Building an elementary school at Atlas Preparatory School and creating a health care center and simulation lab for Pikes Peak Community College are among projects the Colorado Springs Health Foundation is supporting with a recent distribution of $3.4 million in grants.

A total of 33 organizations serving El Paso and Teller counties received a share of this year’s disbursement.

The grants address the foundation’s funding focus areas: “access to care for those in greatest need, healthcare workforce shortage, suicide prevention and healthy environments.”

PPCC received the largest grant, $900,000, which will help build a $20 million Center for Healthcare Education & Simulation north of its Rampart Range Campus in northern Colorado Springs.

The 69,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art center will accommodate nursing, surgical technology, pharmacy tech, EMS, and dental and medical assisting programs.

The grant is part of the $6 million PPCC still needs to raise for equipment for the simulation lab, in which students will learn to communicate and collaborate across departments, to increase positive patient outcomes.

The center will significantly increase the college’s ability to get health care grads into the region’s workforce, PPCC President Lance Bolton has said, with an estimated 325 additional annual health care graduates by 2022.

“The region’s current health care worker shortage is a result of a perfect storm,” he said.

“Not only is our region growing exponentially, but our population is aging, including our nurses. PPCC has been working in partnership with local health care providers for two years to find solutions”

Atlas Preparatory School, a charter school in Harrison School District 2, will apply its $135,000 grant toward an expansion project. The fifth- through 12th-grade school will build an elementary school to house grades kindergarten through fourth.

The new school will be built near the existing middle school at 1602 S. Murray Blvd.

Atlas Prep purchased the 25-acre parcel of land for $2.4 million in March, said Executive Director Brittney Stroh.

The $14.1 million project is receiving $11 million from a bond issue D-2 voters approved last November, she said.

The school plans to break ground in July or August, Stroh said. The opening is slated for July 2020, with kindergarten and first-grade classrooms. Subsequent grades will be added in upcoming years, for a total of 350 students.

This is the third expansion of the school, which opened as an urban charter school in 2009 with 85 students in fifth grade. There are 950 students in fifth- through 12th-grade this year.

More than 90 percent of students qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program, an indication of household poverty.

The new elementary school will have on-site social workers, a fully staffed mental health team and offerings such as parenting classes, Stroh said.

“We’re really excited to offer this as a community educational institution for our families,” she said.

UCHealth Memorial Hospital Foundation will use its $152,470 grant to hire an internal Zero Suicide coordinator, said Cari Karns, the foundation’s senior director.

The new employee will improve data collection regarding suicide attempts and further build a collaborative community network around the Zero Suicide prevention model.

Colorado lawmakers adopted the national program in 2016, promoting a suicide prevention protocol for health care providers.

“Behavioral health has been identified repeatedly as a huge need in the community,” Karns said.

“Suicide in particular is flagged in El Paso County, which is unfortunate. The fact that we have funding sources, including what the Colorado Springs Health Foundation is putting back into the community, is wonderful.”

A $600,000 grant will help renovate Panorama Park a 13.5-acre neighborhood park in southeast Colorado Springs adjacent to Panorama Middle School.

A $350,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado and funding from other foundations will be used to replace aging equipment and add new features based on community feedback.

The makeover to the treeless park at 4540 Fenton Road will represent the largest neighborhood park renovation in city history.

Calhan School District RJ-1 will upgrade its strength conditioning and fitness center and expand it to the community in upcoming years, said Superintendent David Slothower.

School kitchen equipment also will be replaced with a $74,553 grant for the district’s “healthy environments initiative,” he said.

For a complete list of this year’s grant recipients, go to

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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