Schools in BVSD have had a rough couple of years due to the COVID pandemic and the Marshall fire. Through it all students have been stocked with the supplies they need, in part, due to the effort of Impact on Education Foundation and executive director, Allison Billings.
Billings was honored with the Boulder Chamber’s 27th annual Women Who Light the Community Award. These awards recognize women who have made significant, innovative contributions to the community, according to the Chamber’s website.
“I was absolutely shocked,” Billings said, adding, ““I have been in Boulder for six years and to me these are like lifetime achievements for amazing women who have changed this community.”she said.
Billings — who took the reins at Impact on Education Foundation for Boulder Valley Schools in 2018 — defected credit to staff members.
“Our organization has responded incredibly well to both the pandemic related disruptions to education that happened since March of 2020 and also more recently to the Marshal fire,” she said. “We’ve been really nimble, worked hard and responded quickly.”
After the COVID outbreak in March 2020 Impact on Education staff quickly mobilized to revamp its approach to handle displacement issues for students.
“We did jump into uncharted territory,” she said. “That's what you do when you're in a position to help … you get to work.”
The organization ensured that meals were delivered to families who were struggling and established supplemental educational opportunities for students who missed out on instruction during the pandemic.
“In those very scary early days, weeks and months of the pandemic it felt really good to be impactful,” she said.
Impact on Education officials also jumped on board to lend community support after the Marshal fire devastated the Louisville area last December.
“Our offices in Louisville and many of us were evacuated,” she said. “We moved really quickly in the wake of the Marshal fire because we knew that kids and families were impacted.”
Billings estimated the blaze leveled the homes of roughly 100 BVSD staff members and displaced about 1,000 students.
The immediate goal was providing material assistance to allow school-aged students to maintain some sense of normalcy, as well as longer-term counseling.
“We’ve invested a ton in mental health support for kids that have been traumatized by these kinds of compounding traumas,” she said.
The efforts of Billings’ team paved the way to students returning to classrooms just days after the devastating fire.“The reason we were able to do that is because there were incredible folks within BVSD who moved really quickly,” she said. “Perhaps the silver lining is that the schools were not impacted.”
The first moves made by Impact on Education staff after the fire was extinguished was distributing school supplies.
“We had some in storage, so we raided our closet,” she said. “We figured if kids showed up with nothing but the clothes on their back that they could get back to some kind of normal.”
Billings was among half a dozen award winners unveiled this week by the Boulder Chamber. Five others were honored with the annual Women Who Light the Community award, including Google Senior Director of Software Engineering Bhavna Chhabra, Create Boulder Co-Founder Deborah Malden, Luna Cultura founder Adriana Paola Palacios, Wana Brands CEO & co-founder Nancy Whiteman and Skyline High student Diana Garcia for the Emerging Youth award.