Soon the streets of Telluride will see fewer kids clad in green and yellow Telluride Academy shirts. As the Academy winds down its 32nd year of programming, it seems there is much to celebrate.

The summer saw very strong numbers for one of Telluride’s most successful non-profits: over 800 Children participated in 100+ after-school and summer enrichment programs.

“We offer something for everyone” explains Luke Brown, the Academy’s Program Director. “The opportunities available at the Academy are limitless. We strive to offer unique challenges for kids to try their hand at a variety of new adventure sports, enrichment activities and artistic expressions. With programming offered for students ages five –17, the Academy allows kids to return year after year and continue to develop their skills sets and build a solid foundation for an active and adventurous lifestyle.”

In addition to providing challenging outdoor educational opportunities, the Academy also offers a number of arts and theater programs, as well as international travel opportunities throughout the year.

This  summer the organization hosted students from most of the countries the Academy has visited over the past five years as part of their Mudd Butts International (MBI) program. Over 40 students from the U.S. and abroad gathered together here in Telluride for an unforgettable reunion. They traveled to the region from Vietnam, Turkey, Ireland, Chile and Jordan and, together with their friends from the United States, spent two weeks here in Telluride studying everything from cooking to International Politics. Wendy Brooks, the founder of the Telluride Academy, remains the organization’s “MBI” Program Director and was the heart and mind behind this summer’s Global Mountain Theater.

“It was a true melding of cultures” explains Brooks. “It definitely took a village. So many people volunteered their time and together we provided our International visitors with a trip they will remember for a lifetime.”

2012 also marked the 2nd year the Academy partnered with National Inclusion Project. The partnership provides funding as well as training to Academy staff  but is specifically geared toward working with children with disabilities.

“We are thrilled about this continued partnership” said Elaine Demas, Executive Director of Telluride Academy. “The intention is to offer children with disabilities the same experiences we offer all children in an environment that is inclusive. Translation: all  children are working and playing together. From what we have learned from our training with the National Inclusion Project, as well as the feedback we have received from the parents of these children, inviting them to be included and providing them the resources they need to feel supported, creates a wonderful positive experience for everyone, both the child with the disability, as well as all the other fully abled kids in the group.”

As part of its inclusion efforts, the Academy lent its support to the international Spread-the-Word-to-End-the-Word campaign thanks to the generosity of Perfect Sense Digital. The mission of the campaign ( is to eliminate the derogatory use of the word “retarded” from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.

“The Academy experience has had a tremendous impact on Matthew increasing his self-confidence and self-esteem. We wanted to help the Academy’s efforts to build inclusive communities and nurture a future generation of compassionate and caring individuals,” said Perfect Sense Digital co-founder, David Gang.
(David’s son Matthew, who has Downs syndrome, has been attending the Academy since 2007 “and loving every minute of it.”)

Lastly, in case you haven’t heard, the Academy also has a new home. In May of 2011, the organization purchased a small commercial condominium at the base of Lift 7 in the Cimarron complex.

“It’s every non-profits dream to own its own home and I am excited to have been able to participate in making that happen for the Academy” said Demas.

The Academy is in the midst of a capital campaign to pay for its new 1,100 sq. ft. office.

“We are so fortunate to have such a dedicated Board of Directors and Trustees, which supported our efforts” continues Demas. “Their financial contributions in the fall of last year helped us kick start what has thus far been a very successful campaign.”

A $75,000 Special Initiative Grant was awarded to the Academy by the Telluride Foundation in December.  Added to all of this was support from two local grantors: Just For Kids Foundation and the Far-Away Foundation as well as $77,265 in private donations from Academy families.

Thus far and all totaled the Academy has raised $237, 525. “That leaves just $72,250 to go” explains Demas.
“Although we know the last $68,000 will be the hardest to secure, we are committed to complete the campaign by the end of this year and of course appreciate everyone’s support.”

To learn more about the Academy’s Capital Campaign or to make donation, visit the Academy’s website at

One thing is for sure, given the Academy’s solid leadership and the fantastic programs it offers local and visiting children, the Academy will be around for a very long time and for that, the extended Telluride community is very grateful.

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