DENVER — The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded $7 million in grants at its meeting in Fort Morgan.
One of the recipients was the North Conejos Activity Complex. The Centauri High School track received a $350,000 grant in Conejos County.
Conejos County partnered with the North Conejos School District to invest GOCO funding to construct a Colorado High School Activities Association-sanctioned track, replacing the original dirt track installed in the 1960s. Students played an important role in the planning process, engaging in math, science, and writing assignments to design and voice support for the track.
Once complete the track will benefit more than just athletes. Parents often walk the existing track while their kids are at practice, and the community at-large lacks safely accessible places to walk. The current dirt track is uneven and often inaccessible due to bad weather. An upgraded, all-weather track will create a free place for residents of all ages and abilities to be active and will allow the school district to host track competitions for the first time.
To date, GOCO has invested more than $4.2 million in Conejos County, most recently awarding Antonito a $1 million grant to get kids outside as part of GOCO's Inspire Initiative. GOCO has also conserved more than 3,800 acres in the county and funded projects like the La Jara Park n Play complex, the La Jara Athletic Park Plan and Guadalupe Elementary's playground.
The majority of the funding, totaling $5.5 million, was awarded through GOCO’s Local Government grant programs that fund local parks and outdoor recreation (LPOR) and planning projects. In addition to building or upgrading outdoor recreational facilities of all sizes and types, these grants also help local governmnents engage the public and strategically plan future projects.
Nearly $1 million in additional funding was awarded from the School Yard Initiative (SYI), which help schools that partner with their local governments to build engaging outdoor spaces for students to learn and play. All school yards must be designed, in part, by students, and funded schools are eligible to become part of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Schools and Outdoor Learning Environment (SOLE) program.
The final program to award funding was a new grant program born out of a longstanding partnership between GOCO and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the Director’s Innovation Fund.
The program creates a funding source for one-time, innovative projects that would not otherwise receive funding from either organization. CPW receives half of GOCO’s funding each year for statewide programs, wildlife, and state parks through an annual investment proposal, however many innovative, smaller projects fall outside current funding parameters.
In total, GOCO funding will: