These people are powering thoughtful goodness in the community.

Foundation’s IRA Program:
Helps Donor Spread the Wealth

“I can’t be a grand patron for just one cause,” said Arianthe Stettner, board member of Historic Routt County in Steamboat Springs, “But I can make modest gifts to several charities. Community First Foundation’s IRA program makes this really easy.”

Arianthe, and donors like her, held her breath each year to see if the IRS would allow the use of Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) for charitable giving. For a long time the IRS made this determination on a year-to-year basis.

At last, in 2016, the IRS enacted a permanent provision that allowed individuals age 70 ½ or older to direct up to $100,000 per year from their IRA to charity, bypassing income tax.

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“The Foundation’s program is an extraordinary benefit,” she said. “I make one distribution and receive a Giving eCard to use on This process lets me do my charitable giving through my IRA whenever I want to. I take my time and do it throughout the year.”

“I’m telling everyone about this,” she said.

Griffith-McVey Family Fund:
Giving Through the Generations

Julie and Jonathan McVey have always believed in giving back. Their parents impressed upon them the importance of giving. Now the McVey’s want to model the way for their own two children.

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Julie McVey, a long-time Lakewood estate planning attorney, said a donor-advised fund has provided an excellent vehicle for the family to engage in philanthropy together. Moving forward, the McVeys hope their children will take a larger role in decision-making for the fund.

“It’s about encouraging them to discover areas of need they are passionate about and finding nonprofits they want to support as they get older,” Julie said.

The McVeys have roots in Wheat Ridge and Lakewood, and decided to establish their fund with Community First Foundation because of the Foundation’s mission and commitment to Jefferson County. Julie said the Foundation came alongside them as a partner in setting up and administering the fund and made their giving more streamlined and efficient.

The Griffith-McVey Family Fund has supported a variety of local and international nonprofits, including faith-based charities, local news organizations and food banks.

The Womanist Empowerment Fund:
Addressing the Needs of Women and Girls

Charitable giving comes naturally to JoKatherine Holliman Page, a third-generation Coloradan with a background in civil rights and social justice issues that impact marginalized people.

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“It’s always been a part of my life to give,” she said, “as a neighbor, friend and churchperson.”

Establishing a donor-advised fund, which she named The Womanist Empowerment Fund, allows her to focus her giving on specific goals— helping women impacted by depression, domestic violence or lupus.

The fund also honors her daughter Leslye, a former executive for Nike, who died from lupus at the young age of 41. Like her parents, she was committed to social causes and served on the boards of the YWCA, the Urban League and the Reproductive Rights Initiative.

“I chose Community First Foundation to manage this fund because of the amazing projects they support,” said JoKatherine. “The Foundation is very people-centered, approachable and open to supporting causes that may otherwise fall through the cracks.”

One Man’s Solution to Simplified Giving

Darl Hobson has been an active community member for decades. He has been a longtime volunteer and served on multiple boards of directors. He also supports nonprofits financially. However, Darl’s preferred method of gifting—through appreciated stock—has become increasingly difficult. Few organizations have a mechanism to receive stock, he explained.

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A donor-advised fund at Community First Foundation allows Darl to donate
 appreciated stock to the Foundation, which has the ability to sell it to fund his DAF. Darl receives a tax benefit in the year the stock is donated, but he can take his time to thoughtfully select 501(c)(3) recipients. In addition to naming the fund, Darl is the fund’s advisor, making recommendations about whom he’d like to receive grants. The Foundation is responsible for fund management and due diligence, leaving the best part—giving—to Darl.

The Klau Family Fund:
A Shared Journey into Philanthropy

Richard (Rick) and Molly Klau’s working years were full and busy. Their charitable giving came in the form of endowing college scholarships and responding to requests. “Our giving was more passive then,” said Rick. “We decided that retirement would be the time to deepen our philanthropic impact. It would give greater purpose to our post-work lives.”

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Now retired and relatively new to the Denver area, they visited local community foundations for guidance. “To give well, you need a partner, and the best partner we found out there was Community First Foundation.” Rick and Molly asked the Foundation to educate them about the social issues confronting Denver communities. “Community First Foundation is introducing us to local nonprofits, taking us on site visits and helping us be effective philanthropists,” said Rick. “It’s quite a departure from working with a commercial brokerage. This is a true community-focused organization. It’s personal, face-to-face.”

Already a successful businessman, Rick settled on opening a donor-advised fund for charitable giving and used liquidated stock to fund it. “The donor-advised fund concept is simple and user friendly,” he said. “The Foundation keeps us engaged and motivated in the grantmaking process.” So what local needs resonated with the Klaus? “Homelessness, hunger and education at all levels,” said Rick. “You can’t live in Denver and ignore these issues and opportunities to make an impact.”Their philanthropic education isn’t over yet. “We’re still learning. The Foundation is our guide and we’re taking a journey together,” said Rick.

Valencia Family Fund:
Helping Animals and Youth While Learning About Philanthropy

Valencia Family Fund

The Valencia Family Fund may be good news for at-risk youth and puppies.

Lynne Valencia set up a donor-advised fund in late 2014 as a way to help her son and her eight-year-old granddaughter understand philanthropy. “I’m really going to let them direct it. Knowing my granddaughter as I do it will go to some animal shelters. My granddaughter loves puppies and kittens,” Lynne said.

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Community First Foundation encourages family foundations like Lynne’s to hold meetings where children and other family members make informed recommendations for which charities will receive gifts.

For her son, organizations working with at-risk youth will be a likely source for grants. “As a young man of color, he’s always been sensitive to that,” Lynne said.

Lynne said the fund is an educational tool that will help teach her son and granddaughter about the importance of giving back to your community. Helping Lynne to direct the donations will empower them to make an impact in the community.

“This will set it up for my granddaughter to feel like this is an obligation and this will open up a conversation about other ways you can give back and fully participate in our community,” said Lynne.

Brennan Family Fund:
A Family Legacy of Supporting Youth and Helping Nonprofits Grow

Brennan Family Fund

Through Joan Brennan’s donor-advised fund, a mentoring group got a much-needed boost that allowed it to grow into a state-wide collaboration.

Youth mentoring is a passion of Joan’s. When the Colorado Mentoring Partnership needed an executive director to take the fledging organization to the next level, the Brennan Family Fund paid for the position for the first year.

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“They wanted to become statewide, she said, and to do that–they needed to be able to at least have an executive director in place to start things off.” The investment paid off. The group has become a statewide collaboration working to support youth mentoring programs across Colorado.

In addition to youth causes, Joan has also supported capacity building and infrastructure for nonprofits — areas which are often overlooked and rarely funded by donors. However, without that support, it is hard for nonprofits to thrive.

“I find it a real gap in philanthropy that people don’t recognize,” Joan added. “It always amazes me that people who run businesses expect a nonprofit that has no infrastructure to run like their business which has all kinds of infrastructure.”

The fund has also supported nonprofits working with end-of-life issues, a cause championed by Joan’s late husband Larry.

Franklin Fund
The Franklin Fund:
Making a difference

MaryAnn Franklin wants to help make sure Historically Black Colleges and Universities are around to nurture future generations of students, as she was nurtured by one years ago.

MaryAnn’s donor-advised fund at Community First Foundation is helping that happen. MaryAnn attended Fisk University, one of the nation’s top Historically Black Colleges and Universities which will receiver her support.

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“It’s very important to be a contributing alumna,” she said. “I enjoyed my experience at Fisk, and want it to be around for future generations. Fisk has so many alumni who have made major contributions to the civil rights movement, education, medicine, and social justice.”

MaryAnn’s fund will also support groups helping women and girls of color become self-sufficient. MaryAnn supports the Women’s Foundation of Colorado because it builds resources and leads change so that women and girls in Colorado achieve their full potential.

“You don’t hear too much about their struggle but if you walk into any type of agency where there are childcare needs or training needs or rehabilitation needs in Denver, most of them would be women of color,” said MaryAnn. Without advocates, they struggle alone.

Leach Family Fund
Family Fund Launches Red Rocks Institute for Sustainability

Community First Foundation helps individuals, families and groups support the causes they care about most. For years, a donor-advised fund created by the Leach Family has supported programs for seniors, the arts and education.

Most recently, Dan Leach, advisor to the fund, directed the Leach Family Fund to implement the first three years of a new initiative at Red Rocks Community College. The Red Rocks Institute for Sustainability in Education (RISE) is working to spark innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability in education.

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The program seeks to improve teaching and learning for the 21st century by focusing on real world problem solving in collaboration with community and industry partners. RISE facilitates collaboration with Colorado School of Mines and Jeffco Public Schools to create educational transformation from early grades through university.

“Community First Foundation has been a phenomenal partner by setting up the Leach Family Donor-Advised Fund and by actively supporting this innovative program. A donor-advised fund allows donors to actively support important efforts and contribute their ideas. Community First Foundation provides the platform and the support to make this possible,” said Dan Leach.