History of COGA

The Colorado Geographic Alliance, part of a network of fifty-four Geographic Alliances across the country, was founded in 1986 by the National Geographic Society and geographers in Colorado. Our main objective is to provide resources and professional development for elementary and secondary school teachers, ensuring the public understands the rationale behind comprehensive geography education throughout the State of Colorado. COGA is a statewide educator’s organization in which the collective knowledge of experienced teachers of geography is shared with others to strengthen the position of geography in all Colorado schools. Communication and programs supported by COGA develop and foster grassroots collaboration to facilitate interaction of teachers and to encourage conversations about geographic concepts across the state.

A grant from the Colorado Geography Education Fund (COGEF), which was established by the National Geographic Society's Geography Education Fund, supports programs and activities. The Colorado Geography Education Fund's Advisory Committee advises COGA's Coordinators and evaluates its programs. Administrative offices for COGA are located at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

As of November 1st, 2008, COGA has been housed at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. We are developing exciting opportunities to help teach geography and to emphasize the importance of geography education across the state of Colorado.

COGA seeks:

  1. To equip educators with solid geographic content knowledge, skills, and an awareness of the uses of the geographic perspective.
  2. To provide opportunities for educators to develop effective skills for geography instruction and the ability to evaluate and access instructional progress.
  3. To ensure that geography is valued as an important part of the curriculum by State and local governments, school districts, employers, and citizens.

COGA Membership and Leadership Council

The Colorado Geographic Alliance encourages anyone interested in geography to become a member.

  • Connections We connect educators, administrators, non-profits, geographic corporations, and legislators with each other, forming a community of stakeholders in Geographic Education. 
  • Giant Traveling Maps are available through a partnership with the National Geographic Society to bring a new understanding to your students of their connection to the world.
  • Workshops - COGA coordinates and sponsors teacher education workshops in conjunctions with school districts and other disciplinary organizations throughout the year to advance understanding of geographic education.
  • Advocacy - Of nine areas listed as core academic subjects in the No Child Left Behind Act, geography is the only one that has no dedicated federal funding program.  COGA works through local, state, and national legislators to advance geo-literacy in our schools and communities.

Membership is free & simple: Just sign up via this link.

The Alliance is guided by a voluntary Leadership Council (LC) comprised of active members whose purpose is to steward the organization through careful adherence to its mission, vision, values, and strategic plan, providing a model of shared leadership. The LC is comprised of various stakeholders in geography education, as described in this document.  If you are interested in being part of the Leadership Committee, please contact us via coga@uccs.edu


Brief Chronology of COGA

1980s

  • Inaugural Meeting of COGA: March 6, 1986
  • One of the original seven states of the National Geographic Society’s (NGS) Geography Alliance Network
  • Leadership of COGA: Coordinator Dave Hill, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Location of COGA: Center for Geographic Education, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Establishment of a $1 million endowment held at National Geographic in 1989
  • Opportunities, guidelines, and funding came from NGS, with matched funding from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE)
  • Steering Committee
    • Major policy making body of COGA
    • Since 1989: Teacher Consultants were elected to serve on Steering Committee—taking on leadership roles for specific activities (conferences, Geography Awareness Week, etc.).

1990s

  • Co-Coordinator: David Cole (1990)
  • Summer Institutes generated 477 Teacher Consultants
  • Annual Fall and Spring Conferences
  • Bylaws established: March 1993; implemented September 1993
  • Ongoing matched funding from the National Geographic Society and the Colorado Department of Education ($50,000 each)
  • Establishment of the Colorado Geography Education Fund (COGEF) to provide funding for projects in the state that support geography education.  There was no official link with COGA.
  • Last two-week Alliance Summer Geography Institute (1998)
  • Retreat at Breckenridge (Fall 1998)
  • Dave Hill retires (Summer 1999)
  • COGA offices move to the University of Northern Colorado (August 1999)
  • Jim Doerner becomes Co-Coordinator (September 1999)
  • Sophia Linn becomes Program Manager (September 1999)
  • Colorado Department of Education cuts matching funding for COGA (December 1999)

2000s

  • National Geographic announces changes in entire alliance network funding (October 2000)
  • Steering Committee elections (Summer 2000)
  • David Cole retires (May 2001)
  • COGA receives “one time” grant from COGEF from roll-over funds to continue operations and offer limited programs (September 2000 - August 2001).
  • COGA Past/Present Steering Committee Retreat (September 2001)
  • COGA receives Transition Year funding from NGS for 2001-2002.
  • COGA receives approval from NGS to go to COGEF for operating expenses (February 2002).
  • COGA granted operating expenses from COGEF for September 2002 - August 2003.
  • Leadership Subcommittee established to review future leadership options.
  • Subcommittee recommends that COGA move to Denver and be led by Steering Committee. This suggestion was approved by the Steering Committee (March 2003).
  • COGA moves from UNC to the Center for Teaching International Relations (CTIR) at the University of Denver (August 2003).
  • Steering Committee takes on leadership role and initiates new programs.
  • COGEF decides to award a single grant to fund one organization to be the leader of geography education efforts in Colorado (December 2004).
  • COGEF awards single grant to Phil Klein and Jimmy Dunn at the University of Northern Colorado.  (Grant begins September 2005 and ends October 2008.)
  • Geography Summit: November 4-5, 2005
  • UNC and COGA establish the nation's first Graduate Certificate in Geography Education with funding and logistical support from the Colorado Geography Education Fund and the National Geographic Society (March 2006).
  • COGEF awards single grant to Steve Jennings and Rebecca Theobald at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (Grant begins November 2008 and ends October 2011).

Thanks to Sophia Linn for preparing this review.