Last of funds awarded in John Denver’s honor
JOHN DENVER ASPENGLOW FUND DONATIONS
Aspen Community School $153,000
Cradle to Career Initiative
Preschool on Wheels program $450,000
Aspen TREE $66,620
Rocky Mountain Institute
Reinventing Fire China project $1M
Wilderness Workshop $15,000
United Way of Oklahoma $100,000
Colorado Music Hall of Fame $10,600
Friends of Aspen Animal Shelter $10,000
Aspen Center for Environmental Studies $18,000
Aspen Community School $99,999
Aspen Global Change Institute $180,000
Aspen Homeless Shelter $18,000
Aspen Public Radio $150,000
Aspen TREE $27,198
Challenge Aspen $93,900
Colorado Music Hall of Fame $10,000
Cradle to Career Initiative $99,999
Feed My Sheep Ministry $45,000
First Light Foundation $220,000
Murie Center $50,000
Roaring Fork Conservancy
John Denver Sanctuary $70,000
Snowmass-Capitol Creek Caucus $18,000
The Buddy Program $25,000
Valley Settlement Project $115,000
Wilderness Workshop $25,000
Assisted Learning and Therapy $36,000
Yampah Mountain School $14,994
Aspen TREE $36,000
Children and Nature Network $45,000
Huts for Vets $45,000
Lucky Day Animal Rescue $45,000
River Center of New Castle $4,500
Roaring Fork Conservancy
expansion of poet garden $126,000
Roaring Fork Conservancy
watershed project $54,000
Rock The Earth $81,000
The Buddy Program $27,000
Valley Settlement Project $300,000*
*Includes funds awarded but not used in full a prior year.
An organization dedicated to promoting John Denver’s vision says it has awarded the last of the money raised from the sale of Denver’s Windstar property in Old Snowmass.
The John Denver Aspenglow Fund has given $4,036,810 to nonprofit organizations, mostly from the Roaring Fork Valley, over the past three years, according to Karmen Dopslaff, who helped create and supervise the fund. The money went to social and environmental causes that she believes Denver would have endorsed wholeheartedly.
“He really believed that we could save the planet,” said Dopslaff, who met Denver in a chance encounter in Aspen in the early 1980s and befriended him. She was a supporter of the Windstar Foundation, which Denver founded to promote issues such as world peace and environmental sustainability.
The Aspenglow Fund was created after the sale of the Windstar property for $8.5 million in April 2013. The Windstar Land Conservancy and Rocky Mountain Institute split the proceeds. The sale was controversial among some devotees of Denver because they wanted the Windstar Foundation to reform and continue to pursue Denver’s vision.
Dopslaff said the conservancy’s board of directors made the tough decision to sell the land because Windstar was rife with problems after Denver’s death in October 1997, when the small aircraft he piloted crashed in California.
“It wasn’t the Windstar that John had created,” Dopslaff said.
The majority of the land, 927 acres, is held in a conservation easement, which guarantees public access and prohibits development. A small pocket of 30 acres, where the Rocky Mountain Institute’s office was located until last year, can be developed.
In addition, the money that the Windstar Land Conservancy reaped from the sale has been dedicated to social, environmental and educational causes, Dopslaff said.
Dopslaff said she believes Denver would have approved of using the money to promote his causes rather than keeping Windstar alive in his name.
“He wouldn’t want to be the icon — maybe the inspiration,” she said.
Annie Denver, John’s former wife, was another of the three supervisors of the fund. Dopslaff said they were amazed by the projects they were able to fund and regretted that about 10 applications had to be turned down.
Among the grant recipients she spotlighted were Children and Nature, which works to get children worldwide connected with nature in their everyday lives. The organization says children spend 90 percent of their time indoors and have lost their connection with nature. Children and Nature received a $45,000 grant this year.
Dopslaff also singled out the Cradle to Career Initiative’s Enrichment Wednesdays program, which offered special enrichment activities to 1,500 students in kindergarten through eighth grade in the Roaring Fork School District. The program received $171,000 via two grants in 2014 and 2015.
The Rocky Mountain Institute received $1 million for its Reinventing Fire China project to promote efficient and restorative use of resources.
Aspenglow also provided money to move the “Spirit” statue of John Denver from the Windstar property to the Colorado Music Hall of Fame at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison.
The John Denver Aspenglow Fund was held and administered by the Aspen Community Foundation. Money that hasn’t been awarded was reserved for work on a documentary about John Denver, according to Dopslaff.
The fund will be dissolved, Dopslaff said, but John Denver’s legacy will continue through the programs.
This story was edited to include additional grants awarded in 2015.
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