Colorado State University Awarded Grants from Bohemian Foundation in Support of Local Programs

Colorado State University was recently awarded $47,000 in grants from the Bohemian Foundation to fund initiatives that will benefit the Northern Colorado Community.

The grants were awarded to the College of Liberal Arts, the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

A $29,938 grant to the Department of Human Development and Family Studies funds Project SECURE, a professional development program for infant and toddler child care providers and parents. The program focuses on training providers to develop emotional bonds with the children in their care, which helps children become emotionally secure adults. The program also will focus on getting children ready for school through developing social, cognitive and literacy skills.

Workshops and interactive coaching will be used to train providers and parents to be more emotionally available and to create secure connections.

Research shows that more than half of all infants and toddlers are not securely attached to their child care providers, and a third are not securely attached to their parents. A secure, emotional bond between parents and their babies and children is crucial in shaping the future success of the children. The same is true, to a lesser extent, of bonds between care givers and children.

The top predictor of how children function as adults is a baby’s and child’s secure bonding with caregivers, according to Zeynep Biringen, associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and Project SECURE leader.

Secure children have an edge in life, and are generally more attentive in school, relate better to care givers and have better social skills.

Emotional availability is a quality of a caregiver and child relationship that predicts the security of their bond. On the caregiver’s side, the relationship is characterized by sensitivity, appropriate structuring, non-intrusiveness and non-hostility. In return, the child is responsive and involved with the caregiver. Parents can learn to observe the nonverbal and verbal signs of their child’s emotional availability toward them and turn things around if their child has "shut down" emotionally or their child has become overly emotional, needy and clingy – two major signs that are red flags.

The project also receives funding from the Buell Foundation.

A $12,000 grant to the Department of Mathematics funds a collaboration with the Poudre School District on mathematical education. Colorado State math students and faculty will team with Poudre School district teachers through the Synergistic Mathematics Program, which targets elementary students who have advanced skills and are seeking challenges beyond standard curriculum. Through math and chess, the grant aims to develop critical thinking and analytical and special skills among local students. Among the specific programs that will be developed are weekly mathematical problem solving sessions, called the Colorado Math League, when Colorado State faculty and students discuss advance math competition problems with 4-6 grade students at Tavelli Elementary School. The program currently has 40 participating students at Tavelli and will be expanded to two additional local schools in the next year via the Bohemian grant.

The grant also provides support to university involvement in Poudre School District chess clubs and tournaments, organized by the district’s gifted and talented program coordinator to help students develop critical thinking skills and improve academic performance.

The program was developed because students in the United States are reported to lag behind foreign students in mathematical skills, and research shows a significant drop in enrichment programs for high achieving students.

A $5,280 grant to the College of Liberal Arts will fund the newly formed Center for Public Deliberation, housed in the Department of Speech Communication. The center works to enhance the role of the public in local decision making and improve the civic skills and involvement of people in the community. It will engage the local community with public forums on national and local issues and workshops tied to public participation and civic engagement. The university’s center will work closely with the Fort Collins city government, the Poudre School district, local media and community organizations.

When addressing national issues, the center will provide participants with a better sense of the issues and a chance to express opinions and listen to the opinions of others. Forums on local issues will be strongly connected to local officials. All forums will be provided free of charge, but workshops may include a minimal registration fee to cover the cost of materials.

The center is also supported by a grant from the Council on Public Policy Education and funds from the Department of Speech Communication.