Colorado AeroLab (CAL) was founded in July 2017 by Elaine Menardi and Jess Buller and is a registered non-profit corporation in good standing in the State of Colorado. CAL received 501(c)(3) non-profit status in February 2018.
Original programming began as an aviation and aerospace homeschool enrichment opportunity in Colorado Springs at Colorado Military Academy. In December 2017, our colleagues took over daily operations and financial responsibility for these activities under a different organization.
In May 2018, Colorado AeroLab was awarded a federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21CCLC) grant from the Colorado Department of Education and set up learning centers in the northwestern corner of Colorado. Partnering with West Grand, South Routt and North Park School Districts, CAL began afterschool and 5th Day programs for middle school and high school students in August 2018.
A second 21CCLC grant award provided the opportunity for additional learning centers in Eads and Kit Carson School Districts on the southeastern plains of Colorado. Enrollment has grown to over 1000 students in five years with 63% of all students impacted.
In July 2022, CAL was awarded the Expanded Learning Opportunities grant from the Colorado Department of Education to continue Out-of-School-Time learning in Grand County, Colorado. Afterschool programs are currently in place at all schools in East Grand and West Grand School Districts as well as in the Town of Grand Lake.
Elaine continues to serve as Colorado AeroLab’s Executive Director. She is joined by Nathan Gardner, the Finance Director. CAL employs 17 part-time instructors serving approximately 300 K12 students.