During our inaugural Give! campaign in 2009, the Independent and three dozen community partners empowered 29 local nonprofits to raise $198,000 in cash donations. Plus, the accompanying multimedia campaign provided these wonderful organizations with more than $100,000 worth of invaluable publicity as well as many new volunteers, board members and other in-kind gifts.

For Give! 2010, we've upped our goals:

• to raise at least $250,000 from 1,500-plus donors, with more than 500 donors under 37 years of age;

• and to significantly expand non-monetary donations of both time and needed goods and services.

A diverse panel of nonprofit-knowledgeable community stewards will help the Independent evaluate and select the Give! 2010 nonprofit class.

Applications are due at 4 p.m., Wednesday, May 12. For application forms, as well as pertinent background on our 2009 campaign, click the Give! button at csindy.com.

Please pass on application material to worthy Pikes Peak-area nonprofits that could benefit from knowing about this unique fundraising and outreach opportunity.

$1,000 reward! We're hiring

The Independent seeks your assistance in finding the right (or is it the left?) person to spearhead our revenue-generating activities as advertising director. This is a new position; because our sales have grown, we now need a talented, inspiring, dedicated individual to focus full-time on managing, motivating and training our staff of 13 talented display, classified and cyberspace ad executives.

Your mission: Bring in new and renewing business from local, regional and national accounts eager to reach our 126,000 loyal, upscale, educated, good-looking readers.

To help get thinking caps intact, the Independent is offering a $1,000 cash reward — or a $1,500 gift to the local nonprofit of your choice — if our new advertising director hire is due to a referral from you. See details on p. 51 of this week's digital issue.

Community conversation: homosexuality

The Independent, along with Focus on the Family and the Pikes Peak Gay & Lesbian Community Center, will team up with Vanguard Church to host the fourth "Community Conversation," this one on homosexuality.

The event will take place at 7 p.m., Monday, April 12 at Vanguard Church (3958 N. Academy Blvd., vanguardchurch.org). Participants will range from Focus senior vice president Tom Minnery to former Vice Mayor Richard Skorman, from Bill Oliver of the GLBT Episcopalians to psychotherapist Dara Hoffman. The event is free and open to all, and more information is in an advertisement on p. 17 of our digital issue.

Fort Carson Town Hall

The fifth annual Fort Carson Town Hall meeting, just like its predecessors, will enable participants to hear from the post's commanding general as well as to learn about the Pikes Peak Area Council of Government's latest data on how the growing military bases are impacting our community.

The event, set for 3 to 6 p.m., Friday, April 16 at the Doubletree Hotel World Arena, 1775 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., is free and open to all. A four-page centerfold supplement in this week's issue tells you much more.

Democrats' Senate debate

The Indy is pleased to sponsor the first El Paso County debate between U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff on Friday evening, April 23, at Colorado College's Worner Center (902 N. Cascade Ave.).

Starting next week, reserved seating tickets will be available from the Independent, the Bennet and Romanoff campaigns, the El Paso Democratic Party and Colorado College. In addition, more than 100 tickets will be released to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis a half-hour before the debate starts. For those unable to attend the event, it will be rebroadcast by KRDO News Channel 13. Eric Singer, one of the station's anchors, will co-moderate the debate with yours truly.

More details will come in next week's Independent, but it's worth noting here that we anticipate hosting a similar debate for the GOP contenders sometime later in 2010.

Indie Spirit Film Festival

The third annual Indie Spirit Film Festival, from April 23 through April 25, features more than 90 films from all over the world. Indie Spirit has quickly become Colorado Springs' most ambitious film festival, with dozens of filmmakers and hundreds of fans attending screenings, panels and receptions. Pick up the official Indie Spirit Film Fest program guide in next week's Independent. You can also still win free passes via our IndyBlast weekly newsletter; if you haven't signed up for the IndyBlast, you can do so at our csindy.com homepage.

Strong mayor for the Springs?

On Wednesday evening, May 5, at Stargazers Theatre & Event Center (10 Parkside Drive), the Independent will host a public town hall meeting to discuss the merits of a proposal to change our city from a council-manager form of government to a strong-mayor form of government. Details will be published in next week's Indy.