It’s no secret, 2020 had been a tough year for many nonprofits. Some have experienced more need and more clients than ever before, while others have had to completely change their service structure or manner of operations. Many have had to cancel events and lay off or furlough employees. The one common factor among all nonprofits is that it is hard to plan for 2021 and confidently approve future budgets.

With such uncertainty, the Telluride Foundation received 67 Community Grant requests seeking financial relief totaling $1,307,990. The Telluride Foundation’s Community Grants are an annual financial boost to regional nonprofits, supporting many critical services for families and programs that enrich the community, according to a news release. These grants, now more than ever, will be essential to many nonprofits seeking to help the regional community get through the pandemic next year.

The Telluride Foundation Board of Directors recently approved its annual Community Grant awards, giving $965,000 to regional nonprofits. This year, the foundation partnered with two donor advised funds, the Saul Zaentz Foundation and the Hermitage Fund, to increase its grant awards for specific nonprofits. These grants will be distributed to organizations working every day to improve the quality of life in the communities of Nucla and Naturita, Norwood, Telluride, Rico, Ridgway, Ouray, and everywhere in between.

“Awarding these grants seems more important than ever before,” said April Montgomery, vice president of programs at the Telluride Foundation. “Every application expressed more need, more passion, and more urgency than in the past; as a whole, our nonprofit community is so incredibly dedicated, and it’s an honor to be able to support the work they do because of our extremely generous donors.”

On Dec. 29, the foundation’s board met to finalize this year’s awards, which combined with other programs and initiatives, brings the total invested in the region in 2020 to just over $5.2 million. Since its inception in 2000, the Telluride Foundation has provided over $70 million in grants and other financial support to the Telluride region; all without an endowment.

“While every year our task of making grant awards is difficult, this year was exceptionally difficult. We were missing our colleague Adam Max, who passed away this year, and the requests of health and human service organizations to meet the impact of COVID-19 were extensive. Community organizations needed us more than ever this year,” said Sara Bachman, Telluride Foundation board member and chair of the grants committee. “I’m proud of the commitment of our grants committee and the decisions we made. Additionally, I am very proud of all of the nonprofit organizations that we serve and their resiliency and innovation while weathering this pandemic.”

In its 2020 annual Community Grants cycle, the foundation received 67 applications seeking over $1.3 million. Grant awards ranged from $500 to $155,066, with 39 percent going to health and human services; 21 percent funding arts and culture; 17 percent to early childhood development; 11 percent to education; 7 percent to the environment and animals; and 5 percent to athletic groups.

“With our 20th anniversary in 2020, we want to especially celebrate the work of community nonprofits and acknowledge the critical work they do,” said Paul Major, president and CEO of the Telluride Foundation. “We have come a long way from our first grant cycle in 2001, where we gave 16 organizations just over $150,000. We are all incredibly fortunate to have the amazing generosity of so many donors who have supported the community for so many years.”

The Telluride Foundation’s Community Grant award recommendations were drafted by a six-member committee comprised of foundation board members. The committee evaluated the grant requests against a rigorous set of criteria this year, emphasizing human service and health needs due to COVID-19, and then forwarded their recommendations for funding to the full board for review and final approval. The Grants Committee is Sara Bachman, Arnie Chavkin, Karen Conway, DeeDee Decker, Jesse Johnson and Ximena Rebolledo-Leon. 

The foundation’s next round of local grant applications will be accepted in October 2021 and announced at the end of December 2021.The foundation’s generous donors not only enable its annual Community Grant awards but have allowed the foundation to expand its funding and the reach of its impact initiatives, including Telluride Venture Accelerator, broadband expansion, local food, family emergency Good Neighbor Fund and Strong Neighbors. This year, donors raised an additional $1.2 million for the COVID-19 Response Fund to provide hardship assistance grants to individuals and families, and emergency grants to nonprofits on the frontline of the pandemic.

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