By

April 6, 2020

By Carrie Besnette Hauser

We are all adjusting to the massive upheaval to our lives caused by COVID-19. The past month defies belief, as if we’ve been in an alternate universe or horrible dream. What hurts most is the impact on our beautiful mountain towns and the people who make them so special. The pandemic reached us quickly and deeply, and a long road lies ahead.

Nonetheless, I am certain about one thing: We will recover – emerging stronger, kinder, more tolerant and empathetic, and better stewards of our fragile planet. This episode has illustrated how interconnected we are to one another and the world.

Colorado Mountain College considers its local communities family. In this time of need, we intend to reinvest in the businesses and residents who have always supported us. While we can’t do everything, we will respond – today, tomorrow and together, with you.

For the first time in history, for the summer 2020 term, CMC will waive all tuition, fees and textbook costs for in-district students, all in-state students currently enrolled in the spring term who are continuing their education with us, and any local employee recently displaced due to public health orders. This plan includes ESL and GED courses, as well as classes for local high school students hoping to earn college credits after a disruptive spring semester.

We will extend the President’s Scholarship deadline and open it to students who graduated from local high schools within the past three years. For students who had plans to go away for college this fall and now face uncertainty, we welcome you with guaranteed admission and scholarship support.

The college recently donated personal protective equipment (PPE) to local hospitals and is making its facilities available where they might be needed. In support of area K-12 school districts, we are developing free online tutoring options to assist parents thrust into home schooling.

In partnership with local chambers and business incubators, our team is organizing no-cost coaching and consulting to aid the hundreds of small businesses seeking to reopen or rebuild. From general business principles to website design to writing support, CMC faculty will lend expertise to those who compose the backbone of our local economies.

With the unanimous support of CMC’s elected board of trustees, we are able to do this thanks to federal and state support and internal savings.

Make no mistake, CMC will feel the pain. However, the impact will hit us in a year or so when property taxes and state revenues decline. In the meantime, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to those on the front lines of this crisis.

We recognize that taking college courses might not be top of mind for those who have recently lost jobs or are concerned about basic necessities. However, we must also prepare for an eventual recovery; studies confirm those with postsecondary credentials are the first to land on their feet. Consider investing in yourself. Emerge from this difficult time with new skills or training. Jumpstart or finish that college degree or certificate. Enhance your language proficiency. Along with our regularly scheduled summer courses that will all be delivered online, a special condensed Introduction to Hospitality Supervision series starts April 15.

Keep in mind that additional sources of financial aid can cover living expenses while you are a student. This includes assistance from the CMC Foundation, which recently earmarked $100,000 to support current students facing hardship that prevents them from staying in school. The foundation is also distributing $1.2 million in donor-supported scholarships for the 2020-21 academic year. Fund Sueños remains available for individuals who don’t qualify for federal financial aid. And, for those with limited access to computers or internet service, CMC can help here, too and is raising funds for student laptops; to help, please go to: cmcfoundation.org/give.

Like you, we don’t have all the answers in these unprecedented times. So, please send us your questions and comments and learn more at ColoradoMtn.edu/CMCResponds.

Carrie Besnette Hauser is president and CEO of Colorado Mountain College. She can be reached at president@coloradomtn.edu or @CMCPresident.