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2023 February News Brief

By February 23, 2023Newsletter

News Briefs

Wood River Women's Foundation Sun Valley Ketchum Idaho

February 2023

News Brief

Grantee Spotlight

Alli Frank connected with Kaz Thea, Co-Founder of the
2022 Grantee Kids Mountain Fund’s Rota-Rippers


Rota-Rippers skiers and boarders at Rotarun

Q: How has the WRWF grant furthered the mission of your organization at this moment in time?

The lease packages provided to all the Rota Rippers and Rota Ravens participants who need equipment is paid for by Kids Mountain Fund (KMF). Without the $6,500 grant secured from WRWF it would be much more difficult and likely not possible for our families to participate.
Not only is the financial cost out of reach, but for parents of first-generation skiers, understanding the gear needed to safely participate in winter sports becomes a barrier to entry. These winter sports programs promote inclusion and acknowledge that diversity hasn’t always been reflected on ski slopes due to cost.
We believe strongly that kids who engage in active sports often improve their physical and mental health. Also, learning a new skill builds confidence, develops courage and improves self-esteem. Teachers report seeing behavioral improvements in the classroom due to participation in this program. Providing inclusivity with an expensive sport in our mountain town is a great achievement and can have lasting positive impacts in our community. Since starting the Rotarun program in 2018, we have provided approximately 488 leases to kids excited to ski and snowboard.

Q: With the support of the WRWF and the greater Blaine County community-at-large, where do you see the organization in three years?

We will certainly continue to support the Rota Rippers and Rota Ravens programs for as long as they are active. There is a new program being run on Rotarun for 15 middle schoolers who want to snowboard that we are excited to grow.
I would like to be able to secure enough funds to invest with a financial advisor to grow an investment fund for our Kids Mountain Fund. We strive to have future funds support kids programming (educational, recreational, environmental outdoor-focused) in Blaine County primarily with the interest earned from an investment fund. That is part of our vision for the future.
While our focus is on the programming being offered at Rotarun, that is not the only programming for which we provide scholarships. We have also provided scholarships to families who participate in ERC programs, Galena Camps, Syringa School programs, fly fishing, avalanche awareness, Mountain Adventure Camp, and rock climbing. With greater financial means we can offer scholarships to a wider range of programs in our valley.

Q: What is one BIG HOPE you have for the future of the Wood River Valley?

I hope for more inclusivity. I hope for barriers to be broken down. I hope for racial equity. I hear there is an excessive amount of racial infighting and bullying in the schools and that is heartbreaking.
I am proud of the work we do at Rotarun to help bring down walls and get kids on equal footing. Building courage, self-esteem, and equity in the sports program with young kids help create children who are more equipped to respect one another because they have better self-awareness and self-worth. Our program improves empathy for others, gives kids space to express emotions and validates one another through equality on the slopes.

Grantee in the News

I Have A Dream Foundation (IHADF)

Students hard at work with IHADF

WRWF congratulates Laura Rose-Lewis and Grantee, I Have a Dream Foundation on recently receiving a $100K award to develop summer trade school camps for students with career interests in fields such as construction!

100% of the 45 Dream Scholars who started with the program during 3rd grade in 2012 graduated in 2022. They were joined by ten Lewis Scholars—additional students who were added to the fold in the last few years.

Most of the graduates have gone on to colleges and universities, trade and vocational schools, military service or apprenticeships. These graduates are still in contact with I Have a Dream, which guaranteed them tuition support upon graduation.

Read more:
I Have a Dream Foundation Extends School to Break the Poverty Cycle
#repost from @eyeonsunvalley

Committee Corner – Grants

Co-Chairs Sarah Lurie & Linda Segre with Volunteer Coordinator Megan Pepin

The WRWF pooled fund Grants Committee consists of two co-chairs, a grantee engagement lead, an Application Review Team (ART) volunteer coordinator, and a cadre of experienced and new ARTs volunteers. Each ART has a leader who helps facilitate the grants process within their team.

During the annual grants cycle, WRWF funds are pooled to award grants to Blaine County nonprofits. The nonprofits are given an application window in which to apply for grants in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. Once the application period closes, applications are divided among the ARTs. Each team receives a diversified mix of applications spanning areas such as the arts, animal welfare, health and wellness, education, environment, recreation, and social services. In the 2023 grant cycle, WRWF received 39 applications divided among four ARTs consisting of 11-15 members each.

On March 15th from 1-5 pm MT there will be an important Zoom meeting where the nonprofit finalists will present their grant requests to the entire WRWF membership. Members will receive a SurveyMonkey link via email to vote between March 15 – March 31. Please add these important dates to your calendar.

For the 2024 grants cycle, the Grants Committee welcomes new volunteers! You will evaluate grant applications in a team environment, develop relationships with nonprofit partners through site visits, and learn more about our community from a nonprofit perspective.
Grants Committee members should plan on working on the grant evaluation and award process from February through March. Typically they do not need to be present in person to be an effective and contributing ART member. Please feel free to contact co-chairs, Linda Segre ( and Sarah Lurie ( if you are interested in volunteering in any capacity on the Grants Committee.

Grants New Process/Deadlines

The Grants Committee encourages all members to familiarize themselves with our new 2023 Grants processes and deadlines.

Jan 15 – 29 (completed)
Grants Application window open for nonprofits to submit a grant application

Feb 6 – March 3 (in process)
Grants team members evaluate grants, go on site visits and prepare presentations

March 9, 1-5 pm (upcoming)
Grants team to meet and deliver presentations to determine which applicants will move forward for member voting

March 15, 1- 5 pm (upcoming)
All members are strongly encouraged to attend this Zoom meeting to gain information to help inform their vote. This vote is the heart of what we do as an organization and we hope everyone will take the opportunity to exercise their voting privileges.

March 15 – March 31 (upcoming)
Voting window! Members will be emailed information on the applicants and the Survey Monkey ballot. Please be sure to vote before midnight on March 31! Keep an eye on your March 15 inbox for detailed information.

WRELC Needs Assessment Report

Wood River Early Learning Collaborative Needs Assessment Report and Program Recording are Now Available!

For those who missed the February 6th zoom meeting and update on the Wood River Early Learning Collaborative (WRELC), you may now watch the recording featuring leaders of the project’s implementation here. Our 2022 Focus Grant grantee, Idaho Association for Education of Young Children (IAEYC), Project Director Kathryn Ivers, and three members of Collaborative summarized progress on the grant to date. Remarkably, both initial phases of the grant have been completed in just three months: 1) convening of the collaborative’s Advisory council, and 2) completion and publication of the Needs Assessment Report.

Kathryn Ivers moderated the discussion with Jim Foudy, Blaine County School District Superintendent, Laura Rose-Lewis, I Have A Dream Foundation Executive Director, Janet Salvoni, Community School Elementary School Head and Martin Balben, IAEYC Early Learning Project Director. These experts reported and commented on the principal findings of the Needs Assessment regarding the state of childcare and early learning opportunities for young children in Blaine County. While there are stark discrepancies between families’ needs and available, affordable opportunities for their young children, the Collaborative now has data with which to create a strategic plan and begin the process of building programs and opportunities for the future.

The executive summary and full report is available here. A link to the recorded zoom session is here. Please help us by sharing widely both the recording and the report in the community so we can all be knowledgeable advocates for closing the education gap through investing in a strong early learning community.

Read more about WRELC and the Needs Assessment here.

Five takeaways from the WRELC Needs Assessment

Blaine County needs more affordable early-childhood care options, especially outside of the normal 8-to-5 hours, according to the recently completed needs assessment by the Wood River Early Learning Collaborative.

The collaborative—seeded by the Wood River Women’s Foundation’s $100,000 focus grant to the Idaho AEYC last summer—is a partnership between the Idaho Association for Education of Young Children and other key local stakeholders, like the Blaine County School District and YMCA.

This winter, from November 2022 through January 2023, the group collected demographic data and surveyed families, childcare providers, and businesses.

They looked at the consequences of limited childcare options here in the valley: workforce shortages, financial stress, and gaps in kindergarten readiness, to name a few.

“Three key takeaways were the affordability of childcare for most families and the lack of available seats. Also, of the care that is offered, after-hours care is rarely available,” Collaborative Project Director Kathryn Ivers said.

Here are five takeaways from the community needs assessment:

  1. Affordable childcare is in short supply and great demand: There is an incredible need for more childcare and preschool options, especially in the south valley. Altogether, the 13 daycare and early-learning providers surveyed cared for 300 kids and had a collective 90 kids on their waitlists. Yet, families are struggling to afford to send their kids to licensed daycares and preschools in the valley. Most families can’t pay more than $30 per day per child, or about $600 per month.
  2. The childcare provider business model is unsustainable: More than four out of five early-childhood care providers said they were interested in expanding their facilities, but are struggling financially. Most said they couldn’t lower their rates or extend their hours due to staffing shortages and high overhead costs. Of the daycare and pre-K providers surveyed, most said they can’t make a profit unless they charge at least $40 per child per day, or $800 to $1,440 per child per month. Only two said they charged $800 per month, and none offered a sliding scale.
  3. The Valley lacks childcare during untraditional hours: Even parents that can afford quality early-childhood care reported needing childcare beyond the standard weekday hours. More than a third of parents surveyed said they needed childcare before 8 am, after 5 p.m. or both on weekdays. The problem: very few daycares and preschools offer non-traditional hours. Only two providers said they offered off-hours care on weekdays, and none of the providers offered weekend hours.
  4. Inaccessibility of affordable childcare impedes workforce availability: Despite wanting to apply for jobs or return to work, qualified workers are staying home to care for their children—and employers, including childcare centers, are suffering as a result. Nearly seven out of ten parents said they would return to work outside the home if they could find affordable, high-quality childcare, and two out of ten parents said they would consider it. The good news is that most businesses surveyed—88%—agreed that quality, affordable early childhood education results in more focused and less stressed employees. Nearly one in five employers said they were willing to help their employees access childcare by providing financial assistance.
  5. Informal childcare can provide quality early learning experiences, but caregivers often lack support. Fewer than half of Blaine County’s children are in the care of licensed preschools or childcare centers (46%), and more than half are in informal care settings—in the care of grandparents and other relatives, babysitters or nannies. While this informal “family, friend and neighbor” care can be more accessible and culturally accommodating, it’s important that caregivers foster skills associated with kindergarten readiness. The current reality is that a third of kindergarteners in Blaine County lack foundational, grade-appropriate reading skills, putting them at a disadvantage compared to their peers. “If I could frame a perfect vision … five-year-olds entering kindergarten will walk in ready to be a part of the school community,” BCSD Superintendent Jim Foudy said.

The WRELC collaborative was formed with the help of WRWF’s first-ever Focus Grant to the Boise-based Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children.

Nearly 70% of surveyed stay-at-home parents would return to the workforce if they had affordable, quality childcare. 36% need care before 8 am and/or after 5 pm on weekdays; 12% need care options on weekends.

“There is little in the way of care options for families before 8 am and after 5 pm, even though many jobs in the valley do not fit the 9-to-5 schedule,” said Kathryn Ivers, the project lead for the Wood River Valley Collaborative.

“The needs assessment identifies opportunities to increase access,” said Louisa Moats, WRWF member. It will be used to formulate a strategic plan to increase access for Blaine County families.

Upcoming Events

By Jenni Riley:

The 4th Annual Community State of the Valley Forum sponsored by WRWF is coming up on Tuesday, 2/28/23 at the Community Library in Ketchum. This year’s theme is “Prioritizing infrastructure decisions in a time of growth.” Representing the areas that have seen the greatest impact by our growing community are speakers including:

  • Moderator – Mike McKenna, ED, Valley Chamber
  • Muffy Davis, County Commissioner
  • Brian Yeager, Hailey Public Works
  • Chief Ron Bateman, Wood River Fire & Rescue Chief

In this Forum, we will learn more about how decisions are made concerning roads, waste management, water supply, public safety and emergency services. We are grateful to the speakers for sharing their expertise to increase our awareness of the challenges we all face in the community.

We encourage you to ask questions to enliven the discussion and deepen the conversation in this Forum. Thank you for joining us!

Registration Link:

Streaming Link:

Aprés Ski Tea

Members Becky Lopez, Laura Midgley, Sandy McCullough, and Sara Lichtenberg at the 2022 Apres Ski Tea

Join us on the afternoon of Thursday, March 2nd for our annual “Apres Ski Tea” member appreciation event! This popular event will be hosted at the Gail Severn Gallery (400 1st Ave North, Ketchum) and appetizers and beverages will be available to enjoy from 4-6 pm.

We will be hearing from Mary Fauth, Executive Director, Blaine County Charitable Foundation – a 2022 grantee. All Members are welcome, and guests are encouraged!

Please rsvp to by February 28th.


  • Feb 28 – 4th Annual State of the Valley Forum @ The Community Library
  • Mar 2 – Après Ski Tea at the Gail Severn Gallery from 4-6 pm
  • Mar 15 – Grantee Presentations via Zoom 1-5 pm
  • Mar 15 – Mar 31 – Grants Voting Window open for all members

Event Recap

Grants ARTs Volunteer Training

Green Team & Pink Team at the Meet & Greet

Green Team & Pink Team at the Meet & Greet

Thank you to the WRWF Grants committee and all the generous Application Review Team (ARTs) volunteers! This amazing group of members gathered on January 18th for orientation into this year’s grants cycle followed by a meet-your-team social! It was wonderful to gather a group of returning and first-time ARTs volunteers to connect with the teams that they will be working with over the coming weeks to review the incoming 2023 applications. The ARTs teams showed enthusiasm to reunite with old friends and welcome in new volunteers by wearing their team colors!

Field Trip to Rotarun

WRWF Members enjoying hot chocolate at Rotarun Ski Hill

WRWF members gathered at the Hailey Rotarun ski area on a chilly January winter day to experience the Rota-Rippers program in action! This four-week learn-to-ski/snowboard program is run by Kaz Thea, who joined members at the Field Trip along with Rotarun Community Development Director Renee Shapiro.

A 2022 grant from WRWF for $6,500 to the Kid’s Mountain Fund organization helped to subsidize ski gear rental for the 2023 elementary and middle school participants.

It was an absolute blast watching the students navigate the POMA lift, obstacle course, and ski runs. We are thrilled to see that this well-loved program has proven to be a success once again!

Thank you to Sally Halstead for organizing an enriching grantee engagement experience with this FieldTrip.

The Eye on Sun Valley team joined us at the Field Trip and made an adorable video documenting the Rota-Rippers – watch it here

New Members

We are delighted to extend a warm WRWF welcome to new members who joined this month!

Shelly Boettger
Anne Nielsen

New WRWF members are invited to provide photos and a bit of information about themselves to share in the News Brief. We have so many interesting members and it is fun to read about everyone’s background. Thanks so much and we look forward to meeting you soon.

New Member Form

Max. file size: 50 MB.
Max. file size: 50 MB.

Call to Action – Blaine County Education Foundation is Hiring!

BCEF is excited to announce that it is hiring a new Executive Director (ED). BCEF is at an inflection point and they are recruiting an ED to lead the organization in meeting the needs of our diverse, growing and evolving community.

The ED will have overall responsibility for operations, programs, and fundraising, as well as one staff member. This role has significant potential for growth. The ED will engage the Board of Directors and community in strategic planning with a long-term vision of how the Foundation can best serve Blaine County. This position is full-time with a flexible schedule.

If you are interested in applying, or know of anyone who may be, please visit

Thank you, Sponsors.

We are grateful for our sponsors and extend a hearty WRWF thank you to Graybird Foundation, Little Caesars and Zions Bank!

Thank you, Contributors!

Thank you to this month’s News Brief contributors:
Alli Frank, Carol Hoffman, Emily Jones, Sara Lichtenberg, Sarah Lurie, Laura Midgley, Louisa Moats, Rebecca Ybarra Palma, Karissa Price Rico, Jenni Riley, Linda Segre, Sarah Shepard, Renee Spooner