How It All Started

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81231 Launch was originally the brainchild of Jodi Jahrling, owner of the Zu Gallery. Jarhling saw that opportunities for small, creative projects in the City of Cortez were limited, and wanted to do something about that. She partnered with Nicci Crowley at the LOR Foundation to create a system for driving these small, creative projects forward and generating positive change in the community.

On her original application to the LOR Foundation, Jarhling wrote about how she saw the 81321 Launch project:

PROBLEM: Opportunities to create a lasting small project impact in Cortez are siloed with the individual municipalities, nonprofits, and the community foundation which keeps individual community members from having a hand in suggesting ideas and decision-making.

SOLUTION: Build a project generator model that will offer a simple way for community members to improve Cortez with small, quick-moving projects. This also creates the opportunity to engage as a group (that will evolve as projects are suggested and completed) creating a positive community impact and connecting doers with ideas.

In 2023, Jarhling transferred the 81321 Launch project to the City of Cortez Community & Economic Development Department, along with the Cortez Public Arts Advisory Board (CPAAC) to administer. The CPAAC revamped the original project slightly (originally 81321 Launch! was to award $1,000 grants monthly, the revamped plan is to award grants in 3 rounds, offering up to $4,000 per grant cycle. The CPAAC still wants to prioritize grants under $1,000 to honor the original intent of 81321 Launch!) and is excited to launch again for 2024!

If you are interested in applying for an 81321 Launch grant, please find the application below. You can learn more by navigating to the “Apply for a Creative Grant” page or emailing Helen at

The CPAAC is also helping to cultivate the “Cortez Creative Alliance” to explore and advanced creative opportunities in and around the City of Cortez. If you are interested in learning more about this initiative or signing up for the occasional newsletter, please visit:

With seed-funding from the LOR Foundation, 81321 Launch is intended to continue beyond 2024. We hope the success of 81321 Launch will provide incentive for the program to continue, however we need community support and ideas to move creative opportunities forward. You can join the conversation at: