By Ann Butler
One of the best parts of the beginning of a year is looking back at the generosity of the community in the previous year.
The Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado had a busy and big year, infusing $1.44 million into nonprofits in the five-county region it serves.
The money is donated in a variety of ways. The lion’s share, $1.167 million, was awarded in grants from families and individuals that have established funds within the foundation and Friends of the Foundation. Another $218,000 was awarded in grants facilitated through the foundation. About $7,000 went to scholarships for local education opportunities.
And $50,750 in grants was awarded by the foundation itself. That number was more than triple the amount the foundation awarded in 2015.
For the second year, the Community Foundation’s financial position was strong enough to award $20,000 in unsolicited Impact Grants. I can’t imagine how sweet it must be for the nonprofit for the foundation to show up with an unexpected check – it must feel like manna from heaven.
Five organizations in La Plata County received funds:
Mountain Studies Institute received $3,500 to provide scholarships to students with financial hardship who want to participate in the Experience Mountain Science Program, which provides hands-on science experiences, internships and mentoring for regional students.iAM Music received $3,500 to purchase musical equipment for its music and mentorship program at the DeNier Youth Services Center. It’s the only extracurricular arts program offered to the at-risk youth at the center, which is expected to reopen soon.Dogster’s Spay and Neuter received $3,000, which will allow it to help 100-200 families who need affordable spay and neuter services for their pets.Durango High School Student Council was awarded $1,500 to help pay for student-planned activities, including homecoming, prom and graduation.And the Durango High School After Prom Association was given $1,000 to provide a fun and safe activity for juniors and seniors on a night that can be dangerous for them and the community.Two nonprofits in Archuleta County received Impact Grants:
The Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership received $3,000 to support administrative expenses, regional promotions and advertising for its Lifelong Learning workshops and its Environmental Film Festival. The festival, by the way, is on April 8.The Kickin’ It During Summer Youth Program was granted $3,000, for art and science supplies, field trips, nutritional morning and afternoon snacks and daily activity supplies. The foundation has added several programs in recent years, and one new offering is its annual Make a Difference Speaker’s Series.
It won’t happen until Oct. 4, and tickets won’t go on sale until May, but it’s definitely a save-the-date kind of occasion. New York Times columnist and two-time Pulitzer winner Nicholas Kristoff is coming to Durango to speak at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College. The foundation, of course, booked him for his humanitarian efforts because the foundation has a mission – “to facilitate the growth and effectiveness of philanthropic contributions and expand the culture of giving” in Southwest Colorado. Or, to put it more simply, “how to change the world, and how to make a difference.”
(Sponsorship of his visit will have its privileges because Kristoff will join donors and sponsors for breakfast the next morning at the Strater Hotel.)
There are a lot of people who don’t know about the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado, and if you’re one of them, I encourage you to learn more by visiting www.swcommunityfoundation.org.
HHHAnyone who consumes electricity in La Plata County is likely a customer of La Plata Electric Association. And if you’re not rounding up your payment to support the LPEA Round Up Foundation, I encourage you to sign up forthwith or posthaste, whichever archaic term you prefer.
The Round Up Foundation awarded almost $69,000 to area nonprofits in 2016, but that’s just part of the total $322,000 LPEA donated last year.
It gave more than $25,000 in a special grant to the Four Corners Office for Resource Efficiency for a solar project for low-income residents in the county, and another $28,000-plus in a Round Up grant to the Community Emergency Assistance Coalition and Pagosa Outreach Connection.
More than $55,000 went to educational grants in La Plata and Archuleta counties and almost $40,000 was given as sponsorships for local nonprofit organizations and community fundraisers. I know I have seen LPEA gift baskets on many silent-auction tables as I attend events in the community, and they are often targeted toward helping the purchaser become more energy efficient.
And finally, $104,000 went to Special Projects grants. I’m betting $100,000 of that is part of LPEA’s two-year $200,000 commitment toward Fort Lewis College’s Geosciences Physics and Engineering Hall. While it’s a donation, it’s also an investment in LPEA’s future workforce, and the future workforce for many local companies.
HHHIt may just be me, but when I hear you can give by using a debit card, shopping through a website such as Amazon Smile or whatever means a business has chosen to add philanthropy as a part of its business model, I wonder how much money is actually raised.
Well, Beth Drum, senior vice president at Alpine Bank, answered one of those questions for me.
In 2016, the bank donated more than $30,000 through its Loyalty Debit Card program, which donates 10 cents for each transaction to the category the customer has selected. Those include environment, the arts, education and community.
That wasn’t the bank’s total giving, which approached $100,000 last year, but it proves that philanthropy through business promotion can be quite effective for both the business and the nonprofit community.
HHHCheck back at durangoherald.com for more Neighbors stories and photos. Click on the word “Neighbors” to make sure you haven’t missed any stories. Neighbors runs in the Sunday print edition of The Durango Herald.Here’s how to reach me: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items. Follow me on Twitter @Ann_Neighbors.I need photos for all Neighbors items, but they must be high-quality, high-resolution photos (at least 1 MB of memory) and include no more than three to five people.