Moving the Needle

A By-the-Numbers Look at Aspen Community Foundation's Cradle-to-Career Initiative

“We launched Cradle to Career in 2012 to address what we saw as a quiet crisis in our community,” says Tamara Tormohlen. As the executive director for the Basalt-based Aspen Community Foundation (ACF), she notes that the Foundation was finding deep achievement gaps appearing as early as kindergarten in classrooms across the valley. “If those gaps aren’t addressed, they persist through high school. We found that local young people were graduating unprepared for college and career; we wanted to help give all local children more opportunity to one day build, as adults, their own self-sustaining, enriching lives.”

Nearly a decade after its inception, ACF’s Cradle to Career Initiative has brought together scores of entities from across our region to implement its youth success goals. Those focus areas are: Secure the Start, promoting the healthy development of children and ensuring they enter kindergarten ready to learn; Thriving Youth, supporting youth in building the social and emotional competencies they need to thrive; and Envision the Future, providing resources for students to succeed academically and be prepared with a plan for life after high school.

Learn more about ACF and Cradle to Career at


  • 20,000: number of children in our community

From Aspen to Parachute, many of our region’s young people face significant barriers to health, academic, and lifelong success—which often surface as achievement gaps between Anglo and Latinx youth. The Foundation and its partners are committed to advancing equity in their work with local students. For nearly a decade, ACF’s Cradle to Career Initiative has impacted the lives of thousands of area students and helped strengthen the ecosystem for youth success through collaborations with numerous regional entities.


  • 32: percentage of children not Kindergarten-ready

Research shows that young minds need a foundation of support and nurturing in order to learn, and that the first years of life are essential for lifelong health and wellbeing. Early experiences help form neural pathways, establishing the architecture of the brain. Stress in early life can negatively affect brain development and long-term functioning. ACF endeavors to ensure that all local children have access to safe, high-quality care environments in early childhood, which help lay the groundwork for resiliency and success later in life. 


  • 13: percentage of graduates with no post-high school plans

It’s estimated that three quarters of all jobs in Colorado require some form of postsecondary education. As they embark on life after high school, young people face a daunting array of options. Having opportunities to learn about these options first-hand is a pressing need in our community. Cradle to Career works to help students understand their options, learn about college and career training programs, and make a plan for life after high school. 


  • 100+: number of partners and organizations involved 

ACF serves as the backbone for collaboration among our community’s three counties (Garfield/Eagle/Pitkin), 14 municipalities, and four school districts. The Foundation also partners with dozens of nonprofits and area businesses to bring Cradle to Career’s primary goals to fruition. By convening local organizations and leading regional stakeholders, this initiative strives to “move the needle” toward youth success.

  • 108a7927-300?v=1

Related Businesses

Related Articles