Archive for June, 2011

Reaching out to rural Colorado

Posted by Joanne Kelley, Executive Director, Colorado Association of Funders

I’m pretty sure Rick Cohen was posing a rhetorical question in his recent post about why Colorado’s “Rural Philanthropy Days” works. In his Nonprofit Quarterly  blog, Cohen referred to the mountain region’s version of the event, which took place in Edwards last week.

“Since the last Rural Philanthropy Days [in the mountain region] four years ago, 14 donors increased their grant support to rural areas by 202 percent,” Cohen wrote. “Someone should talk to those 14 grantmakers and ask them what it is that got them to up their rural nonprofit grantmaking.”

You can read the complete Cohen post here.

And here’s an excerpt from the comment I posted in response:

I think a big part of the answer is that this is a year-in and year-out effort aimed at strengthening relationships between funders and nonprofits in the far reaches of the state. The Denver funders know these folks because they keep returning to see and hear about the good work they’re all doing.
Here’s a link to something we wrote about it in our report, “Seeing Potential, Creating Change: The Reach and Impact of Colorado Philanthropy.”

Colorado foundations are headed next to the San Luis Valley in September.

Here’s a blurb from the invite:

“This year’s event will be held in the town of Saguache, listed as one of Colorado’s most endangered places by Colorado Preservation Inc. in 2009. The event location gives attendees a view of the rustic beauty of the Valley and some of the challenges rural isolation poses.”

By the way, Rural Philanthropy Days has worked so well that we realized we could do an even better job of building relationships in the metro areas, too. We launched what we call the “C3 Forum” last year in partnership with the Colorado Nonprofit Association and Community Resource Center, the nonprofit that organizes Rural Philanthropy Days. The C3 Forum is a full day of small group discussions between funders and nonprofits. We’ll be in Loveland on July 12 and expect about 75 funders and 350 nonprofits to spend the day connecting and networking. Come out and join us!

Connecting the dots

Scott Downes, The Colorado Trust

‘Connecting the Dots’

The Colorado Trust’s Scott Downes talks about “collective impact” and how “interconnected strategies will help move us closer to making sure that every Coloradan can get the coverage and care they need to stay healthy.”

To read his blog post about his participation in the Colorado Children’s Campaign‘s It’s About Kids retreat in Pueblo, click here.

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CAF Legislative Review Offers Mixed Review on Session

Reported by Christie McElhinney, Vice President of Communications & Public Affairs, The Colorado Trust

A panel of Colorado lawmakers offered mixed reviews this week as they recapped the just-concluded legislative session for members of the Colorado Association of Funders .

Senate President Brandon Shaffer, Senate Majority Leader John Morse, along with House Minority Whip Claire Levy, represented the Democrats. House Speaker Frank McNulty and Sen. Shawn Mitchell offered the Republican view on the session.

Speaking to foundation leaders and funders gathered at the Denver Public Library, the panelists discussed the challenges presented by having a different party in control of each chamber. This year marked the first time since 2002 that the chambers have been split — with the Democrats in control of the Senate and Republicans in control of the House.

The panelists agreed that compromise was key.

“We spent some time learning how to operate in a mixed environment,” Levy said. “What suffered were the core missions within each party.”

Sen. John Morse

Morse noted that “The results were mixed, just like the Legislature.” He added that he felt the media spent too much time focusing its coverage on the fights.

Still, the panelists pointed to a number of accomplishments. Shaffer said the Legislature “accomplished three or three and one-half of our five priorities.” Passing legislation to balance the budget, create a health care coverage exchange and overhaul the unemployment insurance trust fund were among the goals achieved, while agreement was not reached on constitutional reform or redistricting.

In response to a question posed by moderator Vincent Carroll of the Denver Post about whether the K-12 education system would likely suffer more cuts in the future, panelists offered disparate views while largely agreeing that the answer was “yes.”

Mitchell said, “Resources for K-12 and the postsecondary education systems, and other vital services, requires a rebounding economy.” However, he said, he doesn’t think the state’s education system is underfunded.

While noting that the state’s education systems now account for about 54 cents of every $1 of the general fund, Senator Morse expressed concern that more funding is needed, particularly in light of a spike in special needs kids. Still, he agreed that the legislature would most likely be required to make as many cuts to education next year as they did this year.

The panelists offered very different points of view when asked about the health care coverage exchange, which Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law earlier in the day.

House Speaker Frank McNulty

Speaker of the House McNulty said he “does not support federal health care reform,” and is “concerned about the effects this [federal law] could have in Colorado. We need to build a firewall.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Senator Shaffer said the health care coverage exchange is “about providing affordable access for Coloradans.” Noting that the idea of an exchange originated in the bipartisan plan developed by Colorado’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Healthcare Reform, Shaffer said “We need to focus on what we can do here in Colorado.”

McElhinney is a member of the Colorado Association of Funders’ Communications Committee.