More than 250 people descended on Lamar to attend Southeast Colorado Rural Philanthropy Days, June 13 through June 15.  The conference was an opportunity for nonprofits and local governments to participate in professional development and relationship building.  Kaye Kasza, Event Coordinator, and Susan Waring served on the steering committee which spent more than a year and 2000 hours raising money and planning the event.  This program brings together rural Coloradans and Denver based funders who support non-profit organizations.  It allows the funders to get out of Denver and see first hand the problems of rural communities.

In 2014, the rural areas received only 3,420 grants totaling $68,066,389 as compared to Urban areas which received 15,847 grants of $578,400,499.  However grants for rural areas have increased considerable since Rural Philanthropy Days began.

On opening day,  Foundation representatives were given a tour of the Ft Lyon Supportive Residential Community.  The former VA hospital/state prison has been repurposed to provide recovery-oriented transitional housing to homeless individuals along with peer support, educational, vocational and employment services  for approximately 200 persons from around Colorado with emphasis on homeless veterans.  The program is a collaborative effort of State and local community involvement to meet the needs of the homeless.

Workshops covering grant writing, economic development strategies for Southeast Colorado, collaborations, grassroot fundraising, engagement of youth and volunteers to build today’s community, and other important information were available to the conference attendees. 

On the final day, Funder Roundtables were held, where representatives of nonprofits presented their organization’s project to a foundation representative and then received feedback on the feasibility of the project and if the project matched the foundation’s funding priorities.     

Kim MacDonnell, Bent County Commissioner, along with Cynthia Nieb,  La Junta Economic Development Director and Tara Marshall, City of Trinidad,  were presenters at a workshop on “Community and Economic Development Strategies in Southeast Colorado.”

Among local residents attending the conference were Jennifer Godfrey, Economic Development Foundation Director, Elsie Goines, Las Animas Superintendent of Schools, Susan Waring, School District Communication Officer, Alisha Hall, John Thomas, Deb Peterson, Boggsville site grant writer and Nancy Gerlock, Bent County Historical Society Board member.

Baca, Bent, Crowley, Huerfano, Kiowa, Las Animas, Otero and Prowers Counties were represented at this year’s conference.