Lamar Hosts 2018 Rural Philanthropy Days Event

Friday Roundtable Sessions at Lamar Community Building


Lamar hosted Rural Philanthropy Days (RPD) 2018 last week, June 13-15, the first time the event, which is held every four years, came to this city. Eight counties in southeast Colorado were represented including Prowers County.  The event, which helps match philanthropic donation funders with non-profit organizations, was coordinated in partnership with the City of Lamar, Community Resource Center and Anschutz Family Foundation and was held at multiple locations including Lamar Community College, Shore Arts Center, the Elks Lodge and the Lamar Community Building.

Although the logistics of organizing an event of this nature are far-reaching, the premise is simple; bring together those seeking funding for their local organizations with those representatives from around the state who will determine if there is a match of goals and interests and would accept future applications for donations. Anne-Marie Crampton, the RPD Conference Co-Chair, discussed the event this past Friday morning, June 15th, during what is probably the most crucial portion of the three day event, the Funder Roundtables.

Introduction to RPD at Lamar Community College by Anne-Marie Crampton and Pam Denahy

“This amazing event brings together organizations which come to our region of Colorado, looking for projects to fund and a willingness to invest in our community,” she explained. The first of the three day session begins with an introduction into the non-profit sector of southeast Colorado which outlines some of the strengths and some of the more pertinent needs of the area which also has an emphasis on economic development opportunities.  Additional groundwork of this nature is also developed on the second day with remarks from representatives from OEDIT, State Office of Economic Development and International Trade, USDA, Rural Development.  Several break-out sessions are also held where panels discuss community and economic development strategies and developing community involvement on a long-term basis.

Crampton said that each of the funders has specific areas which they will support, such as art, economic development, youth activities, capital projects and a host of different criteria based on the mission statements of these foundations and groups.

Barbara Howe, Executive Director of A.V. Hunter Trust, explained that her organization is the oldest private foundation in Colorado. “We were established in the 1920s by A.V. Hunter who left a portion of his estate to his family and the remainder to establish a charitable trust.  Hunter set up four areas to be supported:  seniors, the indigent, disabled and youth.  Those four areas are still in effect in our funding efforts and our trustees continue to hone in on what is relevant today to support, based on the directives from several decades ago.”

The A.V. Hunter Trust, Inc. awarded grants to charitable organization in 2017 totaling $1,982,500. Funds were also provided to 301 individuals in need of dental services or durable medical equipment which accounted for an additional $328,844.  By category, there were 74 indigent related organizations were aided in 2017, 56 for youth, 22 for seniors and 18 organizations for disabled citizens.

“The RPD presents an opportunity for funders and non-profits to meet. We don’t get to rural Colorado areas on a regular basis and most funders are from Denver and Colorado Springs, but our efforts are directed statewide and we attend these to introduce us to the needs of every region in the state.  We also have a chance to reconnect with older groups we’ve aided and to new organizations we weren’t previously aware of,” Howe said.

During the first two days, both groups have an opportunity to assess which organization might be prone to fund theirs which is conducted during the morning roundtable sessions at the Lamar Community Building. Likened to ‘speed dating’, the groups share a table where those requesting funds offer a brief summation of their goals and financial needs.  Based on your presentation, you receive a green, yellow or red light in the first few minutes.  Howe said, “Green says, when you get home, ‘call me’ and we’ll talk; yellow said, ‘let’s talk a little more to help me decide’ and red means you should attempt another funding organization as you probably have merit, but your goals do not align with ours.”  She added that A.V. Hunter Trust participates in two RPDs a year, in June and September and they are available throughout the state the entire year.

Crampton explained that green doesn’t automatically equal money coming to your organization, just that you are now invited to make a formal application for funding. “In this region of the state, non-profits are usually one or two person organizations, so we’re desperate for those opportunities that offer a chance to hone our skills at such tasks as grant writing, financial reporting, formal presentations…areas which are necessary but aren’t readily available without some specific guidelines.”

She estimated there were about 30 different funding groups for this event and as many as 50 different regional groups from the eight participating counties that sought that green light on Friday. “After I attended the Trinidad RPD event in 2014, about two years later, efforts began to have Lamar qualify to host the next event as these take place in rural areas in the southeast every four years.  Because we were spread out in the community at different locations instead of just inside one building for three days, the funders were able to witness what life is like in this part of the state and how our interests coincide and are developed from our lifestyles,” she explained.

The work continues now for those groups that earned a green or yellow light on Friday, an opportunity to continue the dialogue with the funding foundations to submit an application for funds which can aid their specific organization and on a broader scale, a portion of southeast Colorado.

Participating foundations includeded:  Adolph Coors, Anschutz Family, Buell, Delta Dental, El Pomar, Gates Family, Jared Polis, Kenneth King, Dush Desai, Orton Family, Robert Hoag Rawlings and Southern CO Family.  Other groups involved were:  AV Hunter Trust, AmeriCorps Programs, Chinook Fund, DOLA, CTO, GoCO, NextFifty Initiative, State Historical Fund, The Colorado Trust, USDA Rural Development and Colorado Creative Industries.

By Russ Baldwin


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