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Five Archuleta County nonprofits receive El Pomar emergency grants

For the fourth time since the start of the economic downturn, El Pomar Foundation is distributing $1 million in emergency funds to Colorado nonprofit organizations helping those most affected by the economic downturn.

Throughout the state more than 140 nonprofit organizations that focus on direct human service support will receive grants over the next month, including five in the Archuleta County area. The money is being distributed through El Pomar’s Colorado Assistance Fund IV, a follow up to CAF I ($1 million in November 2008), CAF II ($1 million in August 2009) and CAF III (early 2010).

Locally, Pagosa Outreach Connection ($6,000), Community United Methodist Church ($2,500), John Paul II Catholic Church ($2,500), St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church ($2,500), and Pagosa Pregnancy Center ($1,000) will receive grants. The organizations were recommended for grants by El Pomar Foundation’s Southwest Regional Council, an advisory board of community leaders representing five counties in southwestern Colorado. Mary Jo Coulehan of Pagosa Springs is a member of the Southwest Council.

“Southwest Colorado has been particularly hard hit with unemployment and Archuleta County is having its highest unemployment rate in 22 years,” said Coulehan. “This CAF IV will be invaluable in assisting so many people in our community due to these continuing dire economic conditions.”

The trustees decided to distribute CAF IV funding after surveying nonprofit organizations across the state and reviewing statistics in the areas of health care and unemployment to determine the sustained impact of the recession on local organizations. Despite indications of gradual economic improvement throughout the country, the research numbers tell a story of stagnancy and continued decline in Colorado, particularly throughout rural regions of the state. Significant findings include:

• Of those direct service providers surveyed, 95 percent reported an increased demand for services.

• Statewide unemployment numbers reached 9.9 percent in January 2011 and every region has experienced escalating rates each year since 2008. In Archuleta County unemployment rose from 11.6 percent in January 2010 to 12.8 percent in 2011.

• The number of families who could not afford health insurance increased with a 9 percent rise in CHP+ caseloads across the state. In the southwest, the CHP+ quarterly caseload was 1,879 from April to June 2010, 37 more than in 2009.

“Each year Pagosa Outreach Connection has existed, a nearly 40 percent increase in either requests or monies provided has occurred. This trend is expected to only persist as the economic crisis continues for Archuleta County residents,” explained Carmen Hubbs, executive director of Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program. “Though the program has been fortunate to increase its funding, its membership and its effectiveness each year, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so. Some Pagosa Outreach Connection members have indicated they are experiencing decreases in personal donations and thus are having to scrutinize requests for assistance much more carefully.”

El Pomar Foundation, based in Colorado Springs, is one of the oldest and largest private foundations in the Rocky Mountain West. El Pomar contributes approximately $20 million annually through grants and Community Stewardship Programs to support Colorado nonprofit organizations involved in health, human services, education, arts and humanities, and civic and community initiatives. Spencer and Julie Penrose founded El Pomar in 1937.

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