Optimist programs promote Optimism as a philosophy of life by bringing out the best in kids. The programs listed here are sponsored by Optimist International and are supported by the Colorado-Wyoming Optimist District or are sponsored solely by the district. Individual clubs choose whether to participate. If you are interested in finding a club near you, visit the Optimist International Club Directory.

Brain Bowl

Brain Bowl contestants

Brain Bowl contestants

The Optimist Brain Bowl is a high-energy academic quiz program for teams of 6 th, 7th and 8th grade students, with Optimists serving as organizers and game officials.  Approximately 1200 Colorado/Wyoming students participate annually in three regional tournaments and one championship tournament. Teams of up to five students compete in a series of simultaneous team-to-team contests in a round-robin format, then move to single elimination contests among the best of the round-robin teams. More 100 Optimists serve at each contest as “game-show-hosts,” timers, scorekeepers, runners, checkers and in other positions. Optimists who wish to be room readers must attend advance training; all other volunteers are trained on the morning of the events  The contests are generally in January-February. Full information and dates are at OptimistBrainBowl.org.

Rich Urbanowski, Brain Bowl Co-Chair, mrurban3@gmail.com, 303-986-0964
Connie Ackerman, Brain Bowl Co-Chair, connieackerman@comcast.net, 303-798-6434


Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH)

CCDHH Contestant

Nearly identical to the Optimist Oratorical Contest, CCDHH offers two scholarships of $2,500 each. One is for a student who will present in sign language and another for a student who will present orally. The second scholarship is funded from contributions collected in the Colorado/Wyoming District. Due to the low number of students in the deaf community we do not have Zone contests but rather rely on clubs to work with teachers and parents to identify anyone who might want to participate, then give them a chance to practice at a club meeting before competing for the scholarships at the District level on the same date as the Oratorical Contest competitors. This year those contests will be held at the District 3rd Quarter Conference on April 28, 2018 at Bethany Lutheran Church 4500 E. Hampton Ave. Cherry Hills Village, CO 80113.

For an application with contest rules, click here.

Joe Priester, District CCDHH Chair, joepriester@hotmail.com


Childhood Cancer Campaign (CCC)

 The Optimist Childhood Cancer Campaign is all about “Providing the Care … Find the Cure.” In line with Sock Out Cancerits mission statement of “Optimist International shall be the leading force to rid the world of childhood cancer,” the district program raises funds to provide support to cancer patients and their families as well as for cancer research. It works with clubs on activities supporting its mission and annually conducts one big fund-raising event. In 2017, this will be on May 12. The district’s Childhood Cancer Campaign committee is the entire Front Range American Cancer Society Optimism Club.

Patty Hasty, CCC Co-Chair, pattyhasty@msn.com, 303-619-9495
Judy Poulson, CCC Co-Chair, judypoulson@comcast.net, 303-841-9783



2016-2017 Awards and Recognition

Congratulations to Jim Ringel, Boulder Evening Club, recipient of the Rookie of the Quarter Award, and to Carol Hollomon, Windsor Gardens Breakfast Club, recipient of the Hit the Ground Running Award, for the First Quarter 2016-2017.  Both awards were presented at the Second Quarter District Conference, on February 11, 2016.  Keep up the fantastic job!

Rookie of the Quarter
Awarded to ONE new member who, during their first quarter as an Optimist member, best demonstrated dedication, leadership and commitment to their club and community during their joining quarter.

Hit the Ground Running
Awarded to a member who embraces the Optimist Creed along with their volunteerism during their first year of joining.

Club Project of the Quarter
Awarded to a club that conducted a project that has “Brought out the Best” for the youth in our communities.  The project must be completed within the current year.

Groundbreaker Award
Awarded to a club that has promoted Optimist International to increase membership and public knowledge of our principals.  The promotion can be in the form of brochures, press releases, website, social media, or media recognition.  When submitting, clubs attach an example with the nomination form.

Optimist of the Year
Each club can submit one nomination.  The nominee can be either an old or new Optimist Member who has demonstrated an exemplary example of Optimism in the club and the community, the award presented at the First Quarter Conference, 2017-2018.  Nomination must be postmarked by October 10, 2017.

See the attached flyer for criteria and more information about these awards.  For questions, contact:  Trish Merrill t_merrill@comcast.net

2016-2017 Award Categories (FLYER)


Receive a $50 gift certificate to your favorite Restaurant by sponsoring three new members into your club this quarter.  Sponsor more, earn more!  See the flyer attached for rules.  Contact Frank Middleton at frankm101@hotmail.com

3 Member Award (FLYER)



CO-WY DISTRICT ESSAY CHAIR: Joe Marci     marcifrog@aol.com
4173 S Rosemary Way Denver, CO 80237     303-771-3748


  1. Select a club essay chair and notify Joe by email. He can be a support to your chair, share flyer and certificate ideas, remind people of deadlines, and can send students’ names who contact him and need a club sponsor.
  2. Have the chair visit the Optimist International web site…www.optimist.org… Members… Programs…Scholarship Contests…Essay… the entry forms and all information are there. The essay should be 700-800 words.  This year’s topic is “Can society function without respect.” Deliver a packet (letter, flyer, and  5 or more entry  forms ) to the high school or middle school your club supports.
  3. Deadline should be February 1st or shortly thereafter.
  4. Arrange for 3 judges to review the essays independently. Judges may be club members.
  5. Our club invites the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners and their parents as well as the teacher we work with and the school principal to a meeting. We have the 1st place winner read the essay and present certificates to the students. You may also prepare certificates for each student who participated in the contest.
  6. Clubs are allowed to give monetary awards of up to $500 per winner for the Essay contest in addition to official medallions or certificates. The Club level awards may be given in the form of a scholarship, savings bond or cash prize but are completely discretionary.
  7. Another positive gesture is to send each participant a card thanking them for their entry and have the Optimist Creed in it.
  8. Be sure to send your winning essay, birth certificate, and forms to Joe Marci at the above address. It must be postmarked by February 28, 2018! Include a $20 check to CO/WY Optimist District.


HOBY Liaison

HOBY (Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership) Colorado puts on a leadership seminar over a 4 day “weekend” every June for high school students who have just finished their sophomore year.  The mission is to motivate and empower them to make a positive difference within our society through understanding and action based on effective and compassionate leadership. Core values of the program include Leadership as Service, Volunteerism, Integrity, Excellence, Diversity, and Community Partnerships. The first HOBY leadership seminar took place in Colorado in 1978. Over the years 95% of the counties have been represented at our seminars. Learn more at hoby.org and hobycolorado.org.

Paul Bernard, HOBY Colorado Chair, pbernard@hobycolorado.org, 720-339-8025


Junior Golf

The Optimist International Junior Golf Championships (commonly referred to as THE OPTIMIST) is one of Optimist International’s major youth programs.  Each year, THE OPTIMIST is held at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (home of the PGA’s Honda Classic) and fields almost 700 of the world’s best junior golfers from more than 25 countries around the globe.  Past age group winners at THE OPTIMIST (and its predecessor, the Optimist Junior World Golf Championships) include Denver’s own Mark Hubbard, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Davis Love III, Lorena Ochoa, Beth Bauer, Nancy Lopez, Brittany Lincicome, Lexi Thompson, Brooke Henderson, and Jason Day, among dozens of prominent PGA and LPGA golfers.

The Colorado-Wyoming District Optimist Junior Golf Program serves over 300 junior golfers each year.  The best of these golfers will qualify for THE 2018 OPTIMIST.

The 2017 District qualifying tournaments were held Thursday, June 15, at Flatirons Golf Course in Boulder (boys ages 14 – 18) and Friday, June 16, at Fitzsimons Golf Course in Aurora (boys ages 10 – 13 and girls ages 10 – 18).  A total of 228 golfers teed off in those two events, competing for 41 spots at THE 2017 OPTIMIST.

An additional 25 – 30 junior golfers participated in pre-qualifying tournaments in Loveland and Fort Morgan, sponsored by Optimist Clubs in those areas.

In October 2017, we held the 2nd Annual 36-hole Optimist Junior Golf Tour event at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Northeast Denver.  This was a new event for us starting in 2016 and, because of its success, will become an annual event.  A total of 80 golfers teed off, competing for 23 spots at THE 2018 OPTIMIST.

In 2018, we will hold a 2018 Optimist Day at the Colorado Rockies on June 3 vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers, an adult scramble fundraising tournament on June 4, district qualifying tournaments on Friday, June 8, at Aurora Hills Golf Course in Aurora (boys ages 10 – 15); Thursday, June 14, at Meadow Hills Golf Course in Aurora (girls ages 10 – 18); and Friday, June 15, at Flatirons Golf Course in Boulder (boys ages 16 – 18).  We expect close to 250 golfers at these 2018 District qualifying tournaments, competing for 47 spots at THE 2018 OPTIMIST.

The Colorado-Wyoming District Optimist Junior Golf Program is totally self-funded.  We sent 58 junior golfers to THE 2017 OPTIMIST and raised over $ 35,000 for that purpose.  We were able to give $ 1,000 to each of the seven age group winners and 34 other qualifiers from the 2017 District qualifying events.  With six additional slots for THE 2018 OPTIMIST, we will need to raise about $ 40,000 to provide the same amount of financial support for the 2018 age group winners and other qualifiers.

Various fundraisers are used to defray expenses for the local qualifying tournaments and for sending junior golfers to THE OPTIMIST.  An adult golf tournament and live auction were held Monday, June 5, 2017 at Broken Tee Golf Course in Englewood.

In 2017, we also had three Optimist Days at the Rockies.

We also solicited title, hole, banner, and player sponsors for the qualifying tournaments at Fitzsimons and Flatirons from many Optimist Clubs, individual Optimists and Friends of Optimists, and their businesses.

In addition, we solicited cash and in-kind donations at the annual Denver Golf Expo, from local golf courses, Optimist clubs and members, and the general public.

Please continue to help support the Colorado-Wyoming District Optimist Junior Golf Program to “Bring Out the Best in Kids”.

2018 Optimist Junior Golf Sponsorship Flyer



For further information, please contact:

Bob Meyer, Junior Golf Co-Chair, meyerrob@comcast.net, 303-814-5990
Joe Marci, Junior Golf Co-Chair, marcifrog@aol.com, 303-771-3748
Ron Cisco, Junior Golf Co-Chair, ciscoron@msn.com, 303-749-0749



The Colorado/Wyoming District JOI (Junior Optimist International) Committee is concerned with helping our Optimist Clubs bring “JOI” to their community by aiding our young people to step out and help others. There is nothing more exciting than finding that you have the power to make a difference in the lives of others in your school, neighborhoods, community, and the world! As our youth join together to “make that difference” for others, they become empowered and their self-esteem soars! The committee helps Optimist Clubs in our District develop JOI Clubs in schools, churches, Boys and Girls Clubs, and anywhere that youth gathers to develop community.

As of now, the Colorado/Wyoming District has 11 chartered, up and running JOI Clubs.   High Schools: Sand Creek; Summit Lake Dillon; Phoenix Rising.  Middle Schools: Horizon; West Warriors; Place Bridge Academy.  Elementary Schools: Keller; Chinook; Bradley; and our newest as of February 2017, Scott.  We have one non-school based club: Kidz Partnering.  These young Optimists are making quite a difference in their communities.  Therefore, we are working on creating a Colorado/Wyoming Optimist JOI District.

The District formation team is meeting that includes Optimists interested in expanding the leadership opportunities for kids and to coordinate some interactions among the JOI Clubs of this District.  We are planning a JOI Conference on May 6th of 2017 to elect a JOI Governor, Governor Elect, and Secretary to be sent to the JOI Optimist Convention in Albuquerque this year for training and inspiration.

If you need help in starting or maintaining a JOI Club, contact Donna Priester at donnapriester@hotmail.com or Abigail Nicholas at abigailnicholas@msn.com or committee members Jon Watcher – 303-204-5645 or Larry Brown – 719-502-0752.  We will present to your club and talk with those interested in this program.


Literacy and BUG (Bringing Up Grades)

Literacy is a high priority by Optimists. A number of activities supporting literacy are sponsored by Optimists at various levels such as: International (Essay contest, Oratorical contests, and Internet Safety courses), District 25 (Brain Bowl), and club (mentoring, reading, and book donations). Bringing up Grades (BUG) awards are popular programs to recognize students who are making an effort to do better in school. Literacy Co-Chairs provide information these and other literacy projects by publishing a list of current projects. Each year there is a literacy banner patch for clubs that sponsor at least one literacy project during the year. An annual report is expected from each club by the end of October.

Clara Sitter, Literacy and BUG Co-Chair, 303-795-5517
Jeanette Thompson, Literacy Co-Chair jeanettethompson@comcast.net, 303-750-0792

Literacy Handout 2014-2015 Literacy Intro Literacy Report 2014-2015


District Strategic Growth

The NOW team provides support, printed materials and expertise to all Colorado/Wyoming Optimist clubs in all of the following programs: NOW recruitment for new members, Friend of Optimists (FOO) recruitment, “30 under 30” member recruitment, new club building, membership retention and membership mentor programs. The NOW committee encourages all Optimist club presidents or membership chairs to to schedule a team member to provide membership support. It meets the 2nd Thursday of each month at 11 A.M.@ the American Legion hall, I-25 & E-Yale Ave.

Charlie Pease, Chair

Members: Larry Brown, Ron Benson, Phil Perington, Frank Middleton, Tony Carpenter, Craig Baldwin, Trish Merrill, Curt Merrill, Sam Bartley, Steve Armfeld, Andrew Sanger, Abigail Nicholas & Jeff Gartz.


Oratorical Contest

“Where Are My Roots of Optimism”  is the topic of the 2017-2018 Oratorical Contest.  This is a great opportunity for a student to earn up to $22,500 in scholarship money! The contest is a combined gender contest. The contest is open to students who have not reached their 18th birthday before October 1, 2017 and have not graduated from High School.  There is no minimum age or grade level requirement.  All Clubs must have completed their Club contest on or before March 17, 2018.  The 1st and 2nd place Club winners will advance to the Zone contest.

A BIG RULE CHANGE this year:  “ All contestants must speak on the official topic in the first sentence of the speech”  Timing will begin with the first spoken word.

For more information contact Steve Gorrell: sgorrell1@yahoo.com or 303-920-2366

2017-2018 Oratorical Contest Application
2017-2018 Oratorical Club Planning Guide


PGI (Professional Growth & Improvement)

Speaking up

Speaking up

The PGI Program offers 7 basic tenets allowing club members to have an opportunity to become involved in Personal Growth and Involvement, both personally and for their club and district. From the day a member accepts their own PGI Passport the road to Leadership and increased involvement in the mission of Optimists is greatly enhanced. As the member works their way through the 10 levels of accomplishment wonderful things manifest. Validation of involvement in Club activities, Membership Growth and increased camaraderie are but a few benefits of the PGI Program. PGI is based on supporting the standards of being a good Optimist, benefits received when joining an Optimist Club, new leadership challenges, recognition for accomplishments, better understanding of the O.I. Organization, worldwide promotion of our Optimist philosophy and the personal support rendered to Club Presidents on a yearly basis.

Phil Perington, PGI District Chair, perington@msn.com, 303-832-4578.


Respect for Law

 Susan and John Swanborg, Respect for Law Chairs, jswanborg@comcast.net


Social & Technology

Clubs looking to get a Facebook page or a website can get Accademy Facebook Pagea running start with the help of his program. Nicole Powell can come to your club and show you how to create a Facebook page in under 5 minutes and show you how it works in under 15. She will help as well with other technology and social media questions.

Nicole Powell, Social & Technology Chair, nicolephotography@yahoo.com, 719-313-9497.


Tri-Star Basketball

TriStarTri-Star Basketball is a district-wide skills competition for boys and girls age 8 – 13 that tests abilities in passing, shooting and dribbling. Optimist volunteers register about 1500 kids in local competitions, set up the competition in a gymnasium, administer and score each kid’s effort and then provide awards to the winners. Local competitions are held in January and February and the 3 top scoring kids in each gender/age bracket (36 kids) are invited to compete in one of 4 Regional Competitions. The Final Competition is held in conjunction with a Denver Nuggets game – usually in late March or early April. If scheduling allows, the competition is held on the floor of the Pepsi Center in the afternoon before that night’s game. Full information is at www.tristarbasketball.org.

Phil White, Tri-Star Basketball Co-Chair, 970-330-4016
Jack Rife, Tri-Star Basketball Co-Chair, 303-349-1280

Kevin Keilbach, 719- 429-7965
Ron Benson, 303-423-2249
Michael Chavez, 303-960-5304


September 2018
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August 27, 2018 August 28, 2018 August 29, 2018 August 30, 2018 August 31, 2018 September 1, 2018 September 2, 2018
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