Planning for the Future: Goals-based Retirement Planning

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to hear that planning for retirement is more complicated today than it was a generation ago – especially as companies steer away from traditional pension plans toward 401Ks or other defined contribution plans. You now determine how much you will put aside for retirement, and how it will be invested.

Rather than focus solely on risk tolerance and performance measurement when managing your retirement assets, consider a goals-based wealth management plan approach, that takes into account all of your lifetime objectives. The primary focus may be on what you will need for a comfortable retirement, but the full scope adds in the other stages of life: starting a family, funding a child’s education, the hope of a second home or world travels, as well as being able to cover health issues that may not be apparent today. This type of wealth management plan doesn’t stop at IRAs and investments, but rather starts there and stakes out a pathway that adjusts with the curves, detours, and re-routes of life.

It’s important to remember that financial goals are personal and not “one size fits all.” Setting and realizing a solid plan starts with an individualized, in-depth analysis of each of your long and short-term goals. You then work with your financial advisor to map out how to meet those goals, based on your age, your assets, and market conditions.

Successful planning can be as simple as following a well-thought out investment roadmap during the stages of your life -- when you are building assets, when you are securing them against market fluctuations as your approach retirement and when you are living your retirement.

Jeff Nelligan is a Financial Advisor with the Global Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Denver.

It’s a Good Time to Review your Retirement Plan

By Anthony Paul

For those who have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, the beginning of the year is always a good time to look at the market and check in on your plan. I hear a lot of people say they do not consider themselves an investor; but if you put your money in a retirement account, then you are indeed an investor.

Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when it comes to your retirement plan:

·       The most important thing is to understand your plan. Figure out the features and benefits. What are your investment options? What are the risks associated with each of those funds and the associated fees? You’ll also want to max out your employer matching contributions. Believe it or not, most people do not take full advantage of this.

·       Be sure to start early and save more. Most people wait until the latter stages of life to plan for retirement. The earlier you start, the better you are going to be in the long run. There is no time like today. Even if you only contribute $50 or $75 a month.

·       Evaluate your current asset allocation. Then review your significant other or spouse’s retirement plan afterward. Do his or her investments complement yours and align with your overall financial plan? A lot can happen in a year, so it’s important to review your assets and make sure they are properly distributed. 

The investments you pick are going to be different depending on your age. If you are in your 30s and you still have three or four decades until retirement, you can be more aggressive. Do not let the short term market volatility scare you because you have a longer time horizon. If you are middle-aged, you’ll want to tone down your risk levels a bit by increasing your fixed income and cash allocation. For those nearing retirement, you’ll really want to reduce risk and look at more capital preservation.

A lot of people ask me how often they should review their retirement plan. I always recommend doing an initial check at the beginning of each year and then several times throughout. If you are nervous about the markets and any potential short term news, wait awhile until the next time you review. You do not want to affect your portfolio with short term news and volatility.

One last piece of advice, keep dollar cost averaging in mind. This means that you are putting money in every month; sometimes at high points, sometimes at average points, sometimes at low points. It does not guarantee you better returns but it will reduce that risk and volatility because you are buying at different prices through the history.

It’s important to look at your financial plan holistically. Considering reaching out to a financial expert who can help you figure out your goals, review your risk tolerance and create a plan right for you.

Anthony Paul is a Financial Advisor with the Global Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Denver. He can be reached at 303-925-9683 or Anthony.D.Paul@MS.com.

Metro Denver Economic Development Leader Tom Clark Announces Retirement

Tom Clark, Chief Executive Officer of Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation and Executive Vice President of Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, announced his retirement on January 11, 2017.

The economic development community, statewide and nationally, will greatly miss his leadership and dedication. Clark stands out as one of the Denver area's Magnificent Seven (later Crazy Eights), founding leaders in the regional approach to economic development that shaped growth since the 1980's. As he humbly stated when chosen as the Denver Post Business Person of the Year in 2012, "I haven’t done a single thing by myself. Everything I’ve accomplished has been part of a team effort.”

Best wishes to Tom in his retirement!

Tom Clark is always referred to as "The Economic Development Guru," and here, he takes on the role officially.

FirstBank CEO and President Announce Retirements After 17-Year Tenure

Business Wire
December 22, 2016

LAKEWOOD, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--FirstBank, Colorado’s second largest bank and one of the largest privately held banks in the nation, today announced CEO John Ikard and President Dave Baker are retiring after 17 years in their current leadership roles and 35 years of experience with the organization. Both Ikard and Baker will remain on FirstBank’s board of directors and contribute to the ongoing success of the organization.

The board elected Jim Reuter as CEO, Ron Tilton as President, and Emily Robinson as Chief Operating Officer (COO). All three have served on FirstBank’s executive leadership team. Their appointments will be effective Feb. 1, 2017.

“On behalf of the board I sincerely thank John and Dave for their valuable contributions throughout their careers with FirstBank,” said Larry Hauserman, Chairman of the Board. “Under their guidance, FirstBank will close 2016 with record growth and earnings. We are excited they’ll continue to provide direction and support the organization.”

“It has been an honor to lead FirstBank as CEO and be an active leader in the community, but there is a time and season for everything,” said John Ikard. “I am truly confident as Dave and I pass the reins to the new leadership team they will continue to build on the success FirstBank has experienced over the past 53 years.”

Prior to his promotion to CEO, Jim Reuter served as FirstBank’s COO and has been instrumental in many of the bank’s products and IT innovations over the years. He started with FirstBank in 1987.

“Jim’s experience adapting and guiding technology innovations for the bank, in a quickly evolving industry, makes him a natural choice for CEO,” added Hauserman. “We know with Jim at the helm, FirstBank will continue to be a successful organization that values its customers and communities.”

“I am honored to be named CEO of such a reputable and wonderful organization,” said Jim Reuter. “Dave and John have done a stellar job propelling FirstBank to be among the top performing banks in the nation. My goal is to continue steering FirstBank down that same path.”

As the newly appointed President, Ron Tilton will oversee business lending and development and continue to be actively involved in the greater Denver business community. Prior to this promotion, Tilton, who’s been with FirstBank for more than 30 years, was a Regional President for the Denver and Colorado Mountain markets.

Emily Robinson previously served as Regional President of the Northwest Denver and California markets. As the newly elected COO, Robinson will lead the retail operations for FirstBank. She started her career with FirstBank in 1993.

“FirstBank is an outstanding company with talented employees and these management changes will enable us to continue being a premier bank in Colorado,” said Dave Baker. “17 years is a long time to lead an organization and we’re ready to pass the baton to our colleagues, who’ve already made substantial impacts on FirstBank’s financial performance and community involvement efforts.”

As of Sept. 30, FirstBank reported total assets of $16.6 billion, an increase of 10.4 percent from the same time last year. FirstBank now ranks as the third largest privately held bank in the country and is recognized as the second most philanthropic company in the state.

About FirstBank

FirstBank operates more than 120 locations in Colorado, Arizona and California. FirstBank is the largest locally owned banking organization in Colorado, serving more than 700,000 customers. Since 2000, FirstBank has contributed more than $55 million and thousands of volunteer hours to charitable organizations. FirstBank is unique in that a majority of its stock is owned by management and employees. For more information, go to www.efirstbank.com.

View source version on businesswire.com: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20161222005096/en/

Moms Fight Back Releases Preliminary Report: State of the State 2016

Republished from Moms Fight Back

Moms Fight Back is a community of 40,000+ powerful and passionate Coloradoans who are coming together, online and in their own neighborhoods across the state, to work together on the most pressing issues facing our kids today. For nearly two years Moms Fight Back has worked at a grassroots level, mobilizing moms on the ground, and online, to discuss and work toward real solutions to issues like bullying, school safety, drug use, teen sexual assault and more.

In order to better communicate with the leadership of our beautiful state of Colorado, Moms Fight Back has polled Colorado moms on a number of issues and asked for their input and insight into what matters most.

Moms Fight Back is now releasing the report to the Governor of Colorado, leaders in the state legislature, the community-at-large as well as the media in the hope that the information will be taken for what it is – the beginning of a very important conversation with those who are truly the heart and soul of Colorado’s families – and who are the first line of defense when it comes to our kids.

Moms Fight Back, committed to maintaining a constant pulse on the most important issues facing Colorado’s families, will utilize the information gained through the survey in 2017 to focus on several vital issues that we know are keeping moms up at night – school safety, child abuse, teen substance abuse, and teen sexual assault. Moms Fight Back aims to address each critical issue in the context of how it impacts a child’s life at home and at school, as well as how these issues can and should be addressed through the legislative and judicial systems.

The report, presented by Moms Fight Back, and entitled The State of the State 2016: From Colorado’s Moms to Colorado’s Leaders CAN BE DOWNLOADED HERE. The report is available for download, distribution, and republication in part or whole, with copyright reserved to Moms Fight Back.

Business Roundtable President John Engler Announces Plans for Retirement

WASHINGTON – Business Roundtable President John Engler announced on Thursday, December 15 his plans to retire in mid-2017.

Engler, 68, said he was staying on through July 1, 2017, at the latest to ensure a successful transition to a new president and to lead Roundtable policy efforts in support of strengthening the economy and creating more good-paying jobs.

“The outlook in early 2017 to achieve passage of major components of the Business Roundtable economic growth agenda is very bright,” he said. “Tax reform, regulatory relief and immigration reform are all possible with the new Administration and Congress. I expect the pace to be brisk as everyone gets to work next year.”

A former three-term governor of Michigan, Engler assumed leadership of Business Roundtable in January 2011 after serving six years as President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.

He informed Roundtable Chairman Doug Oberhelman, Chairman & CEO of Caterpillar, and incoming Chairman Jamie Dimon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., of his plans earlier this week.

“Under John’s stellar leadership, Business Roundtable has enhanced its reputation as a credible voice for an economy that serves all Americans,” Oberhelman said. “He has focused on giving policymakers solid research and arguments, reaching across party lines and always keeping a deep belief that the United States is the world’s greatest land of opportunity.”

On January 1, 2017, Dimon will succeed Oberhelman – who is retiring from Caterpillar – as Chairman of the Roundtable, which represents 196 CEOs of America’s leading companies, crossing all sectors of the economy.

“John has earned an enormous amount of respect with the CEO members of Business Roundtable, within the D.C. political community and in the broader business arena for his sound judgment and depth of experience,” Dimon said. “He has also shown deep integrity and a fierce commitment to serving our country. I think of John Engler as a true patriot.”

Engler said the chairmanship transition provided an opportunity to solidify his existing plans for retirement. In addition, he said, family considerations were a factor. He and his wife, Michelle Engler, have triplet daughters who will graduate college this spring.

Engler said he was confident the Roundtable would continue to be a leading voice in Washington with Dimon as Chairman and his successor as President.

“I am proud to leave Business Roundtable financially strong, with a sterling reputation and focused on the priorities that our CEOs have established,” Engler said. “My successor will inherit an organization of talented and dedicated staff prepared to deliver on those priorities.”

Engler’s Business Roundtable biography is available online here.

Roundtable Discussion Invites Groundwork for Public Pension Reform

Health and Retirement is one of Colorado Business Roundtable’s nine Key Issues, and we recently hosted a Secure Futures Colorado discussion about the Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA). This event was held on October 25, 2016 at the training facility of our major sponsor CAP Logistics.

Chuck Reed, the former mayor of San Jose, California and a leading national expert on pension reform, was one of the speakers. He was joined by Ben Valore-Caplan, CEO of Syntrinsic Investment Counsel and former PERA Board member. Political analyst Eric Sondermann moderated the discussion and talked about Secure Futures Colorado.  

Attendees represented an array of public and private interests, from PERA and AARP to small business as well as former, current and prospective legislators and other political leaders. Sondermann opened the discussion by relating the significance of his mentor Governor Lamm’s concerns over Colorado’s current employee pension system. 

Valore-Caplan, a fifth-generation Coloradan, discussed how PERA impacts all corners of the state but will require a different kind of statewide response than we ever needed previously. He noted that the financial challenges faced by PERA are not because of its participants nor its Board but a fundamentally-flawed financial model. Those financial challenges are complex, but basically PERA’s 2015 financial report shows approximately $70 billion total liability with $27.9 unfunded for a total funding level only around 60%. 

Although a financial expert by profession, Valore-Caplan spoke deeply about the social implications of PERA reform, particularly in the way that one generation may seem pitted against another. Retirement reform on a policy level can quickly be felt on the personal level. While he said, “It would be inaccurate to say that PERA can fix” everything, open discussions like this one lay the groundwork for improvement in Colorado. 

Looking to other public entities who have succeeded in retirement reform, we were pleased to welcome Chuck Reed as a guest to Colorado. Reed serves on the Board of Directors of Retirement Security Initiative and provides special counsel at Hopkins & Carley law firm in California’s Silicon Valley. As the mayor of San Jose (the tenth-largest city in the country and third largest in California), Reed was a key figure in its 2012 pension reform which saves the city more than $40 million each year.

In this discussion, Reed related the background of San Jose’s predicament -- going from $73 million annual pension payments to $273 million in just one decade – and noted that while Colorado’s situation is not nearly as dire, its currently unfunded 40% begs the question, “How much pain will Coloradans endure?” before our plan is stabilized and reformed.

Reed admitted that there is a lot to be said for proper plan design, but that there are political issues. “The fundamental problem with a defined benefit plan,” said Reed, “is the incentive to over-promise and under-fund. But those issues can be fixed.”

Overheard during the discussion was this strong statement, “Holy cow, we’ve made incredible promises to these people.” For those unfamiliar with the system, PERA-eligible employees do not receive Social Security benefits, and they must be covered by PERA. There is no choice nor dual enrollment. The obligation has been made to 547,500 employees who work for 402 government agencies and public entities around the state.

Doug Krug, leadership expert at the Institute for Unlearning, asked the panel what they hoped the outcome of the day’s discussion might be. Indeed, many of the people “in the room” for PERA reform, literally and metaphorically, might not even be a direct recipient of its benefits. However, it is important to consider the investments our businesses have made in this state and the investments its employees have made by working for it. This conversation brought people together, and that was the desired outcome for the day.

Down the road, Reed advises, “You can’t let the fight put off the decision-making.” 

Colorado Business Roundtable President Jeff Wasden was glad to have PERA in the room for this roundtable discussion. He said, “We need to talk with – not at or about but with – PERA in order to work with it.” Wasden concluded that we can be pragmatic and leverage these lessons learned by other leaders in reform.

We would like to hear how this issue of Colorado public pension reform impacts your day-to-day or your bottom line, so leave us a comment below. And check out all the great photos, courtesy of ICOSA Media.

Secure Futures Colorado is a non-profit advocacy initiative to advance substantive reforms of Colorado’s public employee retirement system. The initiative is built around four principles -- ensure retirement security for public employees; add fiscal responsibility and solvency to the system; expand transparency; and support a system that fits the employment patterns for younger, future generations. Check out this Connect and Collaborate podcast with Secure Futures Colorado.

The Women’s Foundation of Colorado Announces Special Guest Misty Copeland, New Live-Interview Format for Annual Denver Luncheon

Copeland Broke Through Racial, Economic, and Body Image Barriers to Become American Ballet Theatre’s First African American Principal Dancer in Company’s 75-Year History

DENVER – The Women’s Foundation of Colorado (WFCO) announced on June 2, 2016 that Principal Ballerina Misty Copeland will be the special guest at its Annual Denver Luncheon on September 21, 2016. In 2015, Copeland made headlines and broke barriers when she became the first African American woman promoted to principal dancer for the renowned American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in the company’s 75-year history.

“Misty danced right through the racial, economic, and body image barriers that keep many women from pursuing their dreams and reaching their full potential,” said Lauren Y. Casteel, president and CEO of WFCO. “Despite messages that she did not fit the mold of a traditional ballerina, she persevered and has become a symbol of hope, possibility, and perseverance for women everywhere. We believe all girls and women have the right to feel hopeful about their futures and there’s no one better than Misty to look to for inspiration.”
Recent highlights from Misty Copeland’s career include:

  • Soaring to new heights as the first African American female principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre
  • Debuting on Broadway as Ivy Smith/Miss Turnstiles in the critically acclaimed show, On The Town
  • Starring in the PBS documentary "A Ballerina's Tale" on her historic rise to principal dancer
  • Making the TIME 100 list and being named a Glamour Women of the Year honoree
  • Inspiring a new Barbie doll in the “Sheroes” collection that honors female heroes who break boundaries
  • Becoming the face of Under Armour’s women’s collection

WFCO’s Annual Denver Luncheon has become a community showcase of icons, ideas, and stories, and draws nearly 2,000 supporters to build a movement for Colorado women and girls to reach economic self-sufficiency. The event has featured keynote speakers, including journalists Soledad O’Brien and Lisa Ling; actresses America Ferrera and Geena Davis; and tennis great Martina Navratilova; however, the 2016 luncheon will feature a live interview with Copeland.

Buying a luncheon ticket, table, or sponsorship supports WFCO's ongoing granting, research, public policy, and valued community partners. Working together with its partners, WFCO is creating systemic change for women and girls in Colorado through access to education, livable wages, pay equity, economic stability, high-quality child care and family planning, community leadership and philanthropy training, and training pathways for careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

About the 2016 Annual Denver Luncheon
Who: The Women’s Foundation of Colorado with special guest Misty Copeland

Luncheon Chairs: Colleen LaFontaine and Joanne Posner-Mayer

Honorary Chairs: Cile Chavez, Arlene and Barry Hirschfeld, Mary Jarvis, Carrie Morgridge, Natalie Lynn Rekstad, and Tina Walls

What: Fundraiser to support the economic self-sufficiency of Colorado women and girls

When: Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016 / 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Where: Colorado Convention Center, Mile High Ballroom

Attendance: 2,000+ guests expected

Tables and sponsorships from $2,500 can be purchased now at www.wfco.org. A limited number of individual tickets will go on sale soon at www.wfco.org.

Many thanks to our corporate partners: Lead Gift Sponsor DaVita Healthcare Partners; Platinum Sponsors MillerCoors, Western Union Foundation, and Xcel Energy; Gold Sponsors CBS4 and Comcast; and Silver Sponsors FirstBank, Noble Energy, and Women With a Cause.

About The Women’s Foundation of Colorado
WFCO is the only community foundation in Colorado focused on women and girls achieving economic self-sufficiency. Through collective philanthropy, we create opportunities and remove barriers by investing in research, advocating for systemic changes, partnering with nonprofits, and creating opportunities for donors to connect their philanthropy with positive community outcomes for women and girls.

In 2015, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado granted more than $1.2 million to dozens of agencies in communities across the state. Since 1987, WFCO has invested more than $14.2 million in Colorado communities.

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Media Contact
Lisa Christie
Phone: 303-285-2961
Cell: 917-609-0839
lisac@wfco.org

Senior$afe Program Recruits Professionals to Help Fight Financial Abuse of Colorado Elders

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) is offering a new training program that aims to educate investment advisers, broker-dealers, and financial institutions in Colorado on how to recognize the warning signs of financial exploitation of the senior population. 
 
Vulnerability to financial exploitation increases with age and Colorado’s senior population is growing: approximately 10,000 people a day in the United States. Many financial representatives have closer relationships with their clients and customers, and time is of the essence when fighting financial exploitation of seniors.
 
Enter Senior$afe. Senior$afe is a three-part program designed to educate financial representatives that are best positioned to identify red flags of abuse or exploitation early on and encourage reporting to state and federal agencies, including the Division of Securities at DORA and Adult Protective Services.
    
The training, which will be conducted statewide for financial firms and institutions, is a combined effort of DORA’s Securities, Banking, and Financial Services divisions. It involves recognizing and reporting the red flags of potential elder financial exploitation, such as sudden large withdrawals or uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money.
 
Senior$afe also emphasizes a “no wrong door approach,” so that no matter which agency the report goes to (a DORA financial division, Adult Protective Services, or a law enforcement agency), there is a commitment to make sure the report gets into the hands of the correct agency or community resource.
 
Senior$afe was originally created by the Maine Office of Securities, for use by banks and credit unions, in order to increase identification and reporting of suspected cases of elder financial exploitation. The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), of which the Division of Securities is a member, has collaborated with the Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention to introduce the Senior$afe program for use with other members of the financial services industry.
 
For more information regarding the Senior$afe initiative or to request a presentation at your firm or institution, contact DORA by calling Jillian Sarmo at (303) 894-2878 or via email at jillian.sarmo@state.co.us


You can also learn more about DORA with this recent podcast from Connect & Collaborate on May 31, 2016.  We talk with Rebecca Laurie from DORA, who introduces us to Patty Salazar, Financial Services Commissioner. We discuss her role and the role of the Division of Financial Services to protect consumers through regulation and supervision of state-chartered Credit Unions and Savings and Loan Associations as well as some of the financial activities of life care institutions.

We also discuss World Elder Abuse Awareness day on June 15 and share strategies for protecting elderly friends and family from financial predators. 

Listen to the podcast to learn more about services available and how the Division of Financial Services can assist you. 

Imagine Colorado Finalists Announced

10 teams to pitch their innovative ideas to make our kids healthier for $25,000 in prizes

 

DENVER - Tues., May 3, 2016 - The Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) and LiveWell Colorado today announced the ten finalists for the nation's first-ever statewide innovation challenge Imagine Colorado, setting the stage for the teams to compete at the Ideas Showcase finale event on May 17, 2016 for $25,000 in prizes. 

"We asked all Coloradans of all ages how they would connect Colorado's youth to a healthier lifestyle, and they answered with enthusiasm," said Governor John Hickenlooper. "We believe in the power of the collective wisdom of Coloradans to address tough challenges in our communities, and we look forward to seeing just how these incredible ideas to make our kids healthier can become reality."

Over 75 teams from 19 Colorado counties submitted videos on how to connect our state's youth to a healthier lifestyle. The ideas addressed issues such as Colorado's growing childhood obesity rate and food desert challenges, and included unique ways to encourage physical activity and provide all Coloradans access to our Rocky Mountains.

Imagine Colorado Finalists (includes link to video submissions):
Adult   Smart Fit Girls (Larimer County) 
Adult   Athmar Parkour (Arapahoe County) 
Adult   Colorado Real Food Days (Denver County) 
Adult   Pocket Playgrounds (Arapahoe County) 
Adult   Leap Adventurers (El Paso County) 
Youth   Project:GROW (Jefferson County) 
Youth   Running Minds (Denver County) 
Youth   Say ShFat That! to Sugar and Junk Food (Arapahoe County) 
Youth   Social Media Outdoor Youth App (Denver County) 
Youth   Junior Chef (Pitken County) 

The 10 finalists will pitch their ideas in front of a panel of local celebrity judges, including Colorado Chief Innovation Officer Erik Mitisek and Colorado Rapids Player Dillon Powers, at the Ideas Showcase finale event on May 17 from 4-8 p.m. at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. A live audience will vote to determine who will win the $25,000 in cash prizes, and Gov. John Hickenlooper will be in attendance to present the awards. All Coloradans are invited to attend this family-friendly event and can register at https://imaginecolorado.eventbrite.com.

Imagine Colorado is a first-of-its-kind statewide open innovation challenge. Used throughout the world by business, government and higher education institutions, innovation challenges shine a spotlight on a problem or opportunity and ask communities to provide ideas that can help build a better tomorrow. 

Finalists were chosen through an online community voting process, as well as through a panel of experts. In addition to the prize money, Unreasonable Institute will provide each of the five adult finalists the opportunity to interview for the 2016 Unreasonable Institute accelerator program focused on early childhood. Winning ideas will be distributed to statewide partners and the Colorado community so that appropriate champions can stimulate further action.

Imagine Colorado is presented by the COIN and LiveWell Colorado and is produced in partnership with The Colorado Health Foundation, Gary Community Investments, Unreasonable Institute, SkipsoLabs, Entravision and Comcast. It is also supported by more than 75 engagement partners from throughout the state. 

For more information, please visit www.imagineco.us.

About The Colorado Innovation Network (COIN)
COIN is a public-private partnership launched by Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2011 and is the leading global platform for innovative networks. COIN provides access to convene, connect and foster circles of exchange around ideas, talent, capital and the entrepreneurial spirit to strengthen economic development and diversity with the mission to make Colorado the most innovative state in the nation. COIN has a robust and highly engaged statewide network of innovation leaders in education, industry, startups, government and research. Visit Learn more at www.coloradoinnovationnetwork.com.

About LiveWell Colorado
LiveWell Colorado is a statewide organization committed to reducing obesity and other chronic health conditions by promoting healthy eating and active living. LiveWell reaches more than one million Coloradans through partnerships with communities, the private sector, local governments and school districts. In addition to educating and inspiring people to make healthy choices, LiveWell Colorado focuses on policy, environmental and lifestyle changes that remove barriers and increase access to healthy behaviors. LiveWell Colorado aims to provide every Coloradan with access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity in their communities and where they work. Learn more at www.livewellcolorado.org.

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Contact:
Office of Economic Development & International Trade
Holly Shrewsbury, 303-892-3847 holly.shrewsbury@state.co.us

Deadline Extended for Imagine Colorado Innovation Challenge

A message from the Imagine Colorado Team:

 We have extended the challenge out by two weeks with a new submission deadline of April 15.

We are pleased to let you know that our website is available in both English and Spanish. We also have a new video that is available here. With one month left in the challenge, we hope that you are able to share this updated information with your network. 

For more information, please visit www.imagineco.us.

 

"Imagine Colorado" asks Coloradans to submit their best ideas to make kids healthier in exchange for $25,000 in prizes
 

DENVER - Gov. John Hickenlooper, the Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) and LiveWell Colorado launched on February 1, 2016 Imagine Colorado, the nation's first-ever statewide open innovation challenge. Imagine Colorado is seeking bold ideas from Colorado residents in response to the challenge question: How would you connect Colorado's youth to a healthier lifestyle?

Used throughout the world by business, government and higher education institutions, innovation challenges shine a spotlight on a problem or opportunity and ask communities to provide ideas that can help build a better tomorrow. Imagine Colorado's aim is to engage all residents to come up with big ideas on how to ensure our kids have access to a healthy lifestyle. In exchange, $25,000 in prizes will be awarded to winning individuals and teams.

"We believe in the power of the collective wisdom of Coloradans to address tough challenges in our communities," said Hickenlooper. "We want to harness this energy and ingenuity through the Imagine Colorado platform. We know that solving tough problems requires collaboration, and we look forward to the innovative ideas that will be submitted that will help make our state the healthiest in the nation."

Challenge partner LiveWell Colorado is a statewide organization focused on increasing access to physical activity and affordable, healthy food for all Coloradans to prevent obesity and other chronic health conditions.

"Imagine Colorado is an exciting opportunity to tap into the state's entrepreneurial and technology sectors and the creativity of our residents toward making Colorado a healthier place for everyone," said LiveWell Colorado CEO Shepard Nevel. "We know that a person's health status is primarily determined by his or her social circumstances, environmental conditions and behavioral choices, so we can meaningfully increase the health of our state's youngest residents by improving opportunities to eat well and be more physically active."

From Feb. 1-April 15, 2016 [extension from original deadline of March 31 announced March 21], Coloradans, ages 7 and up, can submit their best ideas at www.imagineco.us. Ideas should focus on one of two categories:

Physical Activity: ideas that get our kids moving and that engage our outdoor spaces differently
Nutrition: ideas that provide our kids access to healthy foods and the education to make good choices


Finalists will be judged through an online community voting process as well as through a panel of experts. The top ten finalists will be invited to participate in a live event in April where they will pitch their idea to a panel of celebrity judges, and live audience polling will determine the grand prize winners. In addition to the prize money, Unreasonable Institute will provide each of the five adult finalists the opportunity to interview for the 2016 Unreasonable Institute accelerator program focused on early childhood. Winning ideas will be distributed to statewide partners and the Colorado community so that appropriate champions can stimulate further action.

Preparation for Imagine Colorado's public launch began several months ago at the 2015 COIN Summit, where key subject matter experts were invited to participate in two "think tank" sessions regarding a challenge question for Coloradans. The sessions were facilitated by Jenn Gustetic, Assistant Director for Open Innovation for The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and head of Challenge.gov. This challenge question was selected because while Colorado touted the "healthiest state," the reality is that one in four Colorado kids is overweight or obese, one in three lives in neighborhoods without a safe place to play and 90% don't get enough fruits and veggies each day. Additionally, Colorado is one of only four states where physical education is not a required part of the state's public school curriculum at any grade level. Better health is not just good for individuals and families; it has positive outcomes for our workforce, reducing costs of government and improving the quality of life in our communities.

"As a state, we need to ensure our innovation pipeline is overflowing with good ideas," said Sean Kuusinen, Program Manager of Unreasonable Institute. "We support entrepreneurs with the potential to address major problems at scale, and through Imagine Colorado we can engage all Coloradans in this process." 

Imagine Colorado is produced in partnership with The Colorado Health Foundation, Gary Community Investments, Unreasonable Institute, SkipsoLabs, Entravision and Comcast, and it is also supported by more than 30 engagement partners from throughout the state. For more information, please visit www.imagineco.us.

ABOUT The Colorado Innovation Network (COIN)
COIN is a public-private partnership launched by Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2011 and is the leading global platform for innovative networks. COIN provides access to convene, connect and foster circles of exchange around ideas, talent, capital and the entrepreneurial spirit to strengthen economic development and diversity with the mission to make Colorado the most innovative state in the nation. COIN has a robust and highly engaged statewide network of innovation leaders in education, industry, startups, government and research. Learn more at www.coloradoinnovationnetwork.com.

ABOUT LiveWell Colorado
LiveWell Colorado is a statewide organization committed to reducing obesity and other chronic health conditions by promoting healthy eating and active living. LiveWell reaches more than one million Coloradans through partnerships with communities, the private sector, local governments and school districts. In addition to educating and inspiring people to make healthy choices, LiveWell Colorado focuses on policy, environmental and lifestyle changes that remove barriers and increase access to healthy behaviors. LiveWell Colorado aims to provide every Coloradan with access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity in their communities and where they work. Learn more at www.livewellcolorado.org.

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www.imagineco.us

Creative "Healing Garden" Gives Hospitalized Children a New Way to Recuperate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:  Birgit Whitelaw                                                                                             
Cell Phone: 720-936-4830                                                                                             
Email:  birgit@connectwithart.net

CREATIVE “HEALING GARDEN” GIVES HOSPITALIZED CHILDREN A NEW WAY TO RECUPERATE

Athenahealth Employs Denver Art Firm to Create Imagination-Inspiring Play Areas for Dell Children’s Medical Center as Trend Toward Using Art for Health and Healing Grows  

Austin, TX.  – Kids at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin got an early Christmas present last year. But it wasn’t delivered by Santa. Instead, athenahealth partnered with Denver’s The Art Connection and New Angle Consulting and built colorful and interactive installations in the hospital’s Healing Garden. Stations with names such as Butterfly MigrationDrum Session, and Regatta were created right on hospital grounds for patients and their siblings to enjoy.  (Siblings are not allowed in the hospital to protect against infection.) Inside, young patients were given creativity kits and superhero capes lovingly made by athenahealth volunteers. Designed to inspire creative expression and peaceful meditation, these changes are just the latest example of the trend toward using art for health and healing.

“This is just wonderful. These installations are the most creative gift the hospital could have received", said Gail Gorman, the Volunteer Coordinator at Dell Children’s Medical Center.  "What an amazing, delightful addition to the Healing Garden.  And inside, our sad, dark patient transport hallways now have a bright and cheerful mural.”

Dell Children’s Medical Center is not the first to incorporate art to promote healing.  Boston Children’s Hospital introduced its Creative Arts Program in 2009 which utilizes the arts as a positive resource during hospital stays and incorporates music for therapeutic intervention.  According to their website, a recent evaluation of this program yielded positive findings: 75% of parents surveyed reported their child had reduced anxiety and 71% of patients surveyed reported less perceived pain.

These findings were no surprise to Birgit Whitelaw and Renata Dolz, two artists (and mothers) who founded The Art Connection in Denver, CO.  Igniting children’s creative expression was at the heart of their Healing Garden proposal.  “We first identified the elements we felt would inspire creativity and imagination in children – musical instruments, animals, water, butterflies,” Birgit recalls.  “Then we set out to develop the individual Healing Garden concepts.  New Angle Consulting and athenahealth were open to our ideas.”

Those ideas included the Butterfly Migration – a grassy area where 30 brightly painted steel butterflies appear to land and take flight; the Drum Session – a series of bongo-style drums in a variety of shapes and sounds; Regatta – colorful sailboats ready to sail down a little stream; and Birdhood – a showcase of beautifully decorated wooden birdhouses, each filled with information cards about a particular native Texas bird, ready for children to collect.

The installations were completed in just 5 hours by the hands of over 250 athenahealth volunteers on December 9, 2015. “It was quite a collaboration and coordinated effort,” says Renata Dolz, “but the smiles on those children’s faces said it all!” That afternoon, one five-year-old patient, recuperating from a major brain surgery, took one of the sail boats for its maiden voyage down the hospital’s little stream.

The Art Connection is a privately-held Denver, CO. firm specializing in creating team building events for their clients utilizing creative thinking and artful methods of engagement.  They approach corporate team building by connecting art to specific business goals or core values and then customizing a program focused on those goals. In many cases, the culmination of a project results in collaborative, one-of-a-kind masterpieces that grace the halls of the company’s offices. For information on how The Art Connection can help your business, please visit www.connectwithart.net, or email Birgit Whitelaw at birgit@connectwithart.net.


Click thumbnails below for a slideshow of the butterfly migration, drum session, patient transport hallway mural and Wally the Healing Dog.

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If you’d like more information on the Healing Garden, or to schedule an interview with Birgit Whitelaw and Renata Dolz, please feel free to call:  303-718-7657 or 720-936-4830; or email:birgit@connectwithart.net. 

CereScan Receives Colorado Advanced Industries Accelerator Grant

**COBRT was thrilled to have CereScan on our Connect and Collaborate radio show on February 3, 2016. Check out the podcast, CereScan Goes to the Super Bowl.** 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 18, 2016

CereScan was recently awarded a $250,000 grant from the State of Colorado, which will be used to further develop the capabilities of its patented CereMetrix™ Brain Diagnostic System. The grant will allow the company to commercialize CereMetrix™ for use by hospitals, clinics, physicians, and other healthcare practitioners as an advanced utility for diagnosis, treatment and research into most neurological disorders.

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CereMetrix is a unique brain diagnostic system and ever-expanding data warehouse that today includes 6,600 scan encounters including patients’ medical histories, family histories, symptoms, prior treatments, incoming diagnoses, outgoing diagnoses, and brain scans. Each scan is composed of over 262,000 data points that measure perfusion levels in up to 160 brain regions derived from comparisons to normative data.

The commercialization of CereMetrix™ is expected to create high-paying, professional job opportunities in the state and long-term economic gains as the system progresses through its development and eventual licensure to domestic and international users. CereMetrix™ will become a software-as-a-service system that will assist healthcare practitioners in the diagnosis of complex brain disorders.

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“We are excited to receive such a strong endorsement from the state of Colorado for the work we are doing and the vision we are pursuing,” said Dr. Rick Fort, Chief Science Officer at CereScan. “CereMetrix™ will become a clinical decision support system that doctors will be able to use in the diagnosis of their patients’ brain dysfunctions anytime, anywhere.”

The vision of CereMetrix™ is a machine learning ecosystem that provides doctors with the most likely diagnoses and treatment regimens for their patient’s brain health. Each new patient’s data will be compared to a library of patients with similar brain patterns, medical histories, and clinical symptoms.

CereScan, is the nation’s leader in providing statistically measured brain diagnostics based on a new generation of imaging software, PET/CT (Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography) and qSPECT (quantitative Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) neuroimaging technologies. Referring and treating medical experts can rely on CereScan to offer differentiated diagnoses on a wide array of brain-based disorders including: 

  •     Traumatic Brain Injury
  •     Toxic Brain Injury
  •     Alzheimer’s Disease
  •     Mild Cognitive Impairment
  •     Other Dementias
  •     Parkinson’s Disease
  •     Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  •     Bipolar Disorder
  •     ADD/ADHD
  •     Anxiety Disorder

About CereScan
CereScan combines state-of-the-art qSPECT and PET/CT brain imaging technologies with a patient centered model of care to provide the highest level of neurodiagnostics anywhere. Using quantitative functional brain imaging, advanced imaging software, and an extensive library of clinical data, the CereScan medical team provides physicians with unmatched objective diagnostic information. CereScan helps patients and their physicians better understand the neurological basis of their conditions. In a variety of legal settings, CereScan provides objective evidence to attorneys and their clients regarding traumatic and toxic brain injuries. For researchers, CereScan provides independent pre- and post-treatment measures of organic changes in the brain along with measures of symptoms related to the brain disorder of interest. For more information, please call (866) 722-4806 or visit http://www.CereScan.com. Connect with CereScan on Twitter @CereScan and on Facebook at Facebook.com/CereScan.

 

Help Your Employees Take the myRA 10-5-1 Retirement Savings Challenge During America Saves Week

Did you know that February 22-27 is America Saves Week? It’s a great opportunity for employees who haven’t found easy ways to save to get on the path to more secure retirements, and myRA® can help them take those first steps.

myRA is a simple, safe, and affordable retirement savings account from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. There’s no cost to open, no fees, and no complicated investment options. It’s easy for you as an employer, too. Employers do not administer myRA accounts, contribute to them, or match workers’ contributions.

You can help your employees start saving by encouraging them to take the myRA 10-5-1 Retirement Savings Challenge during America Saves Week. It’s simple:

  • 10 minutes: That’s how long it takes to open a myRA account online at myRA.gov. To make sure the sign-up process goes smoothly, each employee should have their social security number, driver’s license or other ID, and the name and birthdate of at least one beneficiary on hand.
  • $5 per paycheck: Employees deposit at least $5 per paycheck into the account. It’s a small amount, but it adds up. People can contribute to their myRA accounts via payroll deduction, or from their personal checking or savings accounts. They may wish to set up regular contributions to make saving automatic.
  • 1 step in the right direction: That’s it! By opening and funding myRA accounts, employees have taken the first step toward better financial futures, and their retirement savings accounts are ready to continue growing. Down the line, they can boost their savings by increasing the amounts they save from each paycheck or by making one-time contributions, like from their federal tax refunds.

Help your employees make commitments to their financial futures with myRA. Visit myRA.gov to learn more and to download free materials you can share. 

 

ColoradoCare Represents Real Threat to Physicians and Their Patients (op-ed)

By Andrew Graham
Chief Executive Officer, Clinic Service Corporation
agraham@clinicservice.com
 

ColoradoCare will have a negative impact on the Colorado Doctor community, and that effect could drastically influence the care Coloradans receive. Under the ballot initiative, a State-run Healthcare system would be implemented with fixed, payroll- based revenue provided by taxpayers, and will therefore require massive cost management oversight. As the bill directs, this cost management would be the target of the newly conceived 21 member, state insurance Board. 

The line item that would pop up high on the Board’s list is provider reimbursement -- paying the Doc for the services they provide. Given the lobby interests of hospitals, major health systems, healthcare finance professionals, and drug and medical device manufacturers, individual and independent doctors will be especially vulnerable for the chopping block. It is a safe bet that the board would need to slash the physician reimbursement rate to bring the budget in alignment -- leaving every physician powerless to negotiate given areas of specialty, training, experience, tenure and expertise.  Doctors already have little leverage with insurance payers. A state run system would halt any chance of fair negotiation.  Worse yet, innovative Doctors will find somewhere else to practice their craft.  

Physicians already feel the pinch as a result low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates, which can be 20 percent less than what private health insurance pays. In recent years, many practices have limited the number of Medicare/Medicaid patients they accept, or they opt-out of treating this population altogether making it increasingly difficult for patients to find a provider that is willing to treat them. If ColoradoCare passes, many physicians may be forced to leave the state in order to stay afloat financially.

Colorado is already faced with a physician shortage problem, with rural and mountain regions being hit the hardest. According to a study by the Colorado Health Institute, El Paso County has one of the worst physician shortages in the state requiring a 54 percent increase in primary care physicians to reach a desirable ratio of 1,900 patients to every full-time physician. In Clear Creek, Gilpin Park and Teller counties a 44% increase is required.  We are in a shortage, not a surplus.   If even 10 percent of Colorado’s physicians left the state, imagine the strain it would place on the physicians that decide to stay. And recruiting new physicians to the state would be next to impossible.

Physicians that decide to stay in Colorado may opt to delve into “concierge medicine” to stay profitable, which is when a patient pays an additional annual fee to a practice (in some cases, upwards of $10,000/yr) to have 24/7 access to physician care and other complementary services, such as chiropractors and dieticians. This has been a growing trend in Canada where it is often exceedingly difficult to get an appointment with a family physician. The irony is that Colorado’s effort to give everyone care would result in the wealthy getting their own special healthcare system and only those that could afford it, would be able to jump the line.

Coloradans can’t afford to be complacent about ColoradoCare. This is a debacle we can, and must, avoid.

Colorado Launches First-Ever Statewide Open Innovation Challenge

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Office of Gov. John Hickenlooper
Office of Economic Development & International Trade

Holly Shrewsbury, 303-892-3847
holly.shrewsbury@state.co.us

Colorado launches first-ever statewide open innovation challenge

"Imagine Colorado" asks Coloradans to submit their best ideas to make kids healthier in exchange for $25,000 in prizes

DENVER - Gov. John Hickenlooper, the Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) and LiveWell Colorado launched on February 1, 2016 Imagine Colorado, the nation's first-ever statewide open innovation challenge. Imagine Colorado is seeking bold ideas from Colorado residents in response to the challenge question: How would you connect Colorado's youth to a healthier lifestyle?

Used throughout the world by business, government and higher education institutions, innovation challenges shine a spotlight on a problem or opportunity and ask communities to provide ideas that can help build a better tomorrow. Imagine Colorado's aim is to engage all residents to come up with big ideas on how to ensure our kids have access to a healthy lifestyle. In exchange, $25,000 in prizes will be awarded to winning individuals and teams.

"We believe in the power of the collective wisdom of Coloradans to address tough challenges in our communities," said Hickenlooper. "We want to harness this energy and ingenuity through the Imagine Colorado platform. We know that solving tough problems requires collaboration, and we look forward to the innovative ideas that will be submitted that will help make our state the healthiest in the nation."

Challenge partner LiveWell Colorado is a statewide organization focused on increasing access to physical activity and affordable, healthy food for all Coloradans to prevent obesity and other chronic health conditions.

"Imagine Colorado is an exciting opportunity to tap into the state's entrepreneurial and technology sectors and the creativity of our residents toward making Colorado a healthier place for everyone," said LiveWell Colorado CEO Shepard Nevel. "We know that a person's health status is primarily determined by his or her social circumstances, environmental conditions and behavioral choices, so we can meaningfully increase the health of our state's youngest residents by improving opportunities to eat well and be more physically active."

From Feb. 1-March 31, 2016, Coloradans, ages 7 and up, can submit their best ideas at www.imagineco.us. Ideas should focus on one of two categories:

 

Physical Activity: ideas that get our kids moving and that engage our outdoor spaces differently
Nutrition: ideas that provide our kids access to healthy foods and the education to make good choices


Finalists will be judged through an online community voting process as well as through a panel of experts. The top ten finalists will be invited to participate in a live event in April where they will pitch their idea to a panel of celebrity judges, and live audience polling will determine the grand prize winners. In addition to the prize money, Unreasonable Institute will provide each of the five adult finalists the opportunity to interview for the 2016 Unreasonable Institute accelerator program focused on early childhood. Winning ideas will be distributed to statewide partners and the Colorado community so that appropriate champions can stimulate further action.

Preparation for Imagine Colorado's public launch began several months ago at the 2015 COIN Summit, where key subject matter experts were invited to participate in two "think tank" sessions regarding a challenge question for Coloradans. The sessions were facilitated by Jenn Gustetic, Assistant Director for Open Innovation for The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and head of Challenge.gov. This challenge question was selected because while Colorado touted the "healthiest state," the reality is that one in four Colorado kids is overweight or obese, one in three lives in neighborhoods without a safe place to play and 90% don't get enough fruits and veggies each day. Additionally, Colorado is one of only four states where physical education is not a required part of the state's public school curriculum at any grade level. Better health is not just good for individuals and families; it has positive outcomes for our workforce, reducing costs of government and improving the quality of life in our communities.

"As a state, we need to ensure our innovation pipeline is overflowing with good ideas," said Sean Kuusinen, Program Manager of Unreasonable Institute. "We support entrepreneurs with the potential to address major problems at scale, and through Imagine Colorado we can engage all Coloradans in this process." 

Imagine Colorado is produced in partnership with The Colorado Health Foundation, Gary Community Investments, Unreasonable Institute, SkipsoLabs, Entravision and Comcast, and it is also supported by more than 30 engagement partners from throughout the state. For more information, please visit www.imagineco.us.

ABOUT The Colorado Innovation Network (COIN)
COIN is a public-private partnership launched by Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2011 and is the leading global platform for innovative networks. COIN provides access to convene, connect and foster circles of exchange around ideas, talent, capital and the entrepreneurial spirit to strengthen economic development and diversity with the mission to make Colorado the most innovative state in the nation. COIN has a robust and highly engaged statewide network of innovation leaders in education, industry, startups, government and research. Learn more at www.coloradoinnovationnetwork.com.

ABOUT LiveWell Colorado
LiveWell Colorado is a statewide organization committed to reducing obesity and other chronic health conditions by promoting healthy eating and active living. LiveWell reaches more than one million Coloradans through partnerships with communities, the private sector, local governments and school districts. In addition to educating and inspiring people to make healthy choices, LiveWell Colorado focuses on policy, environmental and lifestyle changes that remove barriers and increase access to healthy behaviors. LiveWell Colorado aims to provide every Coloradan with access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity in their communities and where they work. Learn more at www.livewellcolorado.org.

 

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www.advancecolorado.com

 

Woman- and Veteran-Owned Colorado Business on "Shark Tank" Episode

For Immediate Release: 
January 28, 2016

Angela Cody-Rouget, AKA Major Mom, looks to franchise company through “Shark Tank” appearance

“SHARK TANK” SALUTES THE MILITARY WITH ALL VETERAN AND MILITARY SPOUSE ENTREPRENEURS ON THE FEBRUARY 5 EPISODE OF “SHARK TANK” 

Denver, CO -- Major Mom CEO, Angela Cody-Rouget, will appear on “Shark Tank” on February 5, 2016. Her pitch? Expand the business through franchising to serve the organization’s mission of restoring order to the world. Major Mom, a veteran-owned company, is building a national brand, ramping up operations in Phoenix, Tucson, Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs.

Since December 2006, Major Mom has employed “Liberators” throughout the United States. Currently, Major Mom employs 18 employees in Colorado, three employees in Arizona and has one franchisee in Reno, Nevada. The Major Mom team is comprised of professional organizers who are highly skilled and well-trained at de-cluttering and setting up customized, achievable and sustainable systems in various types of households. 

Major Mom is on a mission to raise up an army of liberators to restore order to the world, one household at a time. “Major Mom has a mission to be the most recognized and respected organizing firm nationally and internationally by creating rewarding careers and beautiful yet functional home and office environments for moms and their families,” stated Major Mom CEO, Angela Cody-Rouget.

The founder and CEO of Major Mom,® Angela Cody-Rouget walks her talk. She has two decades of training in order management. She served in the U.S. Air Force for 18 years (10 years active duty, four years in the reserves and 4+ years in AFROTC) and she embraces and thrives in orderly environments. 

Learn more about Major Mom at www.majormom.biz. TUNE IN ALERT: “Shark Tank,” FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5 (9:00--10:01 p.m. EST) on the ABC Television Network.  The Sharks in this episode are Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Daymond John, Lori Grenier and Robert Herjavec.
 

Media Contact: 
Kimbirly Orr
303-601-6931
kimbirly@kimbirlyorr.com


Food for Thought: The GrowHaus

The GrowHaus believes that healthy food is a right, not a privilege! The GrowHaus is a nonprofit indoor farm, market, and education center working to improve food access in NE Denver's most under served communities. www.thegrowhaus.org

Community toy drive at the 2015 Winter Festival at The GrowHaus
The holiday season can be extremely tough for many families in our community, which makes giving their kids holiday gifts sometimes impossible. We have nearly 600 children signed up to receive a gift through our toy drive, and we're asking for donations to ensure they all get a present. YOU can make a difference! Even small donations go a long way in making the holidays bright for a family! Click here to donate (write "toy drive" in the 'reason' field). Read more about the 2015 Winter Festival

ICOSA Media produced this video for The GrowHaus:

Food is one of the universal requirements for life. No matter who you are, you have to eat or you can not survive. Unquestionably the better food you eat, the healthier you will be. If you’re like me you are fortunate enough to be able to get yourself to the grocery store and get enough veggies to keep yourself in good shape.

For many people, easy access to healthy food is not an option. In many urban areas people live in what is referred to as a “food desert” where there is little to no access to grocery stores. One non-profit has noticed the trend, and is working to empower community leaders to fix the solution in some of the most ingenious ways possible: permaculturehydroponics and urban aquaponics farming. The GrowHaus (located in Northern Denver) is leading the charge to put healthy food back in the communities that need it most. (By Nathan Meyer, ICOSA Media)