GripTape Partners with the San Luis Valley to Support Youth Driving Their Learning

Colorado’s San Luis Valley (SLV), at 7,500 feet in elevation, covers over 8,000 square miles and has a population of 46,000 people. The Valley is comprised of six counties, three of which make up the top four poorest counties in Colorado. Much of the population has to commute 30–50 miles each way to shop for groceries and an equal or greater distance to visit a hospital or clinic.

With the impact of generational poverty, lack of access to resources, and isolation from communities with greater opportunities, SLV youth struggle to reach their full potential.

A map of Colorado’s 64 counties with the 6 counties that make up the San Luis Valley highlighted.

With GripTape’s support, 21 SLV youth are embarking on journeys to pursue their learning passions, deepen skills, and propel themselves on their paths to success. The range of topics is inspiring, with youth exploring interests such as Japanese language and guitar technique, welding, closed-circuit electrical systems, vehicle design and fabrication, music recording and mastering, and Emotional Support Animal training and certification, to name a few!

Challenger Delaney Armstrong, a high school valedictorian, is creating a recording studio for her GripTape Learning Challenge.

“The idea that the American Education System isn’t proactively inspiring students to pursue specific ideas they’re interested in turns learning into a job and a chore. GripTape allows the learning process to be chosen by each individual. I loved that about GripTape. I also love the idea that there doesn’t necessarily need to be a specific outcome. Each individual is allowed to delve into what they want and may not take a conventional finished product out of the learning process.”

Cole Sanders is an Alamosa, CO youth working to invent a soldering tool that will both hold and heat the solder.

“I think that the experience will teach me more about real-world projects versus school ones and in so doing, set me up to become a better adult.”

Joel Maestas lives in Sanford, CO and has set out to become proficient in Japanese and to master a Japanese song on his guitar.

“For my challenge, I’m learning guitar and improving my Japanese. I think the Challenge isn’t just about learning new things, but also learning how to manage your time to learn the essentials and how to utilize them. So far, my progress on the guitar has been improving slowly, but I’m still improving. As for Japanese, I have been working on it for over a year and being able to have the resources to improve it has helped me drastically.”

Cole Schweizer is designing and fabricating a drift trike. “I think this experience will be valuable because it will allow my confidence to grow by being able to complete a project by myself. In the future, the independence I learn from the Challenge will be crucial to have a successful life.”

About GripTape

Grip tape is an anti-slip adhesive used by skateboarders to anchor themselves to their board so they can take control of where they want to go and how they want to get there. GripTape, the organization, gives young people the traction they need to seize control of their own learning, choose their purposes, and achieve their full potential. GripTape is an initiative of the America Achieves accelerator. Learn more at GripTape.org.