The Steamboat Springs Education Fund (SSEF) is a nonprofit, independent corporation that administers the proceeds of the half-cent sales tax—five cents on a $10 purchase. The half-cent city sales tax was originally approved by Steamboat voters in 1993 to fund “public K-12 educational purposes.” The tax was extended by voter approval in three subsequent elections. In 2009, voters extended the tax and expanded the purpose to share a portion of the proceeds of the tax with other Routt County public schools. Since 1993, more than $57.5M has been granted directly for public K-12 education in Routt County. The Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board hopes to renew the half-cent sales tax by ballot initiative in 2018, becoming effective in 2019.
The Education Fund Board (EFB) administers the funds collected from the half-cent sales tax and exists to facilitate, govern and provide accountability for the allocation of the funds.
Grants are awarded to public schools and nonprofits in Routt County through a competitive grant process managed by the Education Fund Board’s Grants Commission (Commission) and approved by the EFB. There are three main categories of grants funded with SSEF funds: (1) School District Grants, (2) Community.Grants; and (3) Innovation Grants. Eligible school districts include Steamboat (RE-2), Hayden, South Routt and the Mountain Village Montessori Charter School, which is in the state-wide Charter Institute district. Any community organization that provides programming for public school students in grades K-12 may apply for a Community Grant. In the Spring 2017 granting cycle, the following community organizations were awarded funding: Integrated Community, Junior Achievement, Partners in Routt County, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Yampa Valley Autism Program, and Yampatika. Innovation Grants fund programs and initiatives designed to encourage critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and exposure to progressive learning tools and skills within the broad boundaries of current curriculum. Teachers are the usual applicants for Innovation Grants.