When we say we are Powering Community Together, we put all the emphasis on “together.”

GraceFull Community Café:
Nurturing Littleton Residents Living in Poverty

Heather Greenwood got up early on Colorado Gives Day to prepare three dozen of her famous glazed cinnamon rolls and pots of piping hot coffee to thank Littleton residents who opened up their wallets to support her cafe.

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Greenwood’s GraceFull Community Cafe was one of 2,500 nonprofits from around the state participating in Colorado Gives Day 2018, a statewide fundraising effort to help nonprofits like hers reach their yearly goals.

When she first visited the Littleton Economic Development Department in 2016, Greenwood was shocked by one statistic. Twenty-three percent of people within a three-minute drive of downtown Littleton lived in poverty. “It was really eye-opening,” she said.

That experience prompted the creation of GraceFull Community Cafe on South Curtis Street. Run by Greenwood and her husband Troy, the cafe offers pay-what-you-can meals to Littleton’s residents.

About half of the cafe’s 120 daily customers pay full price, she said, and the others pay what they can.

“Our heart is in building relationships,” she said. “We love to see the money on Colorado Gives Day, but we’re all about seeing people enjoy a nice meal in the front of a house.”

GraceFull Community Café exceeded its goal for Colorado Gives Day and received $25,000 to help provide 2,500 meals at the café.

Intercambio Connecting Communities:
Raising Cultural Awareness Through English Language Education

It’s the last day of class and the students are nervous, but mostly they’re excited. In the course of an hour these adult learners will each practice their English speaking skills with multiple volunteers, one at a time, in a “speed-dating” style conversation practice. They will exchange stories about their children, where they work and what they aspire to do.

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On the surface the students, who are immigrants, are practicing English. But there is something bigger going on here. The students are learning to overcome their fears and gaining confidence speaking the language; and many are interacting in a personal way with Americans for the first time. But it’s OK. This is a safe space with willing volunteers.

That’s the way Intercambio, a Boulder-based nonprofit, approaches its programs. On the surface they provide affordable English language education and resources for immigrants. But they are intent on a much bigger goal: connecting people from different cultural backgrounds that rarely interact, and doing so in a warm, welcoming environment.

“Each year in Boulder County over 400 trained volunteers teach English to 1,200 adult immigrants,” says executive director Lee Shainis. “Immigrants in our program see huge life changes – over 40 percent earn more money at their jobs, and the high school graduation rates of their kids is, on average, 13 percent higher than their peers.”

Intercambio has participated in Colorado Gives Day for several years, said Shainis, and it’s had a remarkable impact on programs and reaching new donors. “There is no better way to connect your organization with new donors than through Colorado Gives Day,” he adds. “Community First Foundation has created an exciting and seamless way for people to give.”

On Colorado Gives Day 2018, 226 donors invested in Intercambio to the tune of $55,629. Every dollar donated will have an impact on the community.

Seniors Resource Center:
Enhancing Independence and Quality of Life

Many older adults wish to remain independent and in their own homes for as long as possible. Seniors’ Resource Center helps make this a reality. Operating from five locations, they offer essential services such as transportation, in-home care, enrichment programs and chore support. An endowment at Community First Foundation helps ensure these services will be available to meet the future needs of this growing population.

Pop Culture Classroom:
Bringing Learning to Life

Pop Culture Classroom inspires a love of learning through comic books, graphic novels and other media. Through the tools of popular culture and the power of self-expression, their programs inspire creativity, increase literacy and bring learning to life for low-income students. They also present Denver Comic Con, an annual, three-day pop culture fan extravaganza. Their endowment fund sustains a lifetime love of learning by supporting a fun, play-based approach to education.

Metro Denver Partners:
Turning Around Lives of At-Risk Youth

A gang-related gunshot wound lands a teen in the ER. A stray bullet kills a neighborhood friend. According to Metro Denver Partners, it is often crises like these that make youth receptive to leaving gangs and turning their lives around.

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Local nonprofit Metro Denver Partners sponsors a peer-run intervention program called GRASP (Gang Rescue and Support Project) to help teens involved in or exposed to gang activity. Taught mostly by former gang members, GRASP helps kids heal and grow through support groups, hospital interventions, parent awareness trainings, community mobilization and more.

The GRASP program is just one of the ways Metro Denver Partners helps transform the lives of youth. For more than fifty years they have been known for a proven mentorship program that pairs young people with adult mentors. In just one year, children in the program are more confident, better at decision-making and have hope for their future.

“We’ve seen these kids stay in school and recognize their potential by having a caring person in their life to nurture and support them,” said Mary Ann Burdick, executive director of the organization.”

Metro Denver Partners’ endowment at Community First Foundation was initiated by the Kinstlinger family in memory of their son and former mentor Joseph Kinstlinger. Annual revenue from the endowment helps pay for school scholarships and youth mentorship activities. “Opening a permanent endowment ensures we can fulfill the donors’ intent and protect these dollars well into the future,” said Mary Ann.

Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities:
Countless Opportunities for Creative Growth

Upon entering the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities you are drawn in many directions. A photography exhibit upstairs. An art gallery to the left. Theater productions to the right; and amidst it all a busload of excited schoolchildren reminding you of the joy of learning.

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The Arvada Center is an extraordinary asset that’s enriched the lives of Coloradans for more than 40 years. Just 10 miles from downtown Denver, it is one of the few multidisciplinary art centers in the country, offering theater, music, dance, visual arts, and creative classes to a burgeoning community.

Unique to the center are the educational opportunities offered through the lens of both the arts and humanities. A speaker series with Jewish holocaust survivors and events commemorating World War I are examples of the scope the Arvada Center brings to the table.

“By combining the arts and humanities we provide a richer experience,” says Philip Sneed, executive director. “One that reaches both the heart and mind.” Sneed emphasizes that the arts are essential to human vitality and growth.

“The arts help people in every aspect of their lives,” he says. “Creativity can be learned. Understanding and using the creative process helps people become more creative thinkers. And it’s creative thinking that helps people solve problems and generate new ideas.”

The Arvada Center invites people to develop their creativity with classes like Youth Hip Hop, Digital Movie Making, and Drawing to Enhance Creative Abilities. A category called Ageless Adults promotes the idea that exploration and self-expression know no age. “You are never too young or too old to learn and create,” says Sneed.

Scholarships from an endowment held by Community First Foundation help make the arts at the Arvada Center accessible to kids in need because, according to Sneed, “the arts are for everyone.”

Mountain Area Land Trust:
Saving the Land and Keeping Colorado Wild

Just before dropping down into Clear Creek Canyon on Interstate 70, you are greeted with a vista of open fields, coniferous forests and snow-capped peaks. This is the wild beauty Mountain Area Land Trust (MALT) has fought to preserve from development. For three years, they have been the driving force behind the $1.1 million purchase of 108-acres along the Interstate 70 corridor called North Floyd Hill. Just 25 minutes west of Denver, North Floyd Hill will provide a gateway to public open space for hikers and cyclists.

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“The reason so many of us live and raise our families in Colorado is because of the access to nature and recreation,” said Jeanne Beaudry, executive director of MALT. “With an estimated 9,000 people a month moving here, we need to act now to protect what makes this area so special.”

MALT conserves natural areas like North Floyd Hill through public and private conservation easements and educational programming. The organization uses data and mapping technology to identify significant water sources, wildlife wintering grounds, endangered species habitat and other high priority needs from the Front Range to the Continental Divide. MALT’s educational programming brings people on guided hikes, including Denver area students.

“Our work isn’t just about wildlife and water,” reflected Beaudry, “it’s about connecting people with the land.”

MALT is charged with taking care of their properties in perpetuity; becoming an endowment partner was a natural step in ensuring this happens.
“We really want to keep building our endowment,” said Beaudry. “Community First Foundation has provided financial security in a way that takes the burden off of us as a small organization. It’s fantastic!”

For more information and to support MALT Care, visit Colorado Gives.org

Dominican Home Health Agency: A Safety Net for Poor, Sick, Elderly and Disabled Patients

For nearly a century, the Dominican Home Health Agency has been a safety net for poor, sick, elderly and disabled patients in the metro area, providing in-home nursing care, medical equipment, food, or just a friendly visits – all at no cost to patients. Most of the agency’s patients are homebound and have little or no family support.

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“Without our services, they would be forgotten. They would be continually hospitalized, unnecessarily in a nursing home or die of neglect at home alone,” said Gigi Stewart, director of development for the nonprofit. “The goal is to help our patients to remain in their homes in a way that is healthy and as independent as possible for as long as possible.”

The agency was founded in 1923 by four Dominican Sisters, all nurses, who came to Denver to dedicate their lives to caring for the city’s poor and sick. Today, the agency offers no-cost comprehensive care to patients that includes skilled nursing care, personal care, food delivery, case management, customized exercise programs, medical equipment loans, wellness education and social or pastoral support. The agency’s interventions result in increased medication compliance and a reduction in falls, a significant risk for elderly patients.

The Dominican Home Health Agency established an endowment in 2012 during a Community First Foundation endowment-building incentive challenge. Since then, the fund has grown to $50,000. “When I let donors know about the matching grant program, the response was unbelievable,” said Stewart. “Everybody likes a match. They can see their money go further and that’s motivating for donors.

For more information and to support the Dominican Home Health Agency, visit www.coloradogives.org Dominican Home Health Agency

Doctors Care:
Quality Care for Low-Income Residents

For the uninsured or newly insured, the complex health care system can be overwhelming. Doctors Care provides quality, affordable health care to low-income people in Arapahoe, Douglas and Elbert counties, and helps them connect to health care and other services.

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“The people we serve don’t have insurance, or they have Medicaid but can’t seem to find access,” said Dr. Steve Conner, a member of the Doctors Care network of physicians. “We set up a game plan for each patient. That is so valuable – to be able to teach patients how to navigate the system and empower them to understand what they need to do.”

Since the Littleton-based nonprofit began 27 years ago, it has served more than 24,000 low-income residents and provided more than $65 million in medical services with the help of volunteer physicians and paid staff.

The nonprofit’s Doctors Care Clinic provides quality affordable sick and well-care visits to children and adults age 35 and under. The nonprofit also helps connect low-income and uninsured people to providers that bill on a sliding-fee scale. In addition, the nonprofit helps individuals apply for Medicaid and subsidized insurance plans on the Connect for Health Colorado website. Finally, Doctors Care provides health navigators, volunteers who help patients address their individual health care challenges and connect them to other resources that will help them overcome barriers to health.

To ensure the long-term sustainability of Doctors Care’s programs, the nonprofit established an endowment with Community First Foundation in 2006 with $200,000. That amount was matched with $100,000 from Community First Foundation.

“The endowment allows individuals who want to contribute to Doctors Care an opportunity to make a long-term investment in the organization,” said Barb Hanson, development and marketing director for Doctors Care.

For more information and to support Doctors Care, visit Colorado Gives.org

The Center:
A Lifeline for the LGBT Community

The Center is Colorado’s oldest LGBT advocacy organization, offering critical resources and support in addition to hosting the annual Denver PrideFest. More than 40,000 people a year visit the Center and more than 300,000 attend PrideFest each year.

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For some, The Center is a lifeline. The Center estimates that about one-fifth of the LGBT teens who come to its Rainbow Alley youth program are dealing with homelessness and other serious issues.

“We have approximately four to five youths who either threaten or attempt suicide every month,” said J. Ryann Peyton, training and legal director for the Center. “If we were not here, those four or five youths would be gone.”

The program gives LGBT young people a place to come after school to be a part of a community and get support, and is run by a social worker with a master’s degree in social work.

A program serving the other end of the age spectrum — Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) — has become one of the center’s fastest growing programs.

“We’re seeing a lot of folks age 55 and up who are coming out for the first time, coming out as lesbian or gay or coming out as transgender. It’s a very important program for our constituents,” said Peyton.

The Center, celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2016, also has a Transgender Program, a Family Program, and a Legal and Advocacy Program.

The Center established an endowment with Community First in 2008 with a $200,000 legacy gift and received a $100,000 match from Community First. Support from Community First Foundation was instrumental in establishing the endowment, which will help ensure The Center’s future. Proceeds from the endowment offset annual operating expenses.

For more information and to support The Center, visit Colorado Gives.org

CASA of Jefferson and Gilpin Counties:
Advocating for Young Victims of Abuse and Neglect

For young victims of abuse and neglect, the legal process can be a harrowing experience. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Jefferson and Gilpin Counties helps make that process easier for hundreds of children every year.

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“Our volunteers are often the only consistent person who stays with their case from beginning to end,” said Leah Varnell, executive director of the nonprofit, which has served more than 2,400 children since it launched in 2000.

While case workers and court-appointed guardians juggle many cases, a CASA volunteer focuses on one case as it moves through the legal and social services systems. Some cases take six months while others may last five years or more.

In addition to advocating in court for the victims, volunteers get to know the children, meeting with them weekly to make sure they are safe and getting the support they need. Volunteers might attend school meetings or doctor appointments or help find counseling for the victims.

In some cases, Vanell said, the volunteer is the only person listening or offering encouragement. “Some of these children have never had someone praise them before,” said Varnell.

CASA of Jefferson and Gilpin Counties established an endowment in 2005 during a Community First Foundation endowment challenge. As it celebrates its 15th year of helping children, the nonprofit plans to continue building its endowment, which has grown to $109,400.

“There are donors out there that really want to leave their legacy,” said Varnell. “They are confident in what we’ve done in the first 15 years and want to help us secure our future through an endowment gift.”

For more information and to support CASA of Jefferson and Gilpin Counties, visit Colorado Gives.org

Boys Hope Girls Hope:
Making College Dreams a Reality

Students who come to Boys Hope Girls Hope of Colorado dream of going to college but typically have no idea how to get there. Most will be the first person in their family to graduate from high school.

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Boys Hope Girls Hope helps smart, motivated at-risk students get the support they need to make their college dreams a reality.
“Our mission is to break the cycle of poverty through education. We help get kids to high school graduation, into college, and then we support them through college,” said Mary Fran Tharp, executive director of the Denver-based nonprofit.

It offers a residential program where students live in either a Boys Hope or Girls Hope home while attending high school and preparing for college. The nonprofit recently established the Academy Program at Aurora’s Central High School as a non-residential college preparatory after-school program. Both programs offer mentoring, tutoring, career exploration, college visits and life skills coaching.

“Now they have people in their corner showing them what needs to happen for them to be successful. It means giving them role models, people who care and want to help step in and help them change their life,” said Tharp.

The nonprofit established an endowment through Community First Foundation in July 2009 with $75,000. That total has grown to $111,000.

“The endowment has opened us to other opportunities for professional development. It has brought us together so we can network with other nonprofits. It has opened other doors for us because we are partnered with Community First Foundation,” said Tharp.

For more information and to support Boys Hope Girls Hope, visit Colorado Gives.org

The Haven:
Saving Women’s Lives

The Haven is a lifeline for women who are pregnant and addicted to drugs. Women often come to this residential treatment program as an alternative to prison. Many are homeless, jobless, and struggling with mental illness. The Haven and the Baby Haven childcare center offer a chance to get treatment and support, break the cycle of drug abuse and dependency, and give birth to drug-free babies. Ninety percent of the women who finish the two-year program stay drug and crime-free.

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“We’re saving lives and putting families back together. You ask the women in the program where they’d be without the program and most of the time they say they’d be in prison or dead,” said Bill Winn, president of Friends of the Haven, a nonprofit that provides financial and volunteer support to the Haven and Baby Haven programs.

An endowment through Community First Foundation supports educational scholarships for women who complete the program and learn skills to move forward. The endowment was established in December 2014 by Friends of the Haven. The effort was prompted by a dedicated supporter who donated $25,000 and challenged Friends of the Haven to match it. In just three months, the group was able to raise $25,000. Community First Foundation’s Endowment Challenge Grant program provided an additional $10,000, plus endowment-building guidance, education and marketing support to encourage continued growth.

“The endowment brings a sense of permanence to Friends of the Haven, provides an enduring legacy for donors to support, and a significant benefit to the recipients of the scholarships,” said Winn.

Swallow Hill Music:
Doubling Size of Music School

On a typical day at Swallow Hill Music, you might find a musician so young he has to sit on the floor to play a tiny piano or an adult picking up a guitar for the first time. Swallow Hill Music instructors might be teaching ukulele and guitar in underserved schools around the metro area or leading a singalong at The Children’s Museum.

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In the last five years, Swallow Hill Music has doubled the size of its music school, now reaching 5,000 students a year at its South Denver home and satellite locations, and thousands of other students by expanding its outreach programming, which includes visits to more than 50 K – 12 schools every year.

“Swallow Hill Music is a model of accessible and affordable music schools and performance venues,” said Deidre Hamilton, director of development for the nonprofit. “In our music school, whether you’ve ever picked up a guitar or not, you learn a song by the end of your first class. At any age you can be a musician.”

In 2013, Swallow Hill Music kicked off a “Get-Down-Ment” campaign as part of Community First Foundation’s Endowment Challenge Grant program. The nonprofit exceeded its goal of $30,000 by $15,000. Community First Foundation provided an additional $10,000.

“The endowment fund ensures overall financial stability as we continue to grow our concerts, classes, outreach programming and community-building efforts well into the future,” said CEO Paul Lhevine.

Glory Community:
An Exceptional Place for Exceptional People

The need for living options for adults with developmental disabilities is great and growing. In the United States, over one million individuals live with parents or caregivers over the age of 60. Colorado has 12,000 individuals living with aging parents. Given the staggering wait list for immediate residential services, Glory Community is dedicated to providing a viable solution for 40 adults, offering a faith-based environment for families seeking a safe and caring residential community where their child can thrive.

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“Affordability is a major issue to our potential resident families,” says Jim Hembd, president of Glory Community. Through a successful paddle-raiser event at their annual gala in 2014, patrons donated more than $40,000 to establish an endowment fund for the organization at Community First Foundation. The Foundation contributed an additional $10,000 through our endowment challenge grant program. The endowment fund will make tuition scholarships available to those who need it.

The Hotel de Paris:
Historic Landmark Preserves Its Future

The Hotel de Paris, built in 1875, is a landmark building which offers visitors an authentic look at the hotel during its heyday when Georgetown was the epicenter of Colorado’s silver mining boom. The museum’s unique collection contains more than 5,000 artifacts and more than 90 percent of the hotel’s original furnishings.

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In April 2014, the museum celebrated its 60th year and kicked off a Diamond Jubilee fundraising campaign. By July, the museum raised $20,000 for its existing endowment fund. Along with a matching grant from Community First Foundation, the museum’s endowment grew by $30,000.

A strong endowment secures the museum’s future and provides for professional staff to focus on its mission to collect, preserve and share the history associated with the hotel and encourage heritage tourism in Georgetown.

Jewish Family Service of Colorado:
Funds Provide Mental Health Services

Jewish Family Service of Colorado joined the Foundation’s first Endowment Challenge Grants program in 2004. In just a few years, they have been able to use endowment earnings to fund their mental health services. These services have been in high demand when the recent economic downturn created new stressors for families.

“The earnings from our endowment have been a lifesaver for us during these difficult economic times. It helped us sustain a part-time mental health case manager we couldn’t have supported otherwise,” said Yana Vishnitsky, president of Jewish Family Service of Colorado.

The Mesa Land Trust:
Colorado Gives Day Collaboration and Marketing Pay Off on Western Slope

The Mesa Land Trust hoped to raise about $15,000 on Colorado Gives Day this year — a modest increase over last year.

“I was quite surprised when our efforts just about doubled what we did last year!” said Mary Hughes, development officer for the Land Trust. The nonprofit raised more than $26,000 in the 2014 Colorado Gives Day campaign.

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The Land Trust’s mission is to protect agricultural land, wildlife habitat and open space in Mesa County. It currently protects 64,000 acres.

The Land Trust has participated in Colorado Gives Day since 2010. Those first years Hughes used e-mail and Facebook for marketing. “Then last year I made a real effort to integrate it with all our mail appeals” and communications through the year, she said.

At the same time, a group of Western Slope nonprofits came together to help promote their participation with Community First Foundation and Colorado Gives Day. In 2013, the group had nine members. That number grew to 22 nonprofits in 2014, highlighting Community First Foundation’s role as a connector and resource for nonprofits.

“We saw huge growth there which gave us the opportunity for more publicity throughout the county,” said Hughes. “We were fortunate to have some of the bigger nonprofits participate which was good for the visibility of all the organizations.”

Phamaly Theatre Company:
Theatre with Poss-Ability

Frustrated by the lack of theatrical opportunities for people living with disabilities, five students of the Boettcher School in Denver created a theatre company to provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to perform.

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Today, Phamaly Theatre Company produces professional-scale plays and musicals year-round throughout the Denver Metro region. The productions are cast entirely of performers with disabilities across the spectrum (physical, cognitive, emotional, blindness, deafness).

To coincide with Phamaly Theatre’s 25th anniversary, the Board of Directors and community members invested in the organization’s mission by establishing an endowment fund at Community First Foundation.

Chris Silberman, Executive Director of Phamaly, described the value and depth of the endowment. “We seek to remove the financial burden that our performers face when participating in Phamaly programs. New financial resources generated from the endowment will help us begin to pursue another long-term vision of ours—programming for youth with disabilities.”

By securing its financial future, Phamaly Theatre Company will serve the community and the region’s performers with disabilities for years to come.