Western Colorado Community Foundation: 25 years of making a difference

Twenty-five years ago, a “home-grown” charitable foundation was established to serve the people and the communities of Mesa, Garfield, Eagle, Delta, Montrose, Ouray and Rio Blanco counties. The vastness and diversity of the geographic area that the Western Colorado Community Foundation serves is matched by the variety of causes it supports: from fighting hunger to providing programming for youth; arts, culture and animals — to conservation, outdoor recreation and the environment. And more. 

Growing from its founder’s vision in 1997, the organization now manages $115 million in total assets. President and CEO Anne Wenzel describes the Western Colorado Community Foundation (WCCF) as a regional charitable foundation built “by the people of western Colorado, for the people of western Colorado”. It provides permanent funding for many important nonprofits and now claims its place as one of the largest charitable foundations on Colorado’s Western Slope. On average, the WCCF distributes about $5 million in grants and scholarships annually.

“We have the unique power to engage people who care with causes that matter,” says Anne. “We identify unmet needs in the community, then design new projects and provide funding to meet those needs.”

An example is the summer mobile meals program in Mesa County. Over half the children in the local school district qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, a measure of poverty and hunger. These kids receive breakfast and lunch at school during the school year, and weekend backpacks with food on the weekend. But the gap in summer was deeply concerning. So eight years ago the WCCF introduced the Lunch Lizard mobile meals program to provide a free, nutritious hot meal in neighborhoods, parks and playgrounds during non-school months. Last summer almost 30,000 meals were served along two routes.

Anne cites Alpine Bank as a foundational supporter who not only helped get the organization started 25 years ago, but has continued to help along the way with office space, financial and board support.  

As the team looks to the future, they talk about “dreaming forward”. They’re well-positioned to continue their good work, with programming and infrastructure set up for the long term.

“We work with incredibly generous people every day — people who want to give back,” says Anne. “Our staff team and board members are passionate about helping donors direct impactful gifts toward needs and provide resources to make our communities better.”

Learn more at wc-cf.org.

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