CULTURAL OFFICE OF THE PIKES PEAK REGION EXPANDS ARTS OPPORTUNITIES FOR MILITARY COMMUNITY

The Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region and Colorado Creative Industries have announced Military Arts Connection, as part of Creative Forces, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and the state and local arts agencies. Creative Forces began in military and veteran medical facilities, including Fort Carson’s Warrior Recovery Center, via the integration of creative arts therapies into treatment plans for military service members with traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions.

“Serving our military who have served us honorably is a privilege for the National Endowment for the Arts,” said acting chairman Mary Anne Carter. “Military Arts Connection, the Community Connections project for Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region, will further our understanding of how the arts improve health and well-being and enrich the lives of our military personnel and veterans around the nation.”

Military Arts Connection will leverage the power of the arts to help military service members, veterans and their families heal from the trauma of war, and facilitate community connections necessary for continued success in ongoing recovery and reintegration processes. Additionally, MilitaryArtsConnection.org will allow military and veteran service providers to access free arts-based therapies and cultural engagement experiences on behalf of their patients and clients.

The Military Arts Connection program will generate new economic opportunities for the local artists who will share their talents and offer positive interventions and creative experiences in support of military populations across the Pikes Peak region. In addition to funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Military Arts Connection is also supported by a grant from the Colorado Springs Health Foundation.

“The development of our Military Arts Connection program under the umbrella of the national Creative Forces initiative offers an exciting opportunity for the Cultural Office, and our entire arts community, to support and engage local military populations in a way that is meaningful and mutually beneficial,” said Cultural Office Executive Director Andy Vick.

Military Arts Connection is one of 11 Community Connections projects supported across the country.

PIKES PEAK COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS PROVIDE FREE TAX PREPARATION FOR FAMILIES

This tax season, Pikes Peak Community College is again partnering with Denver-based Piton Foundation to provide free tax preparation services through the Tax Help Colorado program. IRS-certified accounting students are now preparing and filing tax returns free of charge for individuals with household incomes of $55,000 a year or less.

This free service will be offered at PPCC’s Centennial Campus on the second floor rotunda, 5675 S. Academy Blvd., every Saturday through March 23 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Appointments only. Call 502-4829 or email TaxHelpCO@PPCC.edu to schedule an appointment. Clients should bring their social security cards or ITINs, photo ID and tax documents.

A list of all the Tax Help Colorado sites, as well as the locations of other free tax assistance sites in Colorado, is available by calling 2-1-1 or visiting GetAheadColorado.org.

Last year, 23 PPCC accounting students and community volunteers spent more than 1,065 hours helping 400 taxpayers file their tax returns. This saved an average of approximately $250 per taxpayer that might have been spent on tax preparation costs to a paid preparer.

“In addition to cost savings, our students’ and volunteers’ knowledge of the Earned Income Credit and other relevant tax laws allowed our clients to receive over $1 million in federal and state refunds, having an estimated total economic impact to the region of $1.1 million. We have the Piton Foundation to thank for providing excellent training materials for their success,” said Melissa Allen, PPCC accounting and finance department chair.

In total, Tax Help Colorado volunteers prepared taxes for nearly 7,650 taxpayers who received more than $12.65 million in refunds and saved taxpayers $1.5 million in tax preparation fees.

NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS PROVIDING HEALTH-AND-HUMAN SERVICE PROGRAMMING INVITED TO APPLY FOR PPUW FUNDING

The Pikes Peak United Way (PPUW) Community Investment application process has begun. Nonprofit 501 ©(3) organizations providing health-and-human service programming in Teller County may submit proposals for funding consideration by a team of PPUW volunteers. All requests must be consistent with the mission, vision and guidelines of PPUW. Nonprofits that are interested can find detailed information at ppunitedway.org/your-impact.

The Community Investment Fund is made up of donations from community members during the Pikes Peak United Way annual giving campaign. Nonprofit organizations who meet the eligibility criteria for the fund submit applications which are then reviewed by a team of more than 60 volunteers, who, during a three month period, will review grant applications, financial records and make visits to each nonprofit applicant to determine where the greatest need is.

This is a process unique to Pikes Peak United Way which ensures that all agencies selected are vetted and screened thoroughly. Once selected, these agencies are then referred to as Pikes Peak United Way Partner Agencies. Depending on the selection committee, the number of agencies chosen is between 25 and 35.

Pikes Peak United Way exists because issues such as poverty, homelessness and educational achievement require the collaboration of all sectors including for-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations, all levels of government and all levels of education. PPUW works with area agencies selected to improve local conditions.

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