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Jeffco nonprofits awarded more than $987,000 from SCFD

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By AJ Vicens

After a months-long application process, 84 nonprofit organizations from all over Jefferson County will likely receive more than $987,000 from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District.

The Jeffco commissioners took recommendations on disbursing Jeffco's share of the SCFD money from the Jeffco Cultural Council on Aug. 5.

P.K. Worley, a member of the Jeffco Cultural Council, said the council met with the groups over a 10-week period beginning in March to hear and review proposals. After all the groups made presentations, each council member settled on an amount for each group, and the individual recommendations were averaged to come up with the final figures.

"It's tough," said Worley said, adding that he's proud to be involved in the process. "It's nice that we take — as a public that voted on this thing — we take that much interest and put that much faith in the arts, and we're willing to cough up a penny on every $10."

The organizations that ask for money are quite varied. The Colorado Lawyers for the Arts — a group that provides pro bono legal work to artists and arts organizations — asked for $3,000 for a project called Artists, Protect Yourselves! It was awarded $1,803.57.

The Evergreen Arts Council asked for general operating support to the tune of $65,521 and was awarded $38,460.71. The South Jefferson Youth Orchestra asked for $10,000 in general operating support and was given $7,000.

"The groups usually get around half of what they ask for," Worley said, noting that most groups get between 30 and 70 percent of their requests.

Worley added that funding decisions aren't as hard as they seem, because the application process requires organizations to identify how many people they serve.

"It does become a little bit empirical," Worley said. "Some organizations impact more people than others. It helps you make a decision. It's objective, not subjective."

Worley enjoys the process.

"It's a unique opportunity for volunteers to financially assist over 80 arts organizations in Jefferson County," Worley said. "To sit and review their good work and be able to say, 'Yes, we want to be able to continue to support you,' feels good."

The SCFD is an arts funding district that imposes a penny-per-$10 sales tax on voters in the five metro area counties and distributes about $40 million annually. It was authorized by voters in 1989 and was re-approved in 1994 and 2004, and is set to expire on June 30, 2018.

The funds are allocated based on a three-tier system. Tier one is made up of the Denver Art Museum, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Zoo and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. That tier gets about 65 percent of the proceeds.

Tier two is made up of nonprofits that have been providing services for at least five years and whose annual income exceeds $1.3 million. This tier gets 21 percent of the funds. Tier three organizations are the smaller groups, and they get about 13.5 percent of the funds.

The counties then split up that money, and evaluations are made by Jeffco's Cultural Council — the group created to manage the funds and make recommendations to the commissioners on allocating the money. Jeffco's 2008 portion was $987,393.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.