Bessie Minor Swift Foundation funds programs that promote literacy, reading and writing |

Bessie Minor Swift Foundation funds programs that promote literacy, reading and writing

The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation, formed by the owners and founder of Swift Communications, awards grants to programs that promote literacy, reading and writing skills as well as programs that focus on languages, sciences and interdisciplinary areas. Since 2008, more than $620,000 has been awarded to deserving organizations in the communities where Swift Communications conducts business.

The deadline for 2019 grant applications was Feb. 15 and more than 185 applications were received. The foundation grant criteria calls for detail about the number of people who will be impacted by the organization’s project and how significant a role the Bessie Minor Swift Foundation will play in the program. Further, applicants must provide a complete description of the project including objectives and strategies to meet those objectives, explain how the project will be evaluated and submit a budget. Recipients will report on their results and insights from their program once the projects are completed.

This year, applications were of exceptional quality and more than $83,156 has been awarded to 37 deserving organizations. The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation thanks the many groups that took the time and energy to apply and encourages those that were not selected to submit applications in the future. Applications will be accepted again starting Jan. 1, 2020, with a deadline of Feb. 15, 2020. For more information, visit the Bessie Minor website at

2019 Bessie Minor Swift Foundation Grants recipients in Colorado, The Fence Post is part of the Swift Communications’ family of publications.


Eagle County

Homestake Peak School



Purchase of an evidence-based literacy intervention program to support struggling middle school readers. Reading Plus will be used to help over 50 children with their fluency, comprehension, vocabulary and writing while increasing their motivation and confidence.

Garfield County

Literacy Outreach

Glenwood Springs


Programs support adult students who are at the lowest levels of literacy or English speaking proficiencies. Funds will be used to expand the tutoring library, purchase educational learning aids for adult literacy students, consumable textbooks and to update assessment materials. Volunteer tutors will work with adult students to develop skills in reading, writing, math or ESL. In some Hands-On English classes, students learn about a range of socially and culturally important topics.

Roaring Fork Valley Early Learning Fund

Glenwood Springs


A pilot program, 1-2-3 Let’s Read, to increase the home libraries of young children and provide literacy-building guidance for parents. Children in four preschool classrooms (72 children) will receive a free storybook every month, and parents will receive a custom-designed worksheet of learning activities (in English and Spanish) specific to each book. Teachers will receive custom-designed classroom activities for each book. Foundation funds will provide a direct match to funds from an individual donor allowing the pilot program to reach twice as many children.

Grand County

Fraser Valley Elementary School



Completion of a collection of third-grade level biographies in the library. Each year, the third grade does a special biography project: they choose a famous person, read a biography, and then create a “wax museum” (the students dress up) of the various figures about whom they have learned. By completing the collections of the series: “Who Was…”, “I Am…”’and “Totally True Adventures,” along with some additional volumes for sports figures, a much richer selection of books can be offered for the students to read about and to help them “become” the characters in whom they are most interested.

Pitkin County

Aspen Art Museum



An expansion of Story Art, a free program that includes storytelling and art making with 180 local, low-income, Spanish-speaking migrant children through collaboration with the nonprofit organization, Valley Settlement. This will allow the program to leverage art to alleviate issues of illiteracy and isolation.

Aspen Center for Environmental Studies



For four Family Science Nights programs at Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale and in RE-2 (Garfield County). ACES offers multi-generational learning for students and their parents, grandparents and siblings. Over 200 families will participate in Family Science Nights.

Routt County

Horizons Specialized Services

Steamboat Springs


An Early Intervention Program that encourages language development for children with intellectual or developmental delays or disabilities ages birth to 3. Early Intervention builds the foundation of literacy for children with speech/motor delays and those with social-emotional/sensory processing issues. Therapists will engage over 50 children in the area in pretend play and basic concepts of STEM with toys, musical instruments, hand puppets and other materials purchased using these funds.

Mountain Village Montessori Charter School

Steamboat Springs


Students explore and learn the math (circumference, diameter and radius), fitness, science, research skills and teamwork while building Grand Shelters Igloos ( on school property. Five kits will allow 30 children to work in small groups to learn how to build an Igloo and to study their history, write a book and create a slide show or poster to share.

Steamboat Springs Middle School

Steamboat Springs


A reading promotion program in the Middle School Library emphasizes diversity in reading. Emphasis will be not only on diversity in subject and genre, but stories that include diverse characters and backgrounds. These funds will be used to provide Playaways (audiobooks) paired with print books of the 15-20 most popular books to have risen to popularity out of this program. The books will become a part of the SSMS library collection for 415 students to utilize.

Tread of Pioneers Historical Commission

Steamboat Springs


A newspaper photo archival project. This multi-year project of the museum will preserve, organize, digitize and provide public access to the Steamboat Pilot newspaper photo archive to the general public.

Summit County

Summit Education Foundation



Summit Books for Kids takes a systems approach to helping children acquire literate behaviors including reading for pleasure and having books of their own at home. Fifty-five children in grades 3-5 at Upper Blue Elementary will be able to acquire eight books over the course of the year with the assistance of their teacher and will have an opportunity to share about their reading at home with their teacher.

Upper Blue Elementary School



High-interest books for all readers, but specifically reluctant readers, in grades 2-5. Funds will purchase classroom libraries for eight classrooms of approximately 160 total students. The focus will be on graphic novels that address everything from humor to friendships and problem solving. Reading scores have been increasing when students are reading consistently.

Silverthorne Elementary School



Incentives to students that encourage them to read at home each night. Reading logs will be used to record time spent reading at home (initialed by parents). If students meet the goal of reading 20 minutes per night, they will receive a free book to add to their personal library. Funding will kick-start the project with the purchase of approximately 140 books.

Weld County

Ann K. Heiman Elementary School



Purchase of a more diverse and relevant library of class sets of books for novel studies. The fifth grade at Ann K. Heiman Elementary School will teach literacy, social studies and science standards in an integrated way with 15 sets of novels (30 copies of each) that will be available in the library to serve well over 325 students.

Dos Rios Elementary School



Expansion of a Makerspace area set up through a previous grant received from the Bessie Minor Swift Foundation. Some 515 students have created and explored using high and low-tech materials. The next step is to incorporate more technology within the Makerspace area and to expand the ability for students to use their curiosity to create and adapt to various situations. Purchases will include Cubelets Mini Makers and a 3-D printer.

The Boys and Girls Club of Weld County Inc.



Materials for the Kidzlit and Book Club programs that focus on boosting literacy and filling in developmental gaps for members not performing at grade level. Purchases will include books, supplies and field trips. Using varied approaches based on ages, interests, and reading levels, members will gain the skills and confidence they need to be life-long readers.

Scott Elementary School



Engaging and diverse novel reading for use in a single classroom and beyond (serving over 250 students in total). This project will help increase comprehension through discussions in literacy circles and by having a range of novels from history to geography to science for use by those reading at the 2nd to 5th grade levels. Funds will purchase 15 sets of 30 books along with teacher guidebooks.

Milliken Middle School



Odyssey of the Mind teams utilize their project-based learning skills to meet challenges from a nationally designed curriculum on a yearly basis. The program requires students to solve up to five problems that hone STEM standards and encourage creative and imaginative “outside of the box” solutions generated by students themselves. Costs include hardware and wood as well as other materials such as mechanical and electronic components for “robotic vehicles” for multiple teams.

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