Cottonwood Institute

About Us

Cottonwood Institute collaborates with schools and youth organizations, primarily middle and high school students, to deliver high quality, high impact environmental education and service-learning programs during the school day for academic credit that are designed to:

1. Help students exercise their voice through its hands-on, student-centered programming model.
2. Provide students with an authentic opportunity to become leaders and to do something positive to address real world issues they are passionate about in their communities.
3. Remove barriers to explore the outdoors, including gear, food, transportation, and professional instruction.


Community Adventure Program (CAP)
CI’s core program, CAP, is an innovative 18-week-long class for public middle and high school students offered during the school day for academic credit. During CAP, students meet 4-5 days a week, go on hikes, overnight camping trips, learn about and discuss local issues, choose an issue to address as a class, and collaborate with other local organizations to design and implement a student-directed Action Project to positively address their issue. CAP students have tackled flood restoration projects, wildfire mitigation projects, organized bike to school days, food desert projects, organic gardening and composting projects, projects to help save the bees, and more. CI’s hands-on, project-based programs teach essential 21st century skills, including critical thinking, creative problem-solving, work ethic, and grit!

Signature Events

Cottonwood Institute has sponsorship opportunities for 2 main fundraising events per year:

Base Camp Bash
The Base Camp Bash is our main fundraising event and annual excuse to get together, have fun, eat local food from Snooze, local beer from Great Divide, drink great wine courtesy of Idella Wines, enjoy live music from Mile High Brass Band, and bid on fabulous silent auction items, trips, unique experiences, and date nights from the best local businesses and restaurants. The Base Camp Bash helps raise the critical funds we need each year to connect students to the outdoors and empower them to take action to improve their schools, the community, and the environment for future generations.

The Throwdown
The Throwdown is our annual charity cornhole tournament for folks who want to enjoy an afternoon outside tossing bags, while supporting a great local educational non-profit. Whether you’re an expert or you’ve never heard of the game before, it is a great time for all. Relax, no experience is needed to participate! This tournament is wildly fun and the popularity has been growing every year, especially with Denver’s professional crowd. In fact, this is now quite possibly the largest charity cornhole tournament in Denver!

Giving Opportunities

Cottonwood Institute strives to build a network of supporters that are committed to each other’s long-term sustainability and success and loves it when its donors and supporters work together.

Schedule Your Donation For Colorado Gives Day 2018

Starting on November 1, 2018, you can schedule your donation online in advance for Colorado Gives Day, an annual statewide movement to celebrate and increase philanthropy in Colorado through online giving.

Donations to Cottonwood Institute made through from November 1, 2018 – Colorado Gives Day on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 will receive a share of a $1M incentive fund thanks to Community First Foundation and FirstBank.

Volunteer Opportunities

Cottonwood Institute is always looking for passionate volunteers to serve on its Governing Board and Advisory Board and hosts an annual Urban Farm Volunteer Project in September to bring together its donors, sponsors, board, staff, instructors, alumni, and educational partners each year to help Re:Vision tackle the food desert issue in the Westwood neighborhood in Denver, CO.

Matthew Keeney

President, Aor


Why is Cottonwood Institute important to you? What is your WHY for supporting them?
Supporting Cottonwood Institute is a no brainer. As a grassroots organization on a tight budget, every contribution made, matters — and is also greatly appreciated. What’s more, the team at Cottonwood Institute is a true partner to the community, and to AOR, in every sense and seeks to repay the generosity of its donors by helping make vital connections and introductions.

What inspires you most about the work being done by your non-profit?
Thanks to the work done by Cottonwood Institute, we learned that the vast number of underserved youth living in the front range spend their time at the base of the Rocky Mountains — often staring at them from classrooms — without having the opportunity to experience them. But, Cottonwood Institute is changing that by giving all kids the chance to learn about the beauty and power of the environment and its effect on the world.

Does this non-profit have any special events or initiatives that the community can get involved in? What has your participation experience been like? Please describe.
AOR is proud to be a sponsor of the annual fundraising events for Cottonwood Institute including both the Base Camp Bash and The Throwdown. Not only does AOR donate their time and resources for the event through our creative services, but we also sponsor teams for the Bag Toss tournament — a wonderful way to support and spread the word about all the amazing things that Cottonwood Institute is doing for our community.

What is one thing you wish the Denver business community knew about Cottonwood Institute and how can the Denver business community help?
One thing I wish the Denver business community knew is that in addition to supporting those in the world which it thrives, Cottonwood Institute also strives to do good for its beneficiaries. By working hard to be connector for corporate sponsors, Cottonwood Institute has built a healthy ecosystem of supporters — and AOR is grateful and proud to be a part of that group.