By Tracy Pope
serving Southwest Colorado
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado has spearheaded the COVID emergency response donations in our five-county region through the Community Emergency Relief Fund (CERF). Combined granting from CERF and the Community Foundation’s projects and donor-advised funds has totaled more than $1.25 million since March.
The Community Foundation has distributed CERF funds totaling $617,514, supporting nonprofits and the broader community.
Food security has been the focus of a large portion of CERF granting, with $187,621 distributed to nonprofits and local food producers across five counties in southwest Colorado. The foundation has worked to provide region-wide collaboration in food purchasing to benefit multiple food systems, while leveraging $85,000 of other funds, such as CARES Act dollars, to stretch CERF dollars even further. Purchases have included both nonperishable and perishable items. When feasible, the perishable food is purchased from regional small farms to support local agriculture.
“It has been eye-opening to be a part of the team that is addressing the sharp increase in food insecurity across our region,” said Briggen Wrinkle, executive director of the Community Foundation. “People who have never needed food assistance before are visiting our local pantries at record numbers.”
In addition to CERF, the foundation has granted $593,180 through COVID-response donations from donor-advised funds and other COVID-related projects. The Community Foundation is home to 33 donor-advised funds. So far this year, 75 percent of the foundation’s donor advised funds provided grants to nonprofit organizations.
“This has been an intense eight months,” said Wrinkle. “I have not seen granting at this level in my eight years at the foundation. When emergencies arise, our partners truly step up to make generous, impactful donations.”
Grants were disbursed across numerous sectors in all five counties of southwest Colorado. The top three sectors that received funding were human services, education, and arts and culture.
Since the impacts of the pandemic are expected to continue through winter and beyond, $147,000 in CERF funds is earmarked for spending in first quarter of 2021. The CERF fund receives COVID-related emergency donations at coloradogives.org/cerf.
The Community Foundation serves Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan counties.