Telluride Foundation: COVID Response Work – Doing Our Part!

Telluride Foundation: COVID Response Work – Doing Our Part!

COVID-19 hit us all suddenly last March. The impacts, in a small community like Telluride and our neighboring towns, caused multiple levels of distress and crisis not only regarding our health, but for individuals, businesses, and nonprofits. We want to reflect on how the Telluride Foundation met this challenge over the last seven months.


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Although we believe we did our part, we do not think, by any means, that we are done. The work continues. We will continue to be persistent and tenacious to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our community and provide leadership moving forward.

In mid-March, the Telluride Foundation established the COVID-19 Response Fund, expanded the eligibility and reach of the Good Neighbor financial assistance program to ensure access to those disproportionately impacted by COVID, and created an emergency grants pool for healthcare, food assistance, volunteer organizing, and internet access organizations. To date, the Foundation has raised over $1,150,000 for the Response Fund, distributing $320,000 in emergency grants to organizations and $628,000 in Good Neighbor cash assistance for rent, food, medicine, and mental health support to 435 individuals and families.

We are very proud of the donors, staff, and board who set the stage for a sustained response, allowing us to do our part:

March 16, the Foundation staff immediately pivoted to assess critical human needs and then, implement a plan to respond to these community needs.

The Executive Committee meet monthly to monitor the crisis and direct resources, forming an Emergency Grants Committee for rapid decision-making, responding to health and human service nonprofit needs, usually within 24 hours.

Provided emergency grants to organizations addressing COVID impacts through healthcare, food assistance, volunteer organizing, and internet access.

Provided Good Neighbor hardship assistance grants to the most vulnerable in our community.
Added mental health services as a potential need that could be funded by Good Neighbor assistance.

In partnership with Tri-County Heath Network staff, coupled Good Neighbor hardship grants with bilingual/bicultural staff navigation to assist clients in accessing government and community support and programs.

Deployed staff to become experts on the federal CARES Act, disseminating information and providing technical assistance to nonprofits and for-profits. Staff initiated and hosted weekly resource calls for nonprofits and for-profit leaders to share best practices and information.

Deployed staff to become experts on new federal and state unemployment benefits for employers and employees, disseminating information and providing technical assistance for nonprofit and for-profits.

Became a clearinghouse for regular and clear information on fundraising resources, critical human needs, and community based news.

Tri-County Health Network led expanded outreach efforts and events around mental health, suicide prevention, food resources, while at the same time assisting with the Census for our hard to reach neighbors.

Led a collaboration with Tri-County Health Network and five regional school districts to launch COVID-19 baseline and on-going testing for school staff.

With your help, we are doing our part, and we will continue to do more. Thank you for supporting us to make more possible.

Regional Coalition Receives $200,000 Colorado Health Foundation Grant

During 2020 and the recent pandemic, food insecurity has, unfortunately, become a new reality for many, nationwide as well as close to home. In recent months, some San Miguel County residents relied on local food banks for the first time in their lives. With this new reality, funding from the Colorado Health Foundation to help address regional food insecurity comes at the perfect time. The Telluride Foundation recently received a $200,000 grant on behalf of local organizations working in food insecurity to help break down silos to ensure community members have healthy and fresh foods and the power to improve the local food system. The “Food Security Coalition,” developed as part of this grant, will seek to decrease hunger, increase the quality of food, and position organizations to become more equitable and diverse to best represent the communities in which they are serve.

This “Reducing Food Insecurity and Inequity” Initiative will implement several new and existing programs, including 1) working with local libraries to provide resource guides to ensure everybody is aware of their options and is getting the food assistance they need; 2) hiring a bi-cultural/bi-lingual food bank coordinator to assist with increased demand as well as outreach to the Latinx community; 3) hiring a food security coordinator to better connect fresh food to food assistance programs, including connecting local produce at the Fresh Food Hub to food banks and school backpack programs through a whole-sale website and facilitating a “Grow-a-Row” program to increase production of local produce for food security programs; and 4) continuing Coalition meetings to enable better collaboration and communication.

Click HERE to read more.

Meet David Bruce

David Bruce

David Bruce joined Telluride Foundation staff on October 1st to manage our Rural Affordable Housing Initiative. This Initiative will strive to build housing projects in neighboring communities to support teachers and the workforce. David will staff local community committees and serve as a liaison between the developer, Foundation, and communities. David is a recent graduate of a joint degree in Architecture and Environmental Management (M.Arch/M.E.M) at Yale University. During his four year masters program, he was involved with the design and construction of affordable housing for families who had previously experienced homelessness and became interested in the environmental and ecological benefits of timber construction. Last summer (2019), he worked with Peruvian Architects, Barclay Crousse Arquitectos on a competition winning proposal for a center for water management in the Sacred Valley of Peru.

Click HERE to read more.

The Foundation’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Now more than ever, we are proud of the community nonprofits and organizations that work daily to reduce inequities in our health, education, social welfare, and basic democratic systems. However, we know that our work is not finished, in fact it is just beginning, and at the Telluride Foundation we will continue to challenge ourselves to be more inclusive, engage in necessary conversation, and be part of the change that may need to occur in our communities.

With that commitment, we will begin by requiring that all Foundation staff participate in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) training, and we will also require the same training for our 2021 grantees. The Foundation will pay for DEI training for one executive staff or board chair for every grantee.

Recognizing our 20th Anniversary During the Pandemic

While 2020 is the Foundation’s 20th anniversary, we’ve pivoted our focus from parties and celebration to rolling up our sleeves and addressing the immediacy of community needs, including emergency assistance to individuals and nonprofits, business support, and COVID testing. We had planned a celebration to honor local nonprofits and Foundation grantees in September, which was canceled. Instead staff prepared gift bags for all past grantees filled with local coffee, tea, and chocolate and a message stating, “We wake up every morning in appreciation of all the great work you do, so wanted to share a little early morning treat… we know 2020 has been tough. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to our community.”

Staff has also been working on its 20th year Impact Report. We have delayed its publication until November but are excited to share it with you sometime around Thanksgiving! While our anniversary year isn’t what we had expected, we believe that the knowledge and experience we’ve had over the past 20 years put us in the position to effectively and quickly respond to the pandemic, supporting those most effected by the economic impacts.

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