Grand Junction recognized for sister city efforts

Grand Junction has received recognition for assistance provided in El Espino, its sister city in El Salvador.

Grand Junction won Sister Cities International Innovation Awards for 2019 for youth and education and professional and technical assistance. The youth and education Award recognized a scholarship program, while the technical assistance award was presented for an annual dog and cat sterilization program.

The Foundation for Cultural Exchange, a nonprofit organization based in Grand Junction, facilitates the sister city efforts.

The awards were presented during the Sister Cities International annual conference in Houston.

The FCE started a scholarship program in 2009 with three high school students and a budget of $900. Since then, the program has grown to 35 scholarship recipients and annual budget of about  $34,000. The scholarships start in the first year of high school and continue through college.

The program ensures students have ongoing support and accountability from their primarily Colorado-based scholarship sponsors. Families become stakeholders in the scholarships and their students’ academics.

The annual spay and neuter campaign began in 2018 and has treated a total of more than 650 dogs and cats during two, three-day campaigns, in turn preventing of thousands of animal births in the first two years alone.

The campaign is part efforts to reduce the spread of disease and improve community health.