Brief History of the Scottish Rite Foundation of Colorado

What is most unique about the role of the Scottish Rite Foundation of Colorado in the creation of a national philanthropic program?

In the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, the first-ever childhood language disorders program (now commonly referred to as the RiteCare Childhood Language Program) was started in Denver, Colorado in 1953. Since then in every State in the Union similar programs have been instituted by the Scottish Rite.
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How did Colorado's work with childhood language disorders get started?

In early 1952 a social worker at The Children's Hospital in Denver approached the Scottish Rite Masonic Fraternity in Denver requesting assistance for a young widowed mother who needed financial help in obtaining treatment for her 4-year-old son. The Scottish Rite Masons who followed up on this request were William G. Schweigert, 33°, Gerald L. Schlessman, 33°, and the Honorable Haslett P. Burke, 33°, Grand Cross, then a member of the Colorado Supreme Court.

Following a detailed investigation over several months these Scottish Rite Masons presented an organization proposal to the Scottish Rite membership for creation of a foundation which would be dedicated to the treatment of children with language disorders.

During a cold and snowy night on November 25, 1952, about 500 Scottish Rite Masons gathered in the Scottish Rite Consistory auditorium at 1370 Grant Street in Denver and approved creation of the Scottish Rite Foundation of Colorado for the purpose of providing financial assistance for the treatment of childhood language disorders.
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When was the Foundation formally organized?

On February 3, 1953, the Scottish Rite Foundation was formally organized as a 501(c)(3) public charity.
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How has the program grown in Colorado?

In 1953, 14 children were treated for language disorders at The Children's Hospital with Scottish Rite Foundation financial assistance. Currently, more than 1,000 children throughout the state of Colorado are annually receiving treatment for language disorders with the Foundation's financial assistance.
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What clinics partner with the Foundation in delivering speech-language services to Colorado's children and their families? When did these clinics become partners?

The Foundation began expanding its clinic program in 1986.

Today the Foundation partners with 11 service providers serving 21 communities throughout Colorado. Several of the partners have satellite operations in one or more communities. The clinic expansion evolved as follows (current partner organizations are listed):

  • 1953 — Denver, The Children's Hospital (now Aurora, Children's Hospital Colorado)
  • 1986 — Grand Junction, St. Mary's Life Center
  • 1987 — Pueblo, Care by The Children's Hospital - Pueblo (a satellite of Children's Colorado)
  • 1997 — Colorado Springs, Memorial Hospital for Children
  • 1998 — Fort Collins, Children's Speech and Reading Center
  • 1998 — Montrose, Montrose Memorial Hospital
  • 2000 — Greeley, University of Northern Colorado
  • 2000 — Cortez, The Piñon Project
  • 2004 — Grand Junction, Western Slope Head Start
  • 2006 — Sterling, Sterling Regional MedCenter
  • 2006 — La Junta, Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center
  • 2007 — University of Colorado at Boulder
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How important is the role of the Scottish Rite in helping children with language disorders?

In Colorado, as well as in the United States as a whole, the Scottish Rite's financial support for children with language disorders ranks second to support provided by the public schools.

The Scottish Rite was an early proponent for the treatment of preschool-age children who have language disorders — long before this became an accepted approach for treating speech and language disorders in children.
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What is the Foundation's special relationship with Children's Hospital Colorado?

The Scottish Rite Foundation of Colorado has partnered with Children's Colorado since 1953. In 2008, Children's Colorado celebrated its 100th year of service and the Foundation continues to be ranked as its single largest donor. The Foundation has provided more than $21 million in grants for speech therapy and related services to the hospital.

The Foundation is not only the hospital's earliest donor of record but also the first donor to establish a $2 million endowed chair at Children's Colorado — established in 2003. Known as the Kelley Family/Schlessman Family Scottish Rite Masons Chair in Childhood Language Disorders, this relationship with the hospital places Children's in a most unique position in helping to provide leadership and coordination for the Foundation's statewide services. The Chair, currently held by Kristin Uhler, Ph.D., helps to assure the quality of care and leadership for the Colorado RiteCare Program well into the future.
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