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Community foundation digs deep for nonprofits

Naomi Havlen

A total of $203,000 was given to a number of nonprofits from Aspen to Parachute this spring as part of the Aspen Valley Community Foundation’s grant-making program.

Foundation director Ellen Freedman said the organization’s board combed through 18 proposals before awarding money to 15 nonprofits dedicated to education, health and human services and strengthening community.

“We look at how an organization is functioning – if it is an effective organization,” Freedman said. “It’s not enough to have a great mission. We want to make sure they are a good investment for the community foundation’s money.”

Nonprofits that receive funding need strong leadership and the ability to reach a number of people with services. Freedman said organizations also need many funding sources because depending on just one funding stream is “dangerous for any nonprofit.”

The community foundation, founded in 1980, has a number of grant programs. The recent grants are part of the foundation’s discretionary grant-making cycle, which comprise giving out $500,000 split between the spring and the fall.

“Good grant-making is challenging, and it’s hard to turn people down,” Freedman said. “We all feel very fortunate to be able to be a part of making these grants. We get to know the nonprofits doing the work and our donors who make it all possible.”

This spring’s grants include $17,500 to COMPASS, which provides alternative public schooling within the Aspen and Roaring Fork school districts.

Garfield County School District No. 16 received $9,500 for a reading program that includes low-level reading books and appropriate testing material for Parachute High School.

The district also received $30,000 for its Teen Parent Program, which educates young mothers on life decisions. The start-up organization is in its second year, when a nonprofit’s expenses can be higher.

“To us this is a wonderful investment, because the school district will eventually take on the costs of the program, and it will be sustainable,” Freedman said.

Garfield County School District RE-2 received $30,000 as part of a three-year commitment to support its Center for Leadership in School Reform program.

A nonprofit called Mpower received $5,000 to help students develop self-expression through media literacy, and to teach students to think critically about the portrayal of alcohol, tobacco, drugs and violence in the media today.

The Stepstone Center was granted $7,500 for its SPIR&T program, or Students Promoting Individuality, Respect & Tolerance. Yampa Mountain High School’s Teen Parent Program received $13,500.

The foundation’s Health and Human Services grants total $75,000. Advocate Safehouse Project in Glenwood Springs received $13,000 to help eliminate domestic violence and sexual assaults in Garfield, Pitkin and west Eagle counties through victim/survivor assistance, community education and Latino outreach.

The Buddy Program, which provides mentoring partnerships for kids ages 4 to 18, received $8,000, and Colorado Mountain College’s Senior Wellness Program received $4,000.

The Family Visitor Program received $20,000 to promote healthy families by providing home visitation services for pregnant and new families. Roaring Fork Hospice will use $10,000 from the foundation to hire a “palliative care case manager,” improving the quality of life for people with life-threatening illnesses not yet deemed terminal.

YouthZone received $20,000 to help its mission of providing opportunities for kids ages 6 to 18.

The foundation’s grants for “strengthening community” total $15,000. Mountain Regional Housing Corp. received $7,500 to help create affordable housing options and assist people with buying a home.

Parachute Public Radio, KSUN, also received $7,500. Its mission is to “be the venue of information, entertainment and education for the residents of the communities of Parachute, Battlement Mesa and the immediate area.”

The Aspen Valley Community Foundation has contributed over $17 million to local nonprofit organizations. For more information on supporting nonprofits, call 925-9300.

Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com


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