Foundation expanding efforts

Group awarded more than $454,000 in 2002

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— The Yampa Valley Community Foundation is expanding its philanthropic efforts far beyond the borders of the Northwest Colorado counties it has long served.

Last year, the community foundation awarded more than $454,000 in grants, including its first international grant, which helped monks in eastern Nepal and western Tibet. Locally, the foundation expanded its boundaries by adding granting initiatives for early child care, affordable housing and youth, three areas the foundation had not specifically addressed before.

"The Yampa Valley Community Foundation is going outside the boundaries of Steamboat Springs and Routt and Moffat counties," YVCF Program Manager Brooke Sanchez said. "Yes, we are a community foundation and love and support the community. Our donors are community-minded, but they also act globally. They are also thinking about making a difference elsewhere."

In 2002, the community foundation received more than 600 gifts totaling approximately $1.1 million.

The foundation awards grants from two types of funds: donor-advised funds and discretionary funds. Donor-advised funds are set up by either an individual or an organization that can then choose, often with the help of the YVCF, where and how to distribute those funds. Discretionary funds, raised by the community foundation through the sale of its Passport Club ski passes, are used for specific programs within the local area.

One donor-advised fund, the Pundarika Foundation, granted $5,000 to help build a new headquarters building for monks and nuns in Tibet and Nepal. Closer to home, another donor-advised fund, the Victims Relief Fund, was established to help victims of the Sept. 11 tragedy. That fund sent $10,000 to New York City in 2002. Because people have continued to contribute to it, it remains active today to support local victim-relief efforts in the event of a future fire, flood or other disaster.

"I think it highlights the type of community we are that a town as small as we are is making a difference in Nepal and Tibet," Sanchez said.

But despite the community foundation's newer, broad-reaching efforts, Sanchez emphasized it is still focused on helping the local community in its five areas of interest: education, environment, health and human services, recreation, and arts and culture. And through the three new initiatives launched in 2002, it expanded its granting efforts to benefit some of the community's growing needs.

"We are working to meet the ever-changing needs within our community," Sanchez said.

Last year, through its early child-care initiative, it gave more than $20,000 to help local day-care centers cover operational costs, buy play equipment and support early learning development. A youth initiative funded a teen-center project, library art displays, teen summer programs and dramatic arts programs in all three Routt County school districts.

Through its affordable housing initiative, the community foundation worked with Habitat for Humanity and the Regional Affordable Living Foundation to complete its Hundred Hammers for Humanity campaign, which raised funds to purchase two pieces of property for affordable housing. More money was raised than was needed to purchase the property, so the remaining funds will go into a $150,000 "revolving land fund" to support future property purchases and other affordable-housing needs.

Looking to 2003, YVCF remains ready to continue supporting community programs, particularly in the face of state and federal budget cuts that will likely hurt local nonprofits. In fact, Sanchez said, belt-tightening hasn't stopped the community foundation's donors from continuing to give.

"It a true test of our community that people are still giving full-throttle," she said. "It's up to us to be smart in how we grant."

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