Giving back is part of SME's culture

October 14, 2022

Each year, dozens of students at colleges and universities around the world benefit from scholarship money that was given to them through SME. In 2021, SME awarded more than $1.5 million in scholarship money to deserving students. More than $515,000 was doled out by the WAAIME Division.

In addition to scholarships, SME is committed to helping support the future of mining and mineral processing education through its Ph.D. Fellowship and Career Development Grants. These grants were implemented to address the long-term challenges that threaten the sustainability of U.S. mining engineering, mineral processing and extractive metallurgy degree programs, as well as the looming future labor deficiencies associated with retirements over the next two decades. In 2021, SME awarded $610,000 to five people as part of the Ph.D. Fellowship and Career Development program. Angelina Anani, University of Arizona and Taghi Sherizadeh, Missouri University of Science and Technology were awarded the Freeport-McMoRan Career Development Grant. The Ph.D. Fellowship recipients are Lynette Hutson, University of Arizona, Shoemaker Ph.D. Fellowship Grant; Amy McBrayer, South Dakota School of Mines, Stantec/McIntosh Ph.D. Fellowship Grant and Elham Rahimi, Penn State, SME Ph.D. Fellowship Grant.

Since 1991 the SME Foundation has worked to support the mining industry by supporting projects that disseminate mining/mineral information and technology worldwide. The SMEF plays a crucial role in supporting the mining industry. All of these programs help our industry remain vibrant and are supported by the generosity of SME members.

Giving back is part of the fabric of SME and at SME headquarters in Englewood, CO there is one staff member who exemplifies the spirit of giving above all others.

Theodora (Theo) Warrior runs SME’s warehouse where she oversees fulfillment, shipping of books, the warehouse and facilities at SME. If you have purchased a book at the bookstore during the MINEXCHANGE SME Annual Conference & Expo in the past few years you will probably have met her as she worked behind the counter. She is one of SME’s most valued and well-liked employees, but it’s what she does outside of SME that really sets her apart.

Warrior is the founder and president of the Colorado Cowboys, a youth football organization that serves hundreds of kids in Colorado, many of whom are from low-income families. She will probably be mad at me for this column because she does not seek attention for what she does, but the work she does deserves recognition and support. Just as SME is about much more than networking and publishing technical information, the Colorado Cowboys organization is about much more than touchdowns and defensive schemes. Warrior has created a place where her players become part of the Colorado Cowboy family. This extended family of kids she has “adopted” has been through good times and bad. In the past couple of years, five kids who were part of that family have fallen victim to gun violence that I can’t make sense of, but through the toughest of times, Warrior and the Cowboys have stood strong and been a stable force in an unstable world for some kids who truly need an organization like the Colorado Cowboys.

Warrior doesn’t think twice about digging into her own pocket to provide meals, shelter or even a vacation to Oklahoma for kids who have rarely been away from the city lights. The organization itself is one that is focused on service to the community, education and respect, and regularly works to feed the hungry and cloth those in need. These are the lessons that extend beyond the gridiron and into the player’s lives. Don’t get me wrong, the Colorado Cowboys are also serious about football. Warrior’s godson, Chevelle Early, a graduate of the Colorado Cowboys, is now one of the top high school running backs in the state thanks in large part to Coach Warrior’s guidance along the way.

In August, Warrior and the Colorado Cowboys hosted the team’s annual back-to-school barbecue for players and families where 100 backpacks filled with school supplies were distributed to players, siblings and any other kid who could use supplies for the new school year. Education is one of the cornerstones of the Colorado Cowboys. A summer rainstorm did little to deter the cookout, games and giveaway, and Warrior was recognized by Denver’s Channel 7 as its Every Day hero for her efforts.

The SME staff is fortunate to be able to help provide school supplies for Warrior and the Colorado Cowboys, and if you would like to help this organization as well, please visit the webpage at




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