Early childhood language and literacy skills are critical to the well-being of children, their families and the larger community.

Founded as a non-profit in 1953, the Scottish Rite Foundation of Colorado focuses on three areas: speech language pathology services, early literacy and graduate student scholarships. What began with a Children’s Hospital Colorado partnership has since expanded across the state to include Metropolitan State University of Denver.

“The Foundation is always looking for new ways to engage and support the children of Colorado,” said Bryant Harris, executive secretary, Scottish Rite Foundation of Colorado. “MSU Denver’s focus on diversity and inclusion fits well with the values of Scottish Rite Masons.”

The MSU Denver Speech, Language, Hearing Sciences Department recently received a $50,000 grant from the Foundation to establish the Treasure Chest Program, a family-focused language and literacy program designed to help families improve young children’s language and literacy skills, better preparing them for school and social interactions.

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The Treasure Chest Program will serve the Denver metro area and foster community-based clinical training experiences for Speech Language Pathology graduate students at MSU Denver. Students will have a valuable opportunity to work with children and their families, providing crucial early learning sources in the form of theme-based reading and materials for in-home use, tailored for each community. As the only Hispanic Serving Institution in Colorado with a graduate program in SLP, MSU Denver is also uniquely situated to help increase diversity in the field and ensure access to communication services for historically marginalized populations.

“The University’s position in the urban environment allows us to serve children with resources closer to home,” said Harris. “We are looking forward to supporting more bilingual families through MSU Denver.”

Speech, Language, Hearing Sciences Department Chair Jessica Rossi-Katz, Ph.D., says program funding will support the clinical education of MSU Denver SLP graduate students and advance early childhood learning and literacy for young children in the greater Denver metro area. “We are grateful for the positive impact this new partnership will have on our students and the community,” she said.

Launching the Treasure Chest Program in conjunction with the SLP graduate program underscores MSU Denver’s commitment to educating culturally responsive practitioners while empowering families and supporting children’s communication and pre-literacy skill development. Together, the Scottish Rite Foundation of Colorado and the University will extend the reach of both organizations, impacting an even greater number of children and families and enhancing the quality of family-centered communication services.

“The Treasure Chest Program offers a great advantage in that MSU Denver students will have the chance to work with children and their families, as well as providing families with critical early learning resources,” said Harris.

“We are excited about this new partnership.”

Learn about how the Health Institute at MSU Denver is revolutionizing health in Colorado by empowering communities, fostering collaboration and embracing diversity. For more information about supporting Health Institute programs, contact Steve Galpern, senior director of major gifts.