SOUTHERN COLORADO — Efforts to support hundreds of students and teachers in the Southern Colorado have been made possible thanks to the local organization, AFCEA Rocky Mountain Chapter. They help people in the community pursue a career in fields like science and technology.
The organization has been giving away scholarships and grant money to local schools, teachers, and students for the past 20 years. Last year alone, they gave away $300,000 to support STEM learning, with $100,000 in money going to nearly 30 teachers in El Paso County and Pueblo.
Mike Kloenne, a teacher at St. Mary's High School,has recieved grants from the organization every year since 2014. The grants range anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000.
"It's all about the students and giving them the resources they need to explore, to grow, and discern," said Kloenne. "They've helped us in so many ways. As a private school, sometimes we're challenged on where we can find funding sources."
The money has gone toward things like STEM-based items such as a stress analyzer, android tablets, computers, etc.
The organization also gave away $100,000 in grant money to UCCS and Pikes Peak Community College. Nicholas Dindyal, an engineering student, is one of the $2,500 scholarship recipients.
"The money I receive from those scholarships, I use to supplimenet my income, so I can spend more time at school," said Dindyal, who graduates in less than a year. "I was able to get this far through the support of organizations like AFCEA."
Russell Fellers, vice president of the AFCEA Rocky Mountain Chapter, says with the funds local teachers continue making a difference despite challenges over the past year.
"Many of these teachers were impacted by the COVID budget reductions, so we were happy to help them," said Fellers. "When we see a student be able to get a degree that they otherwise would not have because of the challenges of COVID, then we know our efforts are more than worthwhile."
Every year, AFCEA puts on a cyberspace symposium at the Broadmoor. Funds from that symposium go back to the local community.
The group also partners with other organizations and businesses to provide internships for high school students. They also fund a teacher grant program to help place teachers in areas where it's hard to get stem-qualified educators.