5-9-14, by Sarah Jane Kyle, Fort Collins Coloradoan.
When it comes to supporting nonprofits financially, Bohemian Foundation is one of the most well known names in the biz.
Bohemian Foundation is a private family foundation established in 2001 by philanthropist Pat Stryker. The foundation focuses on issues such as poverty, improving quality of life for Fort Collins residents and enhancing music and the arts in Fort Collins.
This spring the Pharos Fund, a fund that specifically supports nonprofits with programs for public awareness or encouraging and supporting youth, granted $510,000 to 32 Larimer County organizations. The fund has awarded more than $13.5 million in grants to nonprofit organizations since its start in 2001.
Selecting a subsection of the more than 350 nonprofit organizations in Larimer County can be a difficult task, but Community Programs Director Sara Maranowicz said funding nonprofits strategically is the best way to promote Pharos Funds goal of advancing local youth into productive members of society.
“(Nonprofits) are often best placed to really understand what’s most needed in the community and the best way to meet that need,” she said.
Here, Maranowicz and the Bohemian team share a bit about the grant process.
Question: Why are grant initiatives such as Pharos important to our community as a whole?
Answer: We know there are hundreds of nonprofits doing great work in our community. These organizations are strong when they can build diverse sources of income — including support from individuals, businesses and grant programs such as the Pharos Fund. Through this fund, Bohemian Foundation aims to be responsive to the needs of nonprofits working in our goal areas. Bohemian Foundation believes in every organization we support. There are so many great things to highlight about the organizations supported through the Pharos Fund, but I’d like to convey how important nonprofits are in our community.
Q:What types of things do Pharos Fund support?
A: Grants provide support for program, general operations, equipment/capital and technical assistance requests. Examples of programs supported previously through Pharos Fund include youth mentoring, financial literacy training, youth arts apprenticeships, literacy enrichment activities and civic engagement forums.
Q: What are a couple of examples of 2014 Pharos Fund recipients?
A: Launch: Community Through Skateboarding, which received $5,000 in this year’s grant cycle, opened its doors in November 2012 as Fort Collins’ first nonprofit indoor skate ramp, skateboard museum and skateboard library. Launch Community Center is an indoor, supervised drug-free skate park that houses this unique after school program geared toward at-risk teenage boys. The Early Childhood Oral Health Project, which received $15,000 in this year’s grant cycle, is an initiative of Poudre School District’s Early Childhood Education program. This project recognizes that children’s dental needs must be met at a young age to help them become productive students. In the classroom, providers teach children how to brush their teeth and about other dental hygiene skills. Providers distribute dental hygiene information for students to take home and share with their families. The program aims to connect families to a dental home in the community which allows for continued follow-up treatment and wellness screenings.
Q: What are some of your hopes for the Pharos Fund in coming cycles?
A: We hope and expect that Pharos Fund will continue to provide meaningful support to nonprofits in our community. We are inspired by organizations applying to Pharos Fund. We look forward to continuing to learn about how nonprofits are addressing a range of community needs, producing positive results and helping to build a strong, vibrant community.
2-8-14, by Sara Maranowicz, Fort Collins Coloradoan.
Heart. Intellect. Partnership. These are the words I use to describe how I see Larimer County coming together to address the very real challenges faced by our community. We know poverty is one such challenge, with many roots, no easy explanations, or simple solutions.
The number of Americans living in poverty is at a level not seen since the 1960s. When you add in the number of lower income Americans struggling to make it day to day, it is even more sobering. In Larimer County, 30 percent of all households live on less than $35,000 annually.
And while there is debate about the causes for and solutions to poverty, we can't lose sight of this truth: Poverty impacts an entire community, not just the individuals working hard each day to make ends meet. It influences many elements of a great community: how we spend limited public resources, how we grow our economy, how our schools achieve excellence. Our path toward building a vibrant community demands we work together to not only support individuals, but also refine policies and strengthen systems that impact the lives of individuals living in poverty.
Two years ago, our community launched three national poverty alleviations models: Bridges Out of Poverty, Circles Larimer County and the Workplace Navigator Pilot Program. These initiatives have helped our community rethink assumptions about poverty and craft strategies to support individuals and families moving toward economic stability.
Bohemian Foundation is releasing a Report to the Community to share our experiences and observations of these efforts to effect change. The report isn't meant to put closure on a job well done. The report is intended to mark progress, recognize important lessons learned, celebrate Larimer County's success and affirm there is more work ahead.
The models profiled in our report present a platform that can involve our entire community — business leaders, educators, social service workers, employers, local government and residents — to view poverty through a shared framework and engage in local efforts with local outcomes.
Everyone has a role to play, and the hard work is up to all of us. The poverty conversation is not new, and while the numbers and statistics paint an important picture, they don't tell the full story. These models help to do just that. We believe they capture the real traction this community is already making in considering poverty through a different lens.
More often than not, conversations about community change may happen with a few elected officials, social service providers, and possibly a few strong leaders, but rarely across the community. It's powerful to stumble into positive conversations with people in our community — a local hotel clerk or a firefighter — about their experience with these models. This is how change happens. This is how Larimer County can build on our strengths and become a community where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
Bohemian Foundation is committed to educating and inspiring our community into action and to the power of collaboration and partnerships to build a stronger Larimer County. Our collective efforts to realize local solutions to economic immobility and reduce the barriers that hinder self-sufficiency and social inclusion will create a rising tide of well-being for our entire community.
If you haven't taken part yet, we hope that you're ready to join in, take action and create lasting change. I invite you to learn more about these initiatives and our work. Please take time to browse our Report to the Community and find out how you can get involved at www.bohemainfoundation.org.
Sara Maranowicz is Community Programs director for Bohemian Foundation.
12-13-13, North Forty News.
Bohemian Foundation announced Dec. 12 that local nonprofits working to improve the well-being of children, teens and families, and promoting community engagement are among the Fall 2013 Pharos Fund grant recipients. Examples of programs supported through the Pharos Fund include: youth mentoring, financial literacy training, youth arts apprenticeships, literacy enrichment activities, and civic engagement forums.
A total of $513,507 was awarded to 29 organizations. Grants range from $5,000 to $30,000. Since its inception in 2001, Bohemian Foundation has awarded over $13 million in Pharos Fund grants to a wide variety of nonprofits serving the Fort Collins area.
Nonprofits receiving Fall 2013 Pharos Fund grants:
B.A.S.E Camp, Inc. $25,000 Bauder Elementary School, PSD $12,000 Boltz Middle School, PSD $5,000 Center for Public Deliberation, CSU $26,703 Children’s Speech & Reading Center $5,000 ChildSafe Colorado, Inc. $20,000 Colorado Water Institute, CSU $13,000 Department of Human Development and Family Studies, CSU Campus Corps $29,469 Department of Student Services, PSD $5,820 Educo School of Colorado $15,000 Food Bank for Larimer County $30,000 Fort Collins Museum of Discovery $25,000 Fort Collins Soccer Club $10,000 Friends of the Gardens on Spring Creek $7,500 HalfMoon Arts $7,000 Homelessness Prevention Initiative, Inc. $25,000 Larimer County Child Advocacy Center $15,000 Lincoln IB World Middle School, PSD $29,695 Little Shop of Physics, CSU $22,320 Live the Victory Inc., The Matthews House $25,000 Neighbor to Neighbor, Inc. $25,000 Project Self Sufficiency of Loveland-Fort Collins $25,000 Serve 6.8 $25,000 Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center $15,000 The Community Literacy Center, CSU $5,000 The Family Center/La Familia $25,000 The Growing Project $15,000 Touchstone Health Partners $10,000 United Way of Larimer County, Inc. $15,000 TOTAL $513,507
Pharos Fund grants are awarded to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations with programs that serve as a catalyst for public awareness or encourage and enable our youth to become productive members of society. Funding priority is given to organizations that empower people to help themselves, focus on causes versus symptoms, and demonstrate inclusion of social and cultural differences. Grants provide for program and project support, general support, equipment/capital support, and technical assistance. Pharos Fund recipients are selected through a competitive process by a selection committee. The selection committee is comprised of Bohemian Board members, Bohemian staff and community members. Bohemian Foundation will begin accepting applications for the next Pharos Fund round starting in early February 2014. Visit our website for more information. Bohemian Foundation is a private family foundation established in 2001 by Pat Stryker and the Pharos Fund was the Foundation’s initial responsive grant-making program.
10-6-13, by Pat Stryker and Ray Caraway, Fort Collins Coloradoan.
We have heard endless accounts of people coming together in small and big ways to help those who have suffered catastrophic losses amid widespread flooding in our state. Our history of rolling up our sleeves and opening our wallets led to Fort Collins recently being named one of the most generous places in the nation to live. But it is clear, as we look across the many efforts underway to aid flood victims, that all Larimer County communities deserve to share in this recognition for generosity.
Compassion and philanthropy are part of our culture and collective DNA in Larimer County. Those qualities inspire a heightened consciousness during times of devastation and disaster. Charitable giving in response to a disaster can often be confusing. It is a time when many of us feel particularly motivated to help, yet the “how to” can be overwhelming. The Community Foundation of Northern Colorado has teamed up with Bohemian Foundation to offer a matching challenge we hope will inspire everyone to give.
Spread the word.
Bohemian Foundation is providing a challenge grant of $750,000. This grant will match dollar-for-dollar all donations from individuals made to any of three flood relief funds established through the Community Foundation. You can designate your gift to one or more of these charitable funds: Estes Park (Drake and above), Loveland (below Drake), and Poudre River communities.
Successfully reaching the challenge will mean an additional $1.5 million available for flood relief in Larimer County.
How the funds work:
• While tens of millions of dollars in government assistance will provide for road and bridge repairs and other needs, charitable giving will help fill gaps in this government funding.
• Flood relief grants from the funds will go to a variety of nonprofits providing help to individuals, as well as to assist with city and county efforts.
• Donations also will help support the Long-Term Recovery Group, a coalition of area nonprofits helping individuals and families affected by the flood. The United Way of Larimer County serves as the fiscal agent and is providing leadership assistance.Eight years ago, Bohemian Foundation issued a similar matching challenge that enabled Larimer County to send more than $2 million to the Gulf Coast to assist with Katrina relief. That process, in partnership with the Community Foundation and United Way, was a model of effectiveness.
Please take advantage of this challenge to double your gift to help those in need here at home. If you have family and friends in other parts of the country asking how they can help, spread the word. Tell them about the matching challenge. Donors don’t need to be residents of Larimer County to have their gift matched.
Your gift is tax deductible and easy to make. Simply go to www.NoCoFoundation.org to donate online or mail a check to:
Community Foundation of Northern Colorado
4745 Wheaton Drive, Suite 100
Fort Collins, Colorado, CO 80525
Checks should be made payable to “Community Foundation” with “Flood Relief” in the memo line. If you wish to designate your gift for a specific fund(s), please indicate this on the memo line.
We are proud to live in a community recognized for its generosity, spirit of giving and big heart. Working together, we can have significant impact on the lives of our friends and neighbors in Larimer County.
9-19-13, North Forty News.
Bohemian Foundation is challenging individuals to donate to flood relief and recovery efforts in Larimer County and will match dollar-for-dollar donations from individuals made by Oct. 31 to the three flood relief funds established by the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado. You do not need to be a resident of Larimer County to have your gift matched.
In response to the devastating floods impacting our region, the Community Foundation created three charitable funds to address the intermediate and long-term relief and recovery needs within Larimer County. These funds are:
• Flood Relief: Estes Park and its canyon communities (Drake and above)
• Flood Relief: Loveland and its canyon communities (below Drake)
• Flood Relief: Poudre River communities.
Gifts to the funds will support the work of local nonprofit agencies and governmental entities in their work to meet the needs of those impacted in our community. Bohemian Foundation will donate up to $250,000 to each of these three funds to match donations that are made by individuals by Oct. 31. The Community Foundation will not charge any administrative fees on donations made to these funds.
“One thing we learned from the fires of 2012 is that there are two distinct needs to address in this type of disaster: immediate response needs and long-term needs,” Community Foundation president Ray Caraway said. “The Community Foundation’s Flood Relief funds are not designed to detract donors from the immediate local efforts. However, we understand that donors are also thinking about long-term implications of the flood on our regional resources and infrastructure.”
“This community was incredibly generous in answering Bohemian Foundation’s challenge to contribute donations to the 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina disaster relief efforts in this same manner,” said Pat Stryker, founder of Bohemian Foundation. “Now let’s turn our compassion back to our neighbors here at home and do the same for those who have suffered catastrophic losses from the recent, devastating floods in Larimer County.”
Donations can be made at www.NoCoFoundation.org, or by check made payable to the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, with "Flood Relief" and the specific fund in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to 4745 Wheaton Dr., Fort Collins, CO 80525.
9-19-13 by Melissa Schaaf, Northern Colorado Business Report.
The Bohemian Foundation has partnered with the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado and is matching funds donated to flood relief efforts. Dollar for dollar, the Bohemian Foundation will match funds up to $750,000 made by Oct. 31.
Three funds, created by the Community Foundation, will be the recipients of the Bohemian Foundation funds, potentially receiving a donation amount of up to $250,000 each.
Flood Relief: Estes Park and its canyon communities (Drake and above)
Flood Relief: Loveland and its canyon communities (below Drake)
Flood Relief: Poudre River communities
The Bohemian Foundation has been philanthropically active in the past concerning detrimental incidents, both on a national and local level. The Colorado flood hits close to home, and is no exception.
"This community was incredibly generous in answering Bohemian Foundation's challenge to contribute donations to the 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina disaster relief efforts in this same manner," Pat Stryker, founder of Fort Collins-based Bohemian Foundation, said in a statement. "Now let's turn our compassion back to our neighbors here at home and do the same for those who have suffered catastrophic losses from the recent, devastating floods in Larimer County."
Although some of the funds will be distributed for immediate flood relief efforts, others will be allocated for future restoration and to aid long-term flood relief.
"One thing we learned from the fires of 2012 is that there are two distinct needs to address in this type of disaster: immediate response needs and long-term needs," said Community Foundation President Ray Caraway in a statement. "The Community Foundation's Flood Relief funds are not designed to detract donors from the immediate local efforts; however, we understand that donors are also thinking about long-term implications of the flood on our regional resources and infrastructure."
Donations can be made at www.NoCoFoundation.org, or by check made payable to the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, with "Flood Relief" and the specific fund in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to 4745 Wheaton Dr., Fort Collins, CO 80525.
8-24-13 by Pat Stryker, Fort Collins Coloradoan.
When music legend Leon Russell slowly made his way onto the Mountain Avenue stage Sunday evening to perform at Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest, it was a touching moment. As he paused next to his piano to take in the sight of thousands of Colorado music fans cheering him on, the humble 71-year-old artist, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, raised his arms to the crowd to thank them for their kindness.
Friendly and welcoming — it was a recurring phrase I heard all last week to describe our community.
It started with the arrival of public school teachers from 22 cities across the country, including 24 Poudre School District teachers, for the first ever Little Kids Rock RockFest. The three-day conference was a gathering of enthusiastic teachers brought together to learn modern band techniques to foster the music maker in every child. I was truly inspired while sitting in the room with these dedicated educators.
And I heard repeatedly, “Everyone is so nice in Fort Collins.”
People singing Fort Collins’ praises continued into the weekend with Bohemian Nights. Musicians who performed at the festival were overwhelmed by the appreciation they felt.
Even Leon Russell’s crew said the reception they received was unusual, and Leon’s manager wrote to thank us after reflecting on the show. I’m so proud to be a part of a community who leaves such a lasting, positive impression.
Fort Collins’ support of musicians resonated across all six music stages and multiple generations of artists. As Air Dubai took the stage at Old Town Square on Saturday night, the Denver-based band was greeted by a very enthusiastic, packed house. When 12-year-old powerhouse Jaden Carlson of Boulder opened the day’s lineup at 11 that morning, a large number of savvy festival-goers gathered to see her.
Over and over again, you could see the gratitude on the performers’ faces.
But the encouragement didn’t flow just from fans to artists. Musicians were all about lending each other a hand. After their performances, many artists went from musician to music fan, standing in the crowd to support their favorite bands. And there were some great collaborations, too. The more established bands helped gain exposure for new and emerging talent. When newcomer Samuel Mouton from “The Voice” kicked off the festival Friday evening, he was accompanied on stage by seasoned artists Dayton Hicks and Max Barcelow of Fierce Bad Rabbit. When The Samples performed later that night, they invited SHEL to share the stage, to the surprise and delight of festival-goers.
The SHEL sisters began studying music at a young age. Singer-songwriter Jaden Carlson picked up the guitar at age 6. Leon Russell started playing piano when he was just 4 . Exposing children to music at an early age is vital to feeding their passion.
The highlight of the festival for me was at Kids’ Music Adventure. I saw children absorbed in music, fascinated by the different sounds instruments make, and experiencing the joy of music.
Thank you for supporting live music in Downtown Fort Collins and making this such a wonderful event. I’m especially excited for next year’s 10th Anniversary of Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest, so save the date: Aug. 15-17, 2014.
You won’t want to miss it!
Pat Stryker is president of the Bohemian Foundation.
8-5-13 by V. Richard Haro, Fort Collins Coloradoan.
Jolan Von Plutzner, 14, a sophomore at Poudre High School, paints a Colorado scene on a piano for the Pianos About Town program in Old Town Square Monday Aug. 5, 2013. She is the youngest person to be selected to paint a piano for the program.
8-5-13 by Coloradoan Editorial Board, Fort Collins Coloradoan.
Bohemian Foundation's navigator pilot program pairs employees with a problem-solving expert.
Relative stability is something many of us take for granted. Even if we’re living paycheck to paycheck, we generally know we can count on a vehicle to get us to work on time and get us home to a roof and a meal.
But no matter where we are in life, we aspire to be better.
Bohemian Foundation’s Bridges to Success program has spawned a creative pilot program to help people do just that. Its navigator plan partners employees at work with a problem-solving expert to help them achieve more stability and get more from life.
The theory is that, if an employee can get assistance finding child care, researching an affordable place to live or even just discussing a pre-DMV checklist to ensure they don’t have to make a second trip, that person will be more stable and satisfied at work.
And it appears to be working. Columbine Health Systems — the business that was selected to be a part of the pilot — has reported fewer written warnings and said employees are thrilled to have someone with these fact-finding skills aboard.
Navigator Sarah Morrison-Cohen said she’s helped Columbine employees from all walks of life solve all manner of problems, from how to get discount eyeglasses to financial advice for a two-income family that had just dropped to one income.
Despite the variety of issues she sees every day, Morrison-Cohen noted that the great unifier was advice on housing and the escalating cost of living in Fort Collins. Given that average rent has shot up more than $250 per month in just six years, helping people find affordable places to live is a critical need.
The navigator model is an evolving 2-year test. It was originally thought that the position would be useful for people as a crisis resource, but over time, it’s extended to just helping people live more satisfied lives.
After the trial period is over, Bohemian hopes to assist in a community rollout of a broader navigator plan, although details are still murky pending the conclusion of the test.
The hope is that businesses would chip in to “time share” a portion of an individual navigator’s time, and more resources would be added as need merits.
It’s a model very few communities have tried, and it’s a measure of our community’s commitment to helping people improve their lives that the test has gone well so far. If implemented well, the navigator concept could be another step in our continuum of services, from help breaking the cycle of poverty to building stability and richer lives.
Without a benefactor like the Bohemian Foundation, an experiment like this would have never gotten off the ground. Likewise, to Bohemian’s credit, it’s serving solely as an incubator for the idea and will likely allow it to take root in the community organically as the need arises.
We applaud its efforts in getting this approach rolled out to a community test, and we hope its eventual broadening is as successful as the pilot program.
5-11-13 by Sarah Jane Kyle, Fort Collins Coloradoan.
Sara Maranowicz is seven weeks into her new role as the Bohemian Foundation’s Community Programs director.
While this her first time in Fort Collins, arriving in Northern Colorado was “coming home” after growing up about an hour south of Fort Collins and attending the University of Colorado.
It’s all about community for Maranowicz, and she’s excited to learn more about ours and how she can make a difference.
Question: Welcome to Bohemian Foundation and Fort Collins. Why is this a good fit for you?
Answer: I have been involved in grant-making, nonprofit capacity-building, program management, youth development and community development for more than 12 years and I love this work. It’s not even a choice for me — this is the type of work I have to do. It was all about finding the right place to do it and it was time for me to come back to Colorado. Professionally, Bohemian is really focused on involving everybody in the community: businesses, the university, the school district, nonprofits, individuals, etc. Everybody is doing such important work and we’re a part of that. I love that approach. It’s also about personally working to make the world a better place. People ask me why I do this, and it’s because I want my work to have meaning and to improve the lives of others. That’s the mission and vision of the foundation as well, so it’s ideal for me.
Q: Where are you coming from?
A: Most recently I was living in Cambridge, England, and working in London to help set up a new national community development program. To boil it down, it was about supporting 150 different communities across the country in a resident-led initiative. Local people got to decide how to make their communities a better place to live. It was great. Working in communities across the United States and in England, I’ve learned that it’s all about finding the right partnerships and being really energized about what you are doing.
Q: How have the first seven weeks in your new role gone?
A: I couldn’t have planned a better first seven weeks. There have been three really great milestones for our team. Project Homeless Connect happened two or three weeks after I started. I think everybody should have that volunteer experience because it’s a great example of the community coming together (businesses, individuals, nonprofits, etc.). We had more than 400 student volunteers spend the day with us, and it was so focused on providing genuine, caring support to the homeless and near-homeless in this community. We also did the Pharos Fund review process for grants. Not only have I been reading and learning about the needs that are most important and how nonprofits are addressing them, but it also gave me an understanding of the thoughtfulness of that process from Bohemian. We put in a lot of time and dedication and consideration into each and every application. We also did some Bridges Out of Poverty trainings and workshops. In total, more than 300 people attended each of those workshops. We’ve done a lot in seven weeks.
Q: What’s next?
A: My biggest goal is to always keep learning about this community. You’re at your best when you’re aware of the different perspectives and needs that exist. I love saying that my job is always to keep learning. There are always new ways of thinking about things; and if you keep learning, you can come up with the best solutions.
Q: And are you acclimating to Ram Country?
A: It’s great. I love to run and all the trails in Fort Collins are fantastic. There are great restaurants. I’m new to town, so I’ve been learning about the community in all sorts of ways. It’s even better than I thought it would be — way better. This has a sense of being home. It snows in May ... that’s just good Colorado weather.
Sarah Jane Kyle is the Coloradoan reporter covering volunteerism, nonprofits and philanthropy. Follow her on Twitter @sarahjanekyle or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/reportersarahjane.
5-11-13 by Coloradoan Staff, Fort Collins Coloradoan.
Local nonprofits got a boost Saturday as the Bohemian Foundation announced recipients of its spring Pharos Fund grants.
In total, $533,215 was awarded to 35 Northern Colorado nonprofits providing community support in the areas of school readiness, literacy, science education, trauma training, sexual assault victim advocacy, emergency rent assistance, homelessness, food security and the arts, according to a Bohemian Foundation release. The Pharos Fund selects grant recipients through a competitive process each spring and fall. Individual grants ranged from $3,000 to $30,000.
Since its inception in 2001, the Bohemian Foundation has awarded approximately $12.5 million in Pharos Fund grants to nonprofits serving the Fort Collins area.
The Bohemian Foundation is Fort Collins billionaire Pat Stryker’s philanthropic organization, legally separate from Stryker’s for-profit Bohemian Cos. In addition to its community programs, it presents various music-related programs including the annual Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest, scheduled for Aug. 16-18 this year in Old Town Fort Collins. Click here for Recipients.
4-24-13 by Pat Stryker, Fort Collins Coloradoan.
Let me share a little secret about giving ... I give because it feels good.
By creating Bohemian Foundation, I have an extraordinary opportunity to financially support local nonprofits in the important work they do. However, I also get pleasure from spending a few hours swinging a hammer at Habitat for Humanity or spending a day playing hide-and-seek in the woods as a volunteer victim, crouched down and waiting quietly for in-training search and rescue dogs to sniff me out. I consider all these donations of time, talent and treasure, both big and small, meaningful.
Too often, philanthropy is seen as a check-writing practice, something done only by the wealthy. But this is a myth, especially in Fort Collins. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy in a special report released last year titled "How America Gives," middle-income households donate a bigger share of their disposable income each year to charity than the wealthy. In addition, the report shows us that households in Fort Collins gave $82.5 million to charity in 2008, ranking the city an impressive 173 out of more than 11,500 cities studied. While that's a strong sign of our community's commitment to helping others, it doesn't tell the whole story.
From small acts to large financial gifts, there is a social value to giving that can't be easily measured. Sharing a smile or opening the door for a stranger only costs you a few seconds. Buying coffee for the person standing behind you in line requires a couple of dollars, if you have it to spare. It might inspire that person to pay it forward in their own way to someone else.
And did I mention that giving feels good?
We can rethink and redefine the whole concept of giving in our community. Everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status or age, can touch the lives of others in positive ways. The reality is that each of us has the ability to live generously even though we might differ in how and how much we give. In Fort Collins, we are building a culture of giving.
We see evidence of it all around us.More and more local employers such as OtterBox and New Belgium look beyond profits to make philanthropy and social responsibility an integral part of their business models. "Give Next" is a new program by United Way of Larimer County and Bohemian Foundation being piloted in five Poudre School District middle and high schools. The program, which also is supported by several other local businesses and foundations, is designed to educate students about the vital role of nonprofits and philanthropy. The Colorado Nonprofit Association recently singled out the Coloradoan among dozens of news outlets across the state to receive its Excellence in Media Award for the newspaper's "Causes" reporting. CommunityFunded.com has created new opportunities for impactful micro-giving at the community level through its social funding website.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
The power of philanthropy comes from the impact of many individuals investing in their community in whatever way they can, whether that's $10, ten hours of volunteering, or ten acts of kindness. If we rethink philanthropy, everyone can find a meaningful way to be included.
So, I challenge you to give because it feels good and because you can.
Pat Stryker is the founder of the Bohemian Foundation.
3-15-13 by Ricardo Baca, Denver Post.
It's not uncommon to see people wearing a locally printed "Bikes, Beer and Bands" T-shirt on the streets of Fort Collins or walkways of Colorado State University.
We already know about the city's kinship with beer and bikes.
But bands? In Fort Collins? Sure enough, the northern Colorado city of 150,000 has surpassed Boulder in the past few years as the state's most vital producer of music outside of Denver.
And Fort Collins' broad musical presence at this year's South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, seals the deal.
"There's a certain kind of magic here," said Dani Grant, a Fort Collins business owner and local music supporter. "Maybe it's the mix of college students and grad students and old hippies and young hipsters? Maybe it's all the beer?"
The smell of fermented hops isn't the only thing in Fort Collins' air. Live music seems to be everywhere. The word is spreading, too, thanks to the bands writing and playing original music, an arts-friendly city government that nurtures it, and an extensive network of supporters that includes Grant and local billionaire philanthropist Pat Stryker.
"New talent is rising up in Fort Collins, and it's exciting to see this next generation emerge," Stryker told The Post last week. "Music is simply everywhere in Fort Collins, from painted pianos on the streets to kids discovering the magic of music to hundreds of bands showing up at (local music festival) FoCoMX last year."
And they're taking it on the road.
Since 2009, Grant has thrown a Fort Collins-focused day party at the massive South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, via her nonprofit SpokesBuzz. On Friday, the organization will host its fifth annual party at SXSW, the country's most influential music-industry event, which runs through Sunday.
Even though the party will cost SpokesBuzz $25,000, Grant sees it as a big step up to Trichome, the Lindsey O'Brien Band, the Stone Foxes, Better Than Bacon and the other participating musicians.
"Going through that process ... it's eye-opening for the bands that are pre-management, pre-regional touring," said Grant, who had an estimated 2,000 fans at her 2012 SXSW party. "It makes a band really question if they're committed."
"In a historical perspective, Boulder was that (important) place for a long time," said Chris Kresge, who has worked for three radio stations, held a liquor license, played in bands, emceed festival stages and worked in many clubs since moving to northern Colorado in 1986.
"Now, Fort Collins has become the place outside of the Denver metro where there's an infrastructure and a vibe and a sense of things happening," Kresge said.
Fort Collins-area acts worth knowing include indie folkers You Me & Apollo, uke-swinger Danielle Ate the Sandwich, Johnny Hickman (of the band Cracker), indie rockers Fierce Bad Rabbit, freak-pop pioneers Candy Claws, punk heroes Descendents and DJ/producer Pretty Lights (a.k.a. Derek Vincent Smith), whoheadlined the SnowBall Music Festival in Winter Parklast weekend. (Smith recently relocated to Denver.)
Grant's for-profit businesses and nonprofit, along with Stryker's foundation, are the backbone of the city's event infrastructure, with the three-day Bohemian Nights at New West Fest leading the way every August. There's also the two-day FoCoMX festival every April. Both events featuring 100 to 200 acts, mostly locals. It helps, too, that the number of live-music venues in the city has doubled in the past dozen years, and now the popular KRFC plays 100 current local titles per month, Kresge said.
A couple of downtown music series keep the live music up every week during the summer, including Thursday Night Live (running May-August) and Friday Concerts on Old Town Square, not to mention a slew of other music-inclusive events, from the Colorado Brewers' Festival to FORTober Fest.
"The creative class happens to be a mantra that starts in our community at the highest level of city government," said Michael Short, executive director of the Downtown Fort Collins Business Association, which produces and co-produces most of the events that happen downtown.
Sure enough, the city backs up its talk with money and support.
"We like to use the metaphor, 'We punch out of our weight class in the (arts and culture) category,' " said Josh Birkes, the city's economic-health director. "We've picked a few parts of industry that we see us having competitive advantages in — clean energy, water innovation, hardware development — and another one is Uniquely Fort Collins, where we try to grab that X factor that makes Fort Collins Fort Collins. Under that umbrella, we can support organizations such as SpokesBuzz."
The city's $25,000 matching grant to Grant's SpokesBuzz helps finance the annual band- swap program that sends local acts on the road in an exchange program of sorts. Last year's program sent Fort Collins acts to Lafayette, La.; Portland, Ore.; Boise, Idaho; Milwaukee; and Memphis, Tenn. — and welcomes bands from those cities to Fort Collins.
"That's been much richer than the South by Southwest experience," said Grant, "though I don't discount the fact that going to South by Southwest is still important."
1-22-13 by Colorado State University College of Liberal Arts, News & Events.
Colorado State University is pleased to announce a partnership with Bohemian Foundation to bring the new Contemporary Artist Music Series to the University Center for the Arts. The series will feature local bands SHEL on Feb. 7, 8 p.m.; Danielle Ate the Sandwich on Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m.; SuperCollider on Mar. 13, 7:30 p.m.; Branden Sipes on Apr. 3, 7:30 p.m.; and Dakota Blonde on Apr.18, 7:30 p.m. at the University Center for the Arts, located at 1400 Remington St.
Tickets are $7 for CSU students, $1 for youth (under 17) and $12 for the public. Tickets are available at the University Center for the Arts (UCA) Ticket Office in the UCA Griffin Lobby, by phone at (970) 491-2787, or online at CSUArtsTickets.com. Advance purchase is recommended to avoid at-the-door fees.
The artists and groups in this inaugural season of the new series share the common thread of local flair, featuring CSU alumni in each concert.
“This series is an exciting way to feature local musicians and CSU alumni in an intimate setting,” said Kristin Karabensh, Director of Music Programs at Bohemian Foundation. “In furtherance of Bohemian Foundation’s music mission, we support this series as a means of increasing the amount of live contemporary music performances in Fort Collins and encouraging audience and community support of local musicians.”
Not only will the series highlight home-grown artists, it will also serve a valuable role in educating students in different music styles.
2-5-13 by Madeline Novey, Fort Collins Coloradoan.
In its first year, the United Way pilot program gathers partners from Bohemian Foundation, local donors and Poudre School District to expose students to a world of giving.
An internal battle brewed within 13-year-old Karson Maitland as she looked down upon her new gray and orange Nike tennis shoes.
A closed office door separated the athletic Lesher Middle School eighth-grader from an adjacent room where about half a dozen clients of the Sister Mary Alice Murphy Center for Hope typed on computers, some wearing what Maitland described as ragged shoes and socks, compared to her own kicks. Some of the men and women were on the brink of losing their home; others already had.
Grant Gruber, 13, shared in his classmate’s conflicting feelings of shame and appreciation.
A daylong trip to the Fort Collins advocacy center made him realize what he considers garbage “could be someone’s prize” — a torn jacket or worn hiking boots turned barriers against bitter cold. But it also made he and Maitland grateful for what they have and warmed their hearts to the idea of lifelong giving.
The pair are among 18 Lesher students taking part in United Way’s three-year pilot called Give Next. The program takes an adapted, service-learning curriculum and institutes it in local classrooms; four other Poudre School District middle and high schools are participating.
1-13-13 by Sarah Jane Kyle, Fort Collins Coloradoan.
If you’re an employee of Columbine Health Systems, Sarah Morrison-Cohen wants you to know that she’s in your corner.
Whether it’s a car that keeps breaking down, financial struggles or personal matters, she’s going to do everything she can to connect you to the resources you need to solve your problems and let you focus on work.
And it’s completely confidential.
Morrison-Cohen is the first of her kind: a navigator. Employed by Larimer County Workforce Center through a grant by the Bohemian Foundation, she’s stationed at Columbine Health Systems, which has about 1,100 senior residents receiving medical and other aid and housing, as part of a pilot program of Bridges to Success.
The idea is that by addressing issues that impact an employee’s ability to work and by taking a more personal approach than provided by a human resources office, Morrison-Cohen can keep more low-wage earners in a job and moving up in a job. The concept is intended to prevent and stop the cycle of poverty.
“It takes the issues that all employers see like tardiness and absenteeism and allows you to see them for what they are: symptoms of underlying problems,” she said. “It has the potential to change how businesses work by having a person
that can address personal issues that affect the workplace ... it makes sustainable change.”
She’s been in the job for about four months now, and though she says there always will be a few “hiccups” in people adjusting to the idea, her efforts are showing great potential. “I think that there’s a little discomfort in people in general in looking for help,” she said. “People have a hesitance to ask for assistance and that makes sense — I can be the same way.”
Gina DiGiallonardo, administrator for the New Mercer Commons assisted living site at Columbine Health Systems, said that though she’ll never know which of her employees have seen the navigator or what assistance they’ve received, she’s already seen a marked difference in how her staff operates. “The benefit to us is being able to show our employees that we have a vested interest in their well-being,” DiGiallonardo said. “You don’t want someone bringing their personal issues to work, but the reality is that some of our employees do have things going on at home. This gives me a resource to send them to without personally getting involved.”
That referral allows her to “do the right thing” and allows Columbine to help their employees while still maintaining a professional distance.
“As a manager, the right thing is not getting involved in someone’s life,” she said. “I can’t delve into their life or figure out how to help them, but now I have someone I know I can trust that can help them ... my employees know I care (because of that) and when employees know you care about them, they work harder for you.”
The navigator position is one of many community shifts Sarah Hach, who oversaw the Bridges Out of Poverty program before moving out of state this December, said the Fort Collins community can expect this year. Bridges to Success is now more than a year old. While the past year has been spent making the community aware and informed on issues of poverty, she hopes that in coming months the community will “take charge” and apply the knowledge to their spheres of influence. More than 1,300 people were exposed to the Bridges Out of Poverty through formal trainings in 2012.
“The groundwork has been laid, but we as Bohemian never wanted to ‘do onto’ the community,” Hach said. “We wanted to expose the community to these issues and then, if it resonated with them, let them own it. This is the year the community will own this.” And as that happens, she’s excited to hear just how much the community has changed and evolved. Hach said she’s confident to leave the program in the hands of Fort Collins.“You’re going to start to see the ripple effect,” she said. “Focus on community and supporting it.”
A snapshot view:
During the week of Dec. 10-14, Navigator Sarah Morrison-Cohen...
• Enrolled two new participants in her program.
• Had a total of 55 participants in her database.
• Had 83 percent of her clients show up for their appointments.
• Addressed mainly holiday help, mental health and housing issues.
Information provided by Columbine Health Systems
Fall 2012, Bohemian Foundation.
We are at a critical crossroads in the fight against poverty in Larimer County, and now is the time to embrace innovation and new approaches in finding solutions. The percent of children living in poverty in the county has increased at a faster rate than we have seen nationally, up a disturbing 80 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While the percent of seniors living in poverty across the nation has declined slightly over the same decade, the rate has gone up more than 40 percent in Larimer County. The overall percent of individuals living in poverty in our community has risen from 9.2 percent in 2000 to 14 percent by 2010, with the county once again outpacing the rate of change on a national scope.
In November 2011, our community started down a path to rethink our basic assumptions about poverty and explore new strategies to affect change through two promising initiatives: Bridges out of Poverty Northern Colorado and Circles Larimer County.
10-30-12 by Lauren Stiertiz of Poudre School District, as printed in Fort Collins Coloradoan.
Spending time with horses is helping students at Lincoln Middle School transform their lives as they learn leadership and life skills they need to be successful academically and at home.
“We learn to help the horses and then when we go home we can help people there and help people at school,” said seventh-grader Graciella Hernandez. Once a week, sixth- and seventh-grade students at risk of dropping out of school leave the classroom to brush, bathe and run horses through a program called the Open Door Project. The project, funded through a $20,000 Pharos Fund grant from the Bohemian Foundation, began three years ago as a partnership between Lincoln Middle School, an International Baccalaureate School, and equine-assisted life skills coaches Pia Jansen and Jill Cantor Lee.
Lincoln school counselor Jose Sandoval said the Open Door Project gives students a chance to incorporate leadership skills they learn by working with and caring for horses into other parts of their lives. “I can say that 100 percent of these students are walking away as better human beings because of what they’re able to reflect upon with the horses,” he said. Sandoval believes the program has completely transformed students who were once falling behind. “These kids could’ve said no to equine but they said yes, so that tells me they do want to better themselves,” he said. “I’m very proud of them.” In addition to caring for the horses, the students are given individual and group challenges each week. “We are leaders with the horses, and — when we come back to school — we are leadersthere,” seventh-grader Juan Gomez agreed. Another seventh-grader, Jesus Vargas, added: “Not followers.” Through the Open Door Project, local businesses may sponsor the students through funding, by hosting a lunch, hanging a picture of them on the wall and by sending the message that they are important members of the community. Anyone in the community can get involved, Sandoval said.