teachers, and parents in the community. The entire school community bonds together in preparation for the visit, and their excitement is palpable throughout the day of my visit. Students often tell me how my visit has sparked a new passion for reading books and even writing their own stories. It's especially rewarding for me when years later, students email me to say that my visit has had a lasting, even life-changing, impact on their relationship to literature. Many of the schools I visit through this program serve populations of underprivileged and marginalized students, and they can't rely on PTO funds to pay for an author visit. These are the students who need Colorado Humanities programs the most.
-Laura Resau, Colorado author
I am always astonished by the impact the Young Chautauqua program has on my students. It entertains, enlightens, and spurs students' interest in cultural history. This program has enhanced the learning in my classroom more than anything else.
-Brooke Tolmachoff, Social Studies Coordinator, Adams 12 School District
Thanks to Colorado Humanities' generosity and kindness, our staff and students will be able to keep up on current events in our state, and access this amazing educational resource.
-Patrick Hyatt, Principal, Vineland 6-8 School, Pueblo, and Joanne Mikasa, Library Technician Vineland 6-8 Library
I so appreciate the Black History Live program ... student reaction is impressive.
-Teacher participant, Overland High School, Aurora
Letters About Literature allowed our students an opportunity to explore their connection with an author and his book. They are now more alert to the impact that literature can have on a reader in ways that are both scholastic and personal.
-Carol Tripoli, teacher, The Vanguard School, Colorado Springs
Chautauqua expands on what you would never learn in the classroom, the details of a character's life and challenges, and the historical context.
-Mesa County 11th grade YC student