Having done all the school-mom things, Colleen Skates is now working to help put two children and herself through college. She can well appreciate the cost of higher education, and she's in a position to help others find ways to make a dent in those huge expenditures.
As Executive Director of Bootstraps, Colleen works with the board of directors as well as the students who receive scholarships or interest-free student loans through the organization. It's only been since last year that Bootstraps has had an executive director; in its 60-year history, board members had always done all the reviewing of applications and awarding of money, fundraising, and coordination of events.
Nearly 12 years ago Colleen started doing the bookkeeping for the organization, gradually taking on more and more responsibilities. She likes being busy, keeping everything under control, meeting people, talking about Bootstraps, and promoting the organization whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Last year alone Bootstraps made $160,000 in new awards to 46 students (both scholarships and loans) with another $25,000 in repeat loans. Most scholarships are for a single year, but loans may be multi-year if students reapply.
"Most money comes from community members helping local kids," she points out. "Very few organizations are like that."
Colleen is in the midst of getting her Masters in Nonprofit Management at the University of Colorado at Denver and hopes to apply her degree to growing the nonprofit organization she calls her employer.
Colleen and her husband moved to Colorado from Massachusetts and have lived in the Conifer area since 1995. For 14 years she worked as a financial analyst at Lockheed and realized that she missed helping people. Her knowledge of bookkeeping allowed her to be home with her children.
While her kids were in school, she volunteered in the schools helping with reading although her own children didn't need that help. For awhile she taught at the Little White Schoolhouse in Conifer. She served as president of the Conifer High School PTA.
Currently, she serves on the advisory board with Community First Foundation, which meets quarterly to discuss matters related to the Giving First arm of the foundation.