Posts tagged network


News briefs on flood recovery


City partners with Foothills United Way to  jump-start clean-up efforts


The City of Boulder and Foothills United Way have developed a partnership to help repair flood-related damage to the city’s parks and open space areas. Today, the city began working with Foothills United Way, utilizing its established Volunteer Connection web portal to enroll and assign volunteers to city projects.


Individuals who are interested in assisting with city projects should visit and click on Volunteer Opportunities. From there, select City of Boulder Flood Recovery for a list of projects with the city or city departments. If you click on a project, you will be given more details and an opportunity to sign up online.


A few opportunities, starting as soon as this Saturday, are already listed and more will be added as the organization continues to prioritize work plan items and determine which projects are safe enough to invite public participation.


“We are so thankful for the outpouring we have seen from community members who are eager to volunteer,” said City Manager Jane Brautigam. “We hope this partnership with United Way will make it easy to find the opportunities that are most-suited to your interests, skills and schedule. We look forward to rebuilding together.”


Disaster Assistance Centers to reduce hours as help transitions back to city, county offices and network of non-profit partners


Boulder County’s Longmont and Boulder Disaster Assistance Centers (DACs) will reduce their open hours beginning Friday, Sept. 27, as all services being offered at the centers begin to transition back to city and county offices and community non-profit organizations.


On Friday, the Boulder DAC’s hours will shift to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., while the Longmont DAC’s hours will remain the same, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, both DACs will maintain a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. County and city staff will transition out of the centers at some point early next week. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel will remain at both locations for an undetermined period of time from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.


“These Disaster Assistance Centers have collectively served over 3,600 households in a week and a half,” said Garry Sanfacon, Boulder County Flood Recovery Manager. “Because of excellent collaboration between city, county, state and federal agencies and local non-profits and volunteers, we’ve provided crucial support to thousands of people hit hard by the flooding. As we transition out of the centers, we will continue to provide these services efficiently and effectively from our offices.”


The Disaster Assistance Centers have been serving those impacted by Boulder County’s severe flooding since Monday, Sept. 16 in Longmont, and Thursday, Sept. 19 in Boulder. At both locations, residents have received help with housing, food, transportation, clean-up, medical needs, and much more.


The DACs are located at Twin Peaks Mall in Longmont (1250 South Hover Road) and 5495 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder. More information is available at or


City’s Public Works Call Center to change hours starting Monday

Due to reduced call volume, the City of Boulder’s Public Works call center is amending its hours of operation beginning Monday, Sept. 30. The new hours will be 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Boulder residents and businesses may call 303-413-7100 to report new water, wastewater or stormwater issues within the city limits, including:


  • sewage backups or odors;
  • water main breaks, which may cause water to come up through the ground;
  • water service disruptions; and
  • missing manhole covers or storm drain concerns.


Parks and Recreation eager to serve the public; most city parks and facilities are open


Did you know that despite all the damage that occurred as the result of the recent flood, the majority of Boulder’s parks and recreation facilities are open and being actively used by our community?


Limited closures remain in effect due to hazards. These are:

  • Three city parks – Elks, Eben G. Fine and Elmer’s Two Mile;
  • Boulder Reservoir
  • Knollwood tennis court
  • Boulder Creek Path


All three recreation centers are buzzing with activity with the exception of two gym closures (at the South Boulder Recreation Center and the North Boulder Recreation Center) and the gymnastics facility. Boulder Reservoir is expected to re-open on Saturday, and the gymnastics facility is expected to re-open on Monday.


While the city is asking the public to honor the closures, Parks and Recreation staff members invite the community to enjoy all of the services and facilities that are available during this stressful time. The department is also working to make the necessary repairs to re-open closed areas as soon as possible. for the most up-to-date closure information.



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mt san trail

OSMP: More trails open by the day


City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) department opened trails on Mount Sanitas today; department will open many more trails in the days ahead


The City of Boulder is making headway in allowing visitors to return to its extensive network of trails by opening key trails on Mount Sanitas today. On Tuesday, OSMP opened:


  • The Mount Sanitas, Dakota Ridge, East Ridge and the Goat trails on Mount Sanitas. However, the Centennial trailhead parking area remains closed. Visitors to Sanitas trails must walk into the trail area.
  • Cottontail Trail in East sanitas2


All open trails are listed at and at Please check either of these websites for more updates.


Newly opened trails will be accessible from dawn to dusk, and visitors must remain on-trail because of safety risks. All other OSMP trails not listed at remain closed under an emergency order.


There are some potential safety risks on re-opened trails. These may include rocky and gullied terrain, as well as other potential hazards associated with a major flood event. OSMP stresses that the re-opened trails are substantially different from pre-flood conditions.



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Work begins on a county master plan for mountain trails network



Public hearings to begin April 18


Boulder County, Colo. – Local, state, and federal land-management agencies, to include the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Boulder County, City of Boulder, and City of Longmont are partnering to develop a long‐term, multi‐agency master plan for a network of access points and travel corridors for non‐motorized users in the foothills and mountains of Boulder County.Trail Building -2


What: Regional Mountain Trails Master Planning
When: Meetings will be held from mid-April to mid-May, the first meeting will be held on April 18, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Where: Eleven locations throughout the county, the first meeting will be held at the Boulder County Courthouse, 1325 Pearl Street, 3rd floor

The goal of the Regional Mountain Trails Master Plan is to connect communities and recreation areas in the mountains and foothills to regional trails in the plains. The plan will emphasize linking existing trails and trail systems.

“We are excited to collaborate with the community and our fellow land managers on this plan for trails that will direct our work as individual organizations toward a common goal for trails over the coming years,” said Justin Atherton-Wood, Resource Planner for Boulder County Parks and Open Space. “This plan will be drafted in a manner that is sensitive to the resources and values unique to this part of the region, and one that contributes to a more sustainable future for Boulder County.”

To help define the many unique opportunities and challenges of this effort, the partners are initiating a period of public outreach this spring to gather comments on the community’s needs, expectations, and concerns with the project.  It is anticipated that this initial phase will result in a set of principles and community values that will guide the remainder of this year-long planning process.

For more information about the project and upcoming meeting dates and locations visit the project Or contact Garry Sanfaçon, Public Outreach Coordinator, at 720-564-2642 or


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CU -Boulder to update 20-year-old groundbreaking STEM study with $4.3 million grant


Early next month, researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder will begin the painstaking process of interviewing hundreds of undergraduates in an effort to understand why the rates of students switching out of science, technology, engineering and math majors has remained troublingly high over the last couple of decades despite widespread efforts to address the problem.

The five-year, $4.3 million project, undertaken in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, replicates and expands on a study begun by a couple of CU-Boulder researchers two decades ago and published in 1997 as a book. “Talking About Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave the Sciences” has since become a seminal text in the field of STEM education.


“Part of the reason why we’re undertaking this study is that the rates of students switching out of STEM majors has remained so persistent,” said Anne-Barrie Hunter, co-director of Ethnography and Evaluation Research at CU-Boulder and principal investigator for the Colorado research team. “Here we are now, 20 years on, and the rates are still roughly the same. They’re very, very stubborn.”

The study, which is being funded by the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is the first to be run out of CU-Boulder’s new Center for STEM Learning.

When the original study began in the early 1990s, the high rates of students leaving STEM majors — between 40 and 60 percent, depending on the discipline — were known, but the reasons for the switching were just conjecture. Some thought that the students who switched didn’t have the necessary ability to succeed in tough science classes, while others blamed teaching assistants with difficult-to-understand accents or the lack of experience of teaching assistants in general.

CU-Boulder researchers Nancy Hewitt and Elaine Seymour set out to determine whether any of the speculation was true by asking those who should know: the students. The pair led a research team that interviewed more than 400 undergraduates, both “switchers” and “persisters.”

“Our evidence didn’t support what they thought,” said Seymour, who is also involved with the new study. “We were really surprised.” As it turned out, “switchers” and “persisters” were equally bright and teaching assistants were often a much-needed lifeline for struggling students. In fact, both sets of students faced the same set of challenges, the largest of which was the way science classes were taught.

“What we discovered was that an incoming interest in the sciences was dissipated over the course of the first two years by the way the courses were taught,” Seymour said. “The teaching in those days was predominantly stand-and-deliver lecturing.”

Since Seymour and Hewitt’s book was published, there has been a nationwide effort to improve the quality of undergraduate science education. “Change is going on all across the country,” Seymour said. “But it may not be sufficient to move the needle.”

For “Talking About Leaving Revisited,” the researchers will interview undergraduates at the seven institutions that hosted the original study to find out if the reasons for switching have changed. But the new study will also go further by interviewing course instructors, observing classroom teaching practices and analyzing the transcripts of students across institutions to look for patterns among switchers and persisters. When the study is concluded, the research team plans to publish another book.

Talking About Leaving Revisited is one of the inaugural grants affiliated with CU-Boulder’s Center for STEM Learning, which was officially formed in December. The center, which was organized over four years with the backing of a $1 million institutional transformation grant from the National Science Foundation, aims to provide an infrastructure that will support the more than 75 existing STEM education programs on campus and allow them to more easily collaborate.

“We will provide a network and support structure designed to catalyze and provide links among these people, ideas, tools and resources,” said physics Professor Noah Finkelstein, one of the people who helped lead the effort to create the new center.

The Center for STEM Learning, which will also strive to be a state, regional and national resource, has three main thrusts: to transform the way STEM classes are delivered, to support research into the best practices for STEM education, and to help recruit the brightest to become STEM teachers.

For more information on the study visit

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american gut

“American Gut” sequencing project involving CU raises $340,000 online


In hopes of better understanding nutrition and health, the University of Colorado Boulder is playing the leading science role in a “crowd funding” effort that has raised more than $340,000 for a project designed to sequence the gut bacteria of thousands of people around the world.

Known as the American Gut project, the effort raised the money through a crowdfunding effort online in which collective groups of people pool money to support various initiatives, said CU-Boulder Associate Professor Rob Knight of the BioFrontiers Institute. The $340,477 raised for the American Gut project is the largest amount of money ever raised through crowdfunding for a science project, said Knight, who is co-leading the effort with Jeff Leach, founder of the Human Food Project.

The money contributed by 2,005 funders will be used to sequence gut bacteria from about 3,500 people said Knight. Each human is believed to harbor roughly 10 trillion microorganisms — about 10 times more than the number of cells in the human body — that undertake a number of important functions ranging from digesting food to the strengthening of immune systems.


In 2009, a consortium of 200 researchers from 80 institutions organized by the National Institutes of Health, including Knight, mapped the normal microbial makeup of healthy humans as part of the $173 million Human Microbiome Project. Building on the massive NIH effort, the American Gut project will be an “open source” effort, meaning participants will have access to the data gathered to help understand how diet and lifestyle may contribute to human health through the interaction of our microbiomes, cells and genes, said Knight.

“The outpouring of public support for this research project demonstrates how public awareness of the role of our microbial systems in human health is growing,” said Knight, the project’s scientific lead who holds joint faculty appointments in CU-Boulder’s chemistry and biochemistry department and computer science department. “By looking at samples from the general public, we can get a far better sense of what a ‘normal’ microbiome is and what factors have the largest effects.”

The scientists are particularly interested in how diet and lifestyle, whether by choice or necessity, affect peoples’ microbial makeup, including those suffering from particular autoimmune diseases or who have food allergies, said Knight, also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist.

“The large number of participants in American Gut, coupled with our ongoing work in Africa and South America, will allow us to explore the impact of diet and lifestyle between western and more traditional societies,” said Leach. “We may find that our modern gut microbiome has shifted significantly away from our ancestral one, but reinstating some of that primal balance may be within our grasp.”

“I’m super excited about helping to build a system that not only integrates so much data but also presents it to the user in a useful way,” said Meg Pirrung, a graduate student in Knight’s lab. “This is an amazing opportunity for me and everyone involved.”

Daniel McDonald, a graduate student in the BioFrontiers Institute’s IQ Biology Program, said the American Gut project is allowing him to hone his interdisciplinary experience. IQ Biology students are involved in semester-long rotations that immerse them in disciplines ranging from mathematical and computational biology to biophysics and bio-imaging. “It’s an extraordinary opportunity for discovery,” he said.

The American Gut data also will also be used in the several IQ Biology Program courses taught by Knight with Manuel Lladser, an associate professor in the applied mathematics department. Last year the IQ Biology program at CU’s BioFrontiers Institute, which offers doctorates in eight disciplines, was awarded a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship, or IGERT.

Second Genome, a biotech company headquartered in San Bruno, Calif., is working with the American Gut project to explore the connection between the human microbiome and type 2 diabetes, said company president and CEO Peter DiLaura.

“The American Gut project has succeeded in bringing together the largest citizen science network ever for human microbiome sample collection,” DiLaura said. “By building this extensive reference database, we now have the opportunity to explore the connections between the human microbiome and metabolic and inflammatory diseases.”

Although the first round of funding that enabled the project to commence has ended, a second phase also allows anyone in the world to join, said Leach. Once the scientific results are in from the initial group of participants, a third phase will allow new participants to obtain additional analyses crucial to understanding the microbiome.

“By integrating the tens of thousands of environmental samples that the scientific community has provided from around the world and applying powerful modeling approaches, we will be able to gain unprecedented insight into the links between our own microbes and those in our environment,” said Argonne National Laboratories microbial ecologist Jack Gilbert, a member of the Earth Microbiome Steering Committee.

“With advances in DNA sequencing, we are moving towards a world in which no infectious disease goes undiagnosed, and in which we have full knowledge of the microbes that inhabit us and our surroundings,” said Knight. “By participating in this project, thousands of people are helping us to make this future a reality.”

For more information on the American Gut project go to For more information on the BioFrontiers Institute go to

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Boulder County budget released


Boulder County Commissioners adopt 2013 budget

The county’s mill levy and general operating budget to remain flat for 2013


Boulder County, Colo. – The Boulder County Commissioners have adopted a budget of $319.6 million for 2013, down from $321.7 million in 2012.


The 2013 budget represents a nearly flat comparison to the one adopted in 2012, based largely on the fact that the county is in its second year of a biannual property reappraisal cycle. With property values assessed only every other year, the second year in the cycle rarely reflects much of a change in the property tax portion of the county’s projected revenue stream.


The real difference in the budget this year is reflected through a reduction in carryover funds from the year prior and the annual adjustment of revenues in funds other than the General Fund (such as the Road & Bridge Fund and Capital Expenditure Fund) which fluctuate year-to-year based on their designated purpose and funding sources.



In keeping with a flat budget, the County Commissioners have worked hard to bring expenses in line with revenues for 2013, all the while continuing to support programs popular with county residents.


As in past years, the careful and deliberate process of evaluating program requests by elected offices and departments in a public forum has led to sound fiscal decisions that allow the county to function at a high level and continue to provide excellent service to county residents with essentially no increase to the General Fund.


“The 2013 budget is a culmination of more than six months of productive discussion and input from our non-profit leaders, elected officials and department heads who work closely every day with members of the public to figure out how best to meet the needs our community,” said Cindy Domenico, Chair of the Board of County Commissioners. “We are pleased to adopt this fully balanced budget which serves as a guiding document for carrying out the values of our residents.”


Commissioner Deb Gardner said she was pleased to adopt a budget that “balances the long and short term needs of the county and works within a sustainable context to make sure that the county will stay on track for years to come in responding to the priorities set forth by the residents of Boulder County.”


Commissioner Will Toor remarked on the complexity of the county budget and praised the efforts of county leaders and staff for continuing to implement and expand on highly-desired programs for residents, even within a fiscally-constrained framework.


“Whether we look at the strong support for our non-profit community and our human services safety net programs, or the extension of the popular EnergySmart program,” which faces an end to its federal grant in mid-2013, “or the continued improvement of our county’s transportation network, including all modes of transportation, we’re very pleased with the ability to support incremental expansions of these programs despite the fiscal constraints we’re under,” said Toor.


The County Commissioners thanked staff and everyone from the public who participated in the budget process, acknowledging that the collaborative effort in creating next year’s budget made for a much better document through their efforts.


Commissioners certify mill levy

The Commissioners also today certified a mill levy of 24.645 mills, the same as the last two years, which is projected to generate property tax revenues of $134,612,456 in 2013 (up only slightly from $134,408,021 in 2012). The county’s mill levy amount represents roughly 29 percent of a property owner’s total average property tax bill within Boulder County. Other taxing entities that receive property tax revenues include (from 2012 data): school districts (53%), cities and towns (11%), and “other” fire, water and special districts (7%). 

For a copy of the funding package for 2013, visit:

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CU image

CU scientist receives L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science award


Deborah Jin, an adjoint professor of physics at the University of Colorado Boulder and a fellow of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, has been awarded the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science award.

Jin also is a fellow of JILA, a joint institute of CU-Boulder and NIST located on the CU campus. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate students and was one of five recipients who each will receive $100,000 at an awards ceremony in Paris next March. She was the only recipient in North America.

Jin was cited by the awards jury “for having been the first to cool down molecules so much that she can observe chemical reactions in slow motion, which may help further understanding of molecular processes which are important for medicine or new energy sources.” The long-sought milestone was achieved at JILA in 2008.

CU-Boulder Adjoint Professor of Physics

The 15th Women in Science laureates were honored for demonstrating exceptionally original approaches to fundamental research in the physical sciences. The awards jury was chaired by Ahmed Zewail, winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in chemistry and a professor of chemistry and physics at the California Institute of Technology.

The other 2013 laureates are:

• Professor Francisca Nneka Okeke, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (Nigeria) for her significant contributions to the understanding of daily variations of the ion currents in the upper atmosphere which may further our understanding of climate change.

• Professor Pratibha Gai, University of York (United Kingdom) for ingeniously modifying her electron microscope so that she was able to observe chemical reactions occurring at surface atoms of catalysts which will help scientists in their development of new medicines or new energy sources.

• Professor Reiko Kuroda, Tokyo University of Science (Japan)  for discovering the functional importance of the difference between left-handed and right-handed molecules which has wide applications including research on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

• Professor Marcia Barbosa, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre (Brazil) For discovering one of the peculiarities of water which may lead to better understanding of how earthquakes occur and how proteins fold which is important for the treatment of diseases.

“These five outstanding women scientists have given the world a better understanding of how nature works,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. “Their pioneering research and discoveries have changed the way we think in various areas of the physical sciences and opened new frontiers in science and technology. Such key developments have the potential to transform our society.  Their work, their dedication, serves as an inspiration to us all.”

Jin has been an adjoint professor of physics at CU-Boulder since 1997. She earned her bachelor’s degree in physics from Princeton University and a doctorate from the University of Chicago.

Jin was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 and was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.

She is the winner of numerous other awards, including the William Proctor Prize for Scientific Achievement in 2009, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics in 2008, the I.I Rabi Prize of the American Physical Society in 2005, a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship also known as the “genius grant” in 2003 and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2000.

Established in 1998, the L’Oréal-UNESCO partnership is a long-term commitment to recognizing women in science and supporting scientific vocations. For Women in Science has grown into a global program that includes international, national and regional fellowships and an international network of more than 1,300 women in 106 countries.

For more information on the Women in Science Awards visit



CU Boulder sends high school students experiments into space


Space experiments dreamed up by three teenage winners of an international contest that will be streamed live on YouTube from the International Space Station Sept. 13 were made flight-ready by a University of Colorado Boulder space center.

The two winning experiments — one of which tests the ability of spiders to learn how to catch prey in the low-gravity of space, and the other which investigates how nutrients and compounds affect virulent bacteria growth in space — were announced in March. The contest is sponsored by YouTube, Lenova and Space Adventures with the involvement of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency.

“We took the ideas of the two winning experiments and transformed them into actual experiments that could be conducted in space,” said Stefanie Countryman, the business manager and outreach coordinator for BioServe Space Technologies, a NASA-sponsored center located in CU-Boulder’s aerospace engineering sciences department.  The CU team also manifested the payload on an unmanned Japanese HTV rocket, conducted safety verifications and trained the astronaut flight crew on using BioServe hardware aboard the International Space Station, or ISS, for the project.

The global initiative sponsoring the contest is a new program known as YouTube Space Lab.  YouTube Space Lab is one component of YouTube for Schools, a program that allows educators to access YouTube’s broad library of educational content from inside their school network. The contest generated more than 2,000 entries.

The student winners are Amr Mohamed, 18, of Alexandria, Egypt, who developed the idea for the spider experiment, and Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma, both 16, of Troy, Mich., who created the idea for the bacteria study. BioServe completed all of the mission integration and operations work for the two experiments and hand-delivered the loaded space flight hardware to the Tanegashima National Space Flight Center in Japan for launch to ISS on July 21.


The live, 45-minute YouTube Space Lab program stream from ISS, slated for 8:30 a.m. MDT on Sept. 13 will be hosted by Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and will include Mohamed, Chen and Ma.  The winning experiments — selected by a panel that included British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, two NASA administrators, European Space Agency and Japanese Space Agency astronauts and Cirque de Soleil founder Guy Laliberte — will be performed by NASA astronaut Sunita Williams.

Countryman, who also will be part of the YouTube Space Lab live stream as she describes the role of BioServe in the project to Nye, said she was surprised by the sophistication of some of the experiments entered in the contest. “Seeing the level of intellect, not only from the top two winners but from six regional winners, makes us feel confident in the next generation of scientists and engineers,” she said.

Countryman said BioServe worked closely with Paula Cushing at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and MaryAnn Hamilton of the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, Colo., to obtain the jumping spiders and analyze their behavior.  BioServe designed, developed and built the flight habitat for the spiders.  Once aboard ISS, the habitat will be placed inside a BioServe-built device known as a Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus, or CGBA.

In addition, BioServe worked with AgraQuest in Davis, Calif., a company that manufactures and sells the bacteria strain B. subtilis, which will be used in the experiment by Chen and Ma. BioServe researchers worked with the students to design the experiment, which included 48 fluid processing devices carried in six Group Activation Packs built by BioServe and which have flown on dozens of space missions.

BioServe also developed an HD camera system to record high-resolution still images and HD video of the spider habitat, which included both the arachnids and their food, fruit flies, Countryman said. One of BioServe’s CGBA devices on board ISS is providing power for the lighting system of the spider habitat and thermal control for both experiments, said Countryman.

As part of the contest, 14- to 18-year-olds, either alone or in groups of up to three, submitted videos describing their experiments to YouTube. All experiments submitted to the contest had to involve either biology or physics. People tuned into the YouTube Space Lab event can vote for their favorite experiments, Countryman said.

“For decades, one of our major thrusts at CU-Boulder’s BioServe Space Technologies has been to provide educational opportunities for hundreds of thousands of K-12 students around the world,” said Countryman.  “This has been another opportunity for us to work with students on space payloads, a unique project that we hope will help steer many students from around the world into careers in the sciences.”

BioServe is a nonprofit, NASA-funded center founded in 1987 at CU-Boulder to develop new or improved products through space life science research in partnership with industry, academia and government, said BioServe Director Louis Stodieck.  Since 1991 BioServe has flown payloads on 40 NASA space shuttle microgravity missions and additional payloads on several Russian and Japanese space vehicles.

YouTube, a video-sharing website, is a subsidiary of Google. Lenovo, a global company headquartered in Morrisville, N.C., is the world’s third-largest PC maker. Space Adventures, headquartered in Vienna, Va., provides flights for private citizens into space, including trips to the ISS.

To watch the winning experiments being performed on ISS go to  For more information on BioServe visit


Boulder County reintegrating administration of CCAP


Co-locating Child Care Assistance Program with county’s other human services will boost efficiency, access


Boulder County, Colo. - As need continues to increase in the community for help with child care costs, Boulder County is moving to reintegrate administration of a key program that provides that assistance.


The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) is a statewide resource for families who need help covering the costs of child care as they’re working, seeking a job, or pursuing an education.


In Boulder County, CCAP has been administered by a third-party private vendor, Aspen Family Services. County leaders recognized an opportunity for streamlining the CCAP enrollment process by integrating it with other self-sufficiency-supporting services that the county oversees.


“Child care assistance is an extremely important support for parents who are struggling to find and keep jobs,” said Christina Ostrom, Family and Resident Support Services Division Manager for the Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services (BCDHHS). “We know that quality child care along with strong work supports, access to healthcare and food assistance, and stabilizing financial benefits is a combination that leads to self-sufficiency.”


Since 2008, BCDHHS has seen a 150 percent increase in need for Food Assistance (formerly known as “food stamps”), and a 63 percent increase in need for Medicaid services. During this time, the county has continued to work to more efficiently meet this increase in need and to ensure clients understand the full range of services available to them.


BCDHHS staff have access to state and county eligibility systems and databases, which means the transition of CCAP into the department will reduce wait times for clients after they submit applications for the program. County staff will also be able to quickly connect clients with other services they may need in addition to child care assistance.


“This is an exciting time for the county,” said Boulder County Commissioner Cindy Domenico. “We have an opportunity to bring vital services together to strengthen and widen our safety net, and this will help countless families get the comprehensive help they need now.”


CCAP covers much of the cost of child care for qualifying families through a network of providers across the county. In order to reach more families with this assistance, Boulder County recently returned eligibility guidelines for the program to 2009 levels to include families with incomes up to 225 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (for example, $3,474 gross monthly income for a family of three). A portion of the CCAP program in Boulder County, including this expansion, is funded by Ballot Initiative 1A, a temporary property tax increase passed by voters in 2010 to backfill human services budget cuts. In addition to expanding eligibility, this funding has allowed the county to further support quality child care options in the community.  


Ongoing operating expenses for in-house CCAP administration will be cost neutral for the county. BCDHHS will reintegrate administration of CCAP in Boulder County during the first quarter of 2013. A series of meetings will be held in August to share information with county partners on the transition.




Boulder County assistance program featured on Dateline NBC



Boulder County’s human services programs highlighted nationally


County’s focus on early intervention and prevention helping increasing numbers of people


Boulder County, Colo. – Boulder County’s front-end approach to providing human services will be in the national spotlight this weekend. On Sunday, June 24, Dateline NBC will feature a documentary on three families who have received services through the county and its collaboration with community providers.


According to the network’s description, the one-hour special, “America Now: Lost in Suburbia,” focuses on formerly middle class families confronting poverty for the first time. Dateline producers and camera crews have been in Boulder County since late 2011 conducting interviews and gathering footage for the documentary. Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services (DHHS) Director Frank Alexander spoke with Dateline NBC anchor Lester Holt for the program, and numerous interviews were also conducted with DHHS staff and representatives from community non-profit partner organizations.


The program will air this Sunday at 7 p.m. Mountain time on NBC.


Since 2008, Boulder County has seen a 150 percent increase in need for Food Assistance and a 63 percent increase in need for Medicaid services. Some of this increase is a result of people applying for human services assistance for the first time in their lives. Alexander notes that in recent years, in part to address this rising need, Boulder County has shifted to a front-end, early intervention and prevention approach to providing human services. “This involves helping clients identify their full range of needs as soon as they come to us,” he said. “For example, if we can help someone avoid foreclosure by getting him into housing counseling, we save him and the community nearly $75,000.”


Boulder County’s foreclosure rate has fallen 58 percent since it peaked in 2009, the same year the number of clients in DHHS’ foreclosure counseling program hit its high point. “Many clients who come to us for Food Assistance quickly find out that they also need housing counseling and are eligible for financial assistance with childcare,” Alexander said. “By investing more in this early identification of needs, we are saving money and helping people avoid deeper crisis.”


Ballot Initiative 1A, also known as the Temporary Human Services Safety Net (TSN), is helping generate funding for these crucial services. The TSN, passed by voters in November 2010, was designed to back-fill budget cuts to Boulder County’s human services programs. The county has seen a 20 percent cut to its human services funding at the state and federal level during a time when need has risen dramatically.


“Our front-end approach to human services is strengthening our safety net,” said Boulder County Commissioner Cindy Domenico. “Thanks in big part to the taxpayers and our community partners, as more of our neighbors find themselves needing help we’re building a system that is there to meet them earlier and more efficiently.”


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