Aspen Community Foundation shows breadth of COVID relief

Aspen Times staff

Aspen Community Foundation has released a report detailing the impact of three COVID-19 relief funds, which distributed nearly $10 million between 2020 and now.

The 2020 Rescue Fund, COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, and Bringing Back Businesses Basalt Fund provided pandemic relief to 48 non-profit organizations and 123 businesses in the Aspen-to-Parachute region, according to the foundation. The dollars primarily supported housing and utility assistance, food, mental and physical health, and strengthening the community, foundation officials said.

“We started convening our non-profit and government partners the week of the shutdown. We needed to make sure we had a plan, and that everyone was connected with each other,” said Valerie Carlin, cradle to cradle director at Aspen Community Foundation. “Through these pandemic response efforts, we’re proud to say we’ve helped at least 15,000 households in our community.”

Pie charts shows disbursement percentages of the Aspen Community Foundation’s COVID relief funds. (Courtesy Aspen Community Foundation)

One of the funds, established by donor philanthropists through Aspen Community Foundation, was the 2020 Rescue Fund. The fund was launched to help non-profits, small businesses, individuals, and families through essential humanitarian assistance. More than $5.1 million was donated to 54 non-profits and 26 businesses supporting local, social-service non-profits by 119 donors, according to the foundation.

“COVID funding from Aspen Community Foundation was transformative for our community,”  said Katherine Sand, director of Aspen Family Connections. “They were extraordinarily responsive and gave us the confidence to channel funds fast and efficiently to the hundreds of families who came to us in desperate need. It would be hard to imagine better collaborative partners than Aspen Community Foundation, and we know from our community how profoundly this assistance helped in terms of sheer survival and morale during a time of great uncertainty and stress.”

Another fund, the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, was launched directly by Aspen Community Foundation and received contributions from donors. City and county governments gathered to mobilize CARES Act funds. Among 182 other donors, Pitkin County contributed $1.8 million for a total of $4,463,000 donated to businesses and non-profits, providing economic assistance, food distribution, and other essential services including legal aid, domestic violence support, child care, mental health, and health care.

“Our staff was overwhelmed, and we did not have the financial ability to meet the needs of our community when services shut down,” said Marian McDonough, regional director of Catholic Charities. “Aspen Community Foundation quickly reached out to their donors and were able to secure funds to support those in need. The funding and support we received not only helped people stay in their homes, but, for our staff, we knew we had the financial means to help.”

The Bringing Back Business Basalt Fund supported small businesses in the town of Basalt, with donors giving $96,000 for 14 businesses to help them through the economic downturn and operational burden due to public health guidelines.

To read the full COVID-19 Pandemic Response Report, and to learn more about Aspen Community Foundation, visit