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Community Foundation grants $1.8 million to Animas High School

By February 26, 2021April 1st, 2021No Comments

Animas High School Secures $1.8 Million Donation towards New Campus at Fort Lewis College


DURANGO, February 26, 2021 – Animas High School has secured a $1.8 million donation through the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado towards construction of the high school’s new campus at Fort Lewis College. This generous donation brings the local project-based charter school, founded in 2009, one step closer to moving into its new state-of-the-art facility debt-free in fall 2022.

“The Community Foundation is honored to complete the BEST grant’s required local matching funds with this $1.8 million donation, ensuring that Animas High School will remain a strong educational asset in our community,” says Briggen Wrinkle, Executive Director for the Community Foundation. “Our funder prioritizes education that creates opportunities for students to thrive. We anticipate this generous local grant will ignite broad community support for a successful completion of Animas High School’s capital campaign.”

Last June, AHS was awarded $13.7 million through the Colorado Department of Education’s Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant program. In addition, AHS received $2.5 million through the Durango 9R School District bond issue in November 2020. The school has also been awarded $100,000 from Colorado Charter School Institute and this latest $1.8 million brings the total amount secured for the AHS building construction project to $18.1 million thus far.

AHS has contracted with Denver-based Anderson Mason Dale Architects (AMD) with support from Durango-based RMBA Architects to design its new school facility. In conjunction with the AHS Design Advisory Group (DAG), the architects are making exciting progress on the schematic design, with plans for issuance of design documents for preliminary estimate to the general contractor, Jaynes Corporation, by early April. Final construction documents are anticipated to be complete this summer with construction starting in fall 2021.

Philanthropy Expert has joined the AHS building construction team to spearhead a capital campaign to raise the remaining funds needed for the school to construct the new campus and move into the new building debt-free, ensuring the long-term financial stability and viability of the school. Melanie Ulle, founder and CEO of Philanthropy Expert shares, “We are thrilled to be working with Animas High School to complete their capital campaign.  We believe we can help leverage the incredible local and state support the school has already received to access additional resources and ensure that this school is a vital part of the community for a long time to come.”

“This generous donation is an extraordinary gift for our school and a resounding testament to our community’s support for the innovative, transformative education we offer students at Animas High School,” says AHS Head of School Sean Woytek. “We are humbled by this donation and thrilled to be moving forward with our plan to create a campus that will fully support our programs and curriculum through a 21st century design that supports experiential learning rooted in our unique, beautiful surroundings.”


About Animas High School

Animas High School prepares all students for college and postsecondary success by creating critical thinkers and engaged citizens through an innovative, student-centered, project-based curriculum. AHS was founded in 2009 by community members who saw a need for a distinctive school of choice in the Four Corners region. An award-winning, free, public school chartered through the Colorado Charter School Institute,  AHS serves approximately 200 students in grades 9-12 in Durango, Colorado.

About the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado

As a community facilitator, the Community Foundation works to increase efficiency, sustainability, and success for nonprofits, while maximizing effective grantmaking for philanthropists, to make Southwest Colorado a better place to live. In 2020, the Community Foundation infused nearly $4 million into the region. We invite you to create, grow and give funds through our careful management.

About the BEST Grant Program

Established in 2008 with the signing of C.R.S.22-43.7, BEST provides an annual amount of funding in the form of competitive grants to school districts, charter schools, institute charter schools, boards of cooperative educational services, and the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. BEST funds can be used for the construction of new schools as well as general construction and renovation of existing school facility systems and structures.

About Anderson Mason Dale Architects

AMD is a 60-person design firm based in Denver, Colorado for more than 40 years. They have provided a full range of services including the planning, programming, and design of buildings for colleges, universities, schools, libraries, justice facilities, office buildings, cultural venues, and housing. AMD has been awarded the American Institute of Architects’ Firm Award “a distinguished body of work” three times and has received numerous local, regional and national design awards.

About RMBA Architects

Since 1976, RMBA Architects has been a recognized leader in the design/build industry because of their ability to provide a single source of responsibility for facility development with services that include demographic studies, site selection and analysis, architecture, interior design, construction, and furniture/equipment specification and procurement. RMBA Architects’ commercial architecture includes a wide range of unique commercial project types, from ergonomic work environments to unique relaxing restaurants to retail and multi-functional spaces.

About Philanthropy Expert

The Denver-based Philanthropy Expert team has over 30 years of combined fundraising, philanthropic and civic engagement experience, creating public-private partnerships and maximizing the impact of philanthropic dollars.



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