Aspen Community Foundation grants more than $1 million to area nonprofits |

Aspen Community Foundation grants more than $1 million to area nonprofits

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
Aspen Community Foundation executive director Tamara Tormohlen speaks at the foundation's grantee luncheon at the Hotel Jerome Friday.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

The Aspen Community Foundation awarded the following 35 nonprofits grants this year:

Alpine Legal Services, Catholic Charities, LIFT-UP, Advocate Safehouse Project, Response, River Bridge Regional Center, A Way Out, Aspen to Parachute Dental Health Alliance, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, English in Action, Literacy Outreach, Family Visitor Programs, Raising A Reader, Valley Settlement, Yampah Mountain High School Teen Parent Program, Blue Lake Preschool, Growing Years School, Mt. Sopris Montessori School, Our School, Aspen School District Colorado Preschool Program, Family Resource Center, Roaring Fork School Health Centers, Summer Advantage, The Buddy Program, Stepping Stones, YouthZone, Art Base, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Andy Zanca Youth Empowerment Program, Roaring Fork Youth Orchestra, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, YouthEntity, Access After School, Aspen Youth Center, Aspen Valley Ski/Snowboard Club

One of the greater challenges in fundraising for an Aspen nonprofit is battling the city’s image as a widely affluent, glamorous resort.

“We’re fighting this misconception about Aspen that it’s all champagne and caviar and glitz and glam,” said Oliver Sharpe, Aspen Youth Center board president, on Friday at the Aspen Community Foundation’s grantee luncheon.

“The community here, and the people who actually make this town run, they have to work jobs and their kids have to go somewhere after school,” Sharpe said, referring to the Youth Center’s after-school program, which is free thanks to donations and grants from nonprofits like the Aspen Community Foundation.

The Community Foundation hosted a luncheon at the Hotel Jerome ballroom to recognize the efforts of its 2017 scholarship recipients.

Aspen Community Foundation handed out a total of $1.1 million in grants to 35 nonprofits from Aspen to Parachute.

For such organizations as A Way Out, which aids people struggling with addiction, those dollars help provide free treatment to children, teenagers, adults and families.

Despite launching four years ago, the nonprofit reaches Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties, with offices in Aspen, Carbondale and Eagle County, executive director Elizabeth Means said.

“We have been growing very fast,” Means said, “warranting that the opioid addiction and addiction to alcohol and hard drugs are a very serious issue.”

A Way Out frequently works with families because when one member suffers from addiction, “it becomes a family disease,” she said.

“In a time when addiction is on the rise, we’re always looking for funding because the need is so great and people just don’t have the money for this expensive care,” Means said. “So we’re incredibly grateful.”

Altogether, more than 400 donors — including individuals, businesses, organizations, board members and Aspen Skiing Co., which started the Community Foundation in 1980 — contributed to the 2017 grants.

Speaking before the room of about 100, Community Foundation executive director Tamara Tormohlen touched on Sharpe’s sentiment.

“Despite our funding and that of many others, a quiet crisis still exists in our community,” Tormohlen said. “Namely, the disparity of opportunity, hope and achievement between low-income youth and families and their more affluent peers.”

Recognizing that grants alone “will not solve this crisis,” Tormohlen advocated for a “multi-faceted,” communal approach.

Friday’s event marked the Aspen Community Foundation’s first luncheon to acknowledge its grant recipients; in years past, nonprofits just received a check in the mail.

The thought behind the luncheon was simply to bring the groups together, she said.

“I love seeing (peoples’) faces, too,” Tormohlen added. “To interact face-to-face is always a lot more compelling and moving than just a transaction.”

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