It’s notable when a Colorado Springs homegrown organization receives recognition on a national level.
The National Head Start Association, in Washington, D.C., recently awarded the Colorado Springs Conservatory with its Edward Zigler Innovation Award for partnering with the Springs nonprofit CPCD (Community Partnership for Child Development) and its program Giving Children a Head Start. The award celebrates local programs that have partnered to create high-impact services for children and families.
“Anytime we can capture an award from a national perspective, from an organization that has such tremendous impact across the nation, and bring it home to Colorado Springs, that’s a big deal,” said CSC founder and CEO Linda Weise. CSC provides training in performing arts for ages 4-19. “These are typically really large-city kind of recipients.”
This fall will be CSC’s 22nd year of partnering with Head Start, a federal program for preschool children in low-income families. Last year, during the pandemic, CSC created a community portal for online Zoom classes that 1,600 Head Start families were able to access. At one point, Weise taught 10 classes a week for kids up to age 3 and their families when everything came to a halt and stuck at home.
“During COVID, it was all hands on deck,” Weise said. “These are kids who didn’t have access or didn’t have access during that time. What else could we possibly do for families that need education and interaction? The music and literacy program is something we do.”
Out of that came CSC’s half-hour kids show, “Simple Gift Series,” hosted by Weise, which debuted in September on Rocky Mountain PBS. In June, the program will be available in all 50 states.
“It’s right up there with National Endowment for the Arts and any of those national organizations,” Weise said about the Head Start award, “and here we are in little Colorado Springs and making this difference. It was innovation and impact. I’m so proud of it. I’m happy for us. There are educators now looking at our little city and what we’re doing.”
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