El Paso County Donates Taxpayer Money to Olympic Museum for Resiliency

We recently wrote an article about our research into $9,000,000 of taxpayer American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money that was doled out to 48 El Paso County non-profit organizations. In summary, each organization came up with a program or expanded on an existing program to assist El Paso County residents with COVID-19 pandemic recovery. The organizations were supposed to use the money to aid the community with counseling, substance abuse, mental health, behavioral health, suicide prevention, employment assistance, financial and debt counseling or budgeting, legal aid to prevent eviction or homelessness, or food insecurity.

Here’s the full list of the organizations that received the money:

OrganizationMoney Received
Pikes Peak United Way$1,200,000 
Care & Share Food Bank Inc$700,000 
UCCS$546,755 
Mountain Springs Church$400,000 
Silver Key Senior Services Inc$400,000 
Springs Recovery Connection$400,000 
Aspenpointe Health Services$400,000 
Mt Carmel Veterans Service Center$300,000 
Joint Initiatives for Youth and Families$300,000 
Inside Out Youth Services$300,000 
The PLACE$300,000 
Solid Rock Community Development$250,000 
Food To Power$250,000 
Springs Rescue Mission$230,000 
Safe Passage$225,660 
Catholic Charities of Colorado$200,000 
Forge Evolution$200,000 
United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum$200,000 
NAMI$154,580 
Careers in Construction Colorado$150,000 
Crossroads Turning Points Inc$150,000 
Homeward Pikes Peak$150,000 
Kingdom Builder’s Family Life$150,000 
Atlas Preparatory School $148,000 
Community Partnership for Children$110,000 
Boys and Girls Club$100,000 
Savio House$99,440 
Suicide Prevention Partnership of the Pikes Peak Region$93,200 
TESSA$84,200 
Crossfire Ministries Inc$72,000 
The Colorado Springs Child Nursery$70,000 
Heartspace Kids Inc$70,000 
Dream Centers-Mary’s Home $68,800 
CASA of the Pikes Peak Region$60,000 
Cheyenne Village Inc$60,000 
El Paso Pride Soccer Associate$50,000 
Project Angel Heart$50,000 
The Salvation Army$50,000 
Converge Lecture Series$35,000 
Garden of the Gods Foundation$30,000 
The Mindfulness and Positivity$30,000 
Colorado Springs Conservatory$25,000 
The Catamount Institute$25,000 
Southern Colorado Athletic Club$20,000 
Rocky Mountain Women’s Film $15,000 
Colorado Springs Sports Corporation$15,000 
Dance Alliance of the Pikes Peak Region$10,000 
Times of Refreshing Tabernacle$7,000 

Below is a highlight of one of the grant award recipients: the Olympic Museum. We’ll share more as we look into other recipients.

The Olympic Museum

El Paso County has a history of handing over our hard-earned dollars to the Olympic Museum. Who can forget the trade the county made with the museum just last summer? They gave the museum $500,000 of our taxpayer money in exchange for free museum passes for county employees. 

This time around, what did the county buy in exchange for the $200,000 taxpayer-funded Community Impact Grant from the ARPA federal taxpayer money?

They paid for “resiliency.” 

The Olympic Museum has had a “Becoming Your Personal Olympic Best” program since 2013. Becoming Your Personal Olympic Best has 17 full-time employees. In its grant application, the museum reported that the ARPA money would be used to help lower-income schools complete a program called Becoming Your Personal Olympic Best: A Resilient Future for Colorado Students. The first part of the program is virtual and taught by Harrison School District 4th-8th grade educators. A capstone of the project was described as, “an onsite immersive experience with instructions and direct interaction with an Olympic Athlete.”

In its application, the Olympic Museum reported it faced increased expenses and costs during COVID-19, and saw a substantial revenue decline. Maybe that’s because the projected museum visitor numbers were overly inflated from the get-go, and the ticket sales haven’t lived up to their expectations? This has been a boondoggle —pandemic or not. Taxpayers should not be on the hook for it. 

Specific to youth programming and this Community Impact Grant, the museum grant request reported a dramatically increased need to expand its curriculum offerings to provide resiliency for youth who suffered severe mental health consequences during the pandemic. The application went on to detail that the social isolation caused by shutdown of schools, fear, and uncertainty over the virus exacerbated health impacts within families of color, and differing public health responses contributed to a decline in youth mental health. 

Here is some more information on the Becoming Your Personal Olympic Best Program.  

Resiliency Outcomes?

Will the students who complete this program be more resilient as a result of the spending? We’ll never know if we got what we paid for. There is no concrete way to measure the outcome of this program. This is feel-good money handed out by politicians and bureaucrats. There may or may not be a problem and this grant may or may not be the solution. Government’s solution is to throw our money at it. 

Taxpayers need to stop looking to government to solve every problem — whether real or imaginary. Government needs to stick to the core functions: public safety, roads, and infrastructure.

Contact  your County Commissioners, and ask how they believe your taxpayer money should be spent. It’s time for some accountability and fiscal restraint, as we all face these unprecedented inflationary times.

Cami Bremer  CamiBremer@elpasoco.com

Carrie Geitner  CarrieGeitner@elpasoco.com

Longinos Gonzalez  LonginosGonzalezJr@elpasoco.com

Stan Vanderwerf  stanvanderwerf@elpasoco.com

Holly Williams   HollyWilliams@elpasoco.com

2 thoughts on “El Paso County Donates Taxpayer Money to Olympic Museum for Resiliency

  1. Were we not assured this behometh City of Chumps would pay for itself and they would never take taxpayer money? Everytime we turn around we supporting that thing. We had lots of company this year and not one was interested in the museum. We drove them by it and most laughed, calling it an insult to the beautiful scenery when they could see around the apartment complexes. If it had been important it would have been built as if it was important. The sooner this bunch running things gets out of office the better. If the city can survive that long. I call the last 8 years the big drain.

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