Community booster hits 20-year mark
More than 200 donors and community leaders celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Western Colorado Community Foundation at a luncheon Tuesday at the Colorado Mesa University ballroom.
It’s a milestone that shows the incredible generosity of the community and is something everyone should be proud of, said Anne Wenzel, foundation president and executive director, as she addressed the large crowd.
The foundation began in 1997 as a grassroots effort among local leaders to support endeavors to improve western Colorado communities.
Today, it has $60 million in total assets and 231 donor funds, serves seven counties, gives grant funding to 180 local nonprofit organizations and has awarded $662,000 in student scholarships.
In total, WCCF has given more than $15 million in grants and scholarships since its inception, Wenzel said.
“This is a tremendously generous community and this foundation has been built to outlive all of us,” Wenzel said.
Keynote speaker Tim Schultz, president of the Boettcher Foundation and a Grand Valley native, said it was remarkable for a foundation to have grown so successfully in a short amount of time.
“To reach 20 years is a major milestone and to see this growth is just phenomenal — it’s a testament to those living in western Colorado,” Schultz said.
He reminded the guests not to take any of the local amenities for granted because they were the cumulative effort of generations of western Coloradans.
“This community was not built from the outside but from the inside,” Schultz said. “Almost everything we take for granted today came from dollars given by this community and raised in this community.”
The foundation proves that a lot of small organizations can come together and make a big impact, he said.
Schultz challenged the foundation to set the bar high with a goal of raising $300 million in the next 20 years.
Wenzel said the organization has an official goal of raising $75 million by 2020.
Schultz, who plans to retire in July, was surprised at the luncheon with his own $200,000 namesake fund that will give $10,000 per year in rural philanthropy in western Colorado.
“I’m speechless,” he said. “It has been my privilege and honor to have been a part of the Boettcher Foundation and I couldn’t have been given a better gift.”
Also in honor of the 20th anniversary, WCCF will award a number of high impact grants to several local nonprofits that can demonstrate a new and innovative solution to meet a community need.
These 20th Anniversary Fund grants were made possible by a $50,000 challenge grant from the Boettcher Foundation which will match funds from WCCF donors.
Two anniversary fund grants have been given to the Community Alliance for Education and Hunger Relief and to a collaborative effort between the Grand Junction Housing Authority and the Division of Youth Corrections for their micro-house pilot program.
More information is available at wc-cf.org.