Telluride Foundation: Supporting Workers/Families Impacted by Covid-19 Uptick!

Telluride Foundation: Supporting Workers/Families Impacted by Covid-19 Uptick!

The coronavirus is a shared (and daunting) greater Telluride community experience. The effects on the economy and health are unprecedented. Frequently Asked Questions about the Telluride Foundation’s Covid-19 Response Fund. Click HERE to make a donation or contact Katie Singer at (970) 729-1807 or

For more info on COVIDCheck Colorado, go here.

Katie Singer’s Covid-19 Response Fund update follows.

The economic recession caused by COVID-19 may have ended for many high-wage workers, but it persists for low-wage workers, many of whom have lost jobs and remain unemployed.

While employment rates have rebounded to nearly pre-COVID levels for high-wage workers, they remain significantly lower for low-wage workers. Federal and state benefit programs helped many get by over the summer, but some residents were not eligible and, moreover, these programs will be expiring at the end of the year. According to the New York Times, a study found that over 7 million workers will lose their benefits with the end of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides coverage for gig workers, the self-employed, and independent contractors. An additional 4.6 million will be cut off from Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which kicks in when state employment benefits run out.

In Colorado, the wages of workers making $60,000 and more annually have only decreased by 1.4% since January 2020; however, the wages of those making $27,000 and less are down over 18%. The Telluride region is no different. While government sales tax is up and real estate transfer tax collections is at an all-time high, many families and workers, especially lower-wage service workers, are in deep financial stress.

The Telluride Foundation is acutely aware of this stress because of its Good Neighbor financial assistance program. This program has been providing emergency assistance for locals for over 15 years.  Administered through Tri-County Health Network, Good Neighbor provides grants of up to $1,500 for urgent needs, including rent, utilities, transportation, medical expenses, and/or food.

This year, on March 16th, the Telluride Foundation pivoted from its traditional efforts to support the region and planning its 20th Anniversary to assessing critical human needs as the result of the pandemic and implementing a response plan.

Some of the highlights of the Foundation’s COVID-19 response plan included:

•   Established the COVID-19 Response Fund, raising over $1,150,000 to date.

•   Expanded the Good Neighbor financial assistance program, providing over $800,000 in cash assistance for rent, food, medicine, and mental health support to over 500 individuals and families thus far.

•   In partnership with Tri-County Heath Network’s bilingual/bicultural staff, assisted clients with not only Good Neighbor hardship grants but also in navigating additional government and community support.

•   Created an emergency grants pool and distributed $320,000 in emergency grants to healthcare, food assistance, volunteer organizing, and internet access organizations.

•   Foundation staff developed expertise on the federal CARES Act to help nonprofit and for-profit businesses obtain maximum funding to keep their organizations afloat.

•   Foundation staff became experts on new federal and state unemployment benefits and assisted nonprofits, for-profits and individuals.

•   Helped 5,300 small businesses manage the impacts of COVID-19 via webinars and one-on-one consulting.

•   Initiated an internal equity capacity building effort that includes diversity, equity, & inclusion training for all staff and grantees.

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

•   Led a collaboration with Tri-County Health Network and five regional school districts to launch “COVIDCheck Colorado,” providing baseline and ongoing COVID-19 testing of teachers and staff.

In past years, the Foundation might have provided $40,000 for Good Neighbor assistance grants. This year, the Foundation has already deployed twenty times that amount; applications spiked in April with immediate lay-offs due to COVID-19 and again in September, as individuals and families exhausted all of their federal and state benefits. Grant applications are again rising, many from people who need repeated assistance as they remain unemployed or furloughed.

Although the majority of Good Neighbor grants are made to people who live and work in Telluride, grants have also been made to individuals living in Rico, Norwood, the west ends of San Miguel and Montrose counties, and Ouray and Ridgway through the Ouray County Response Fund. Good Neighbor recipients vary, from long-term locals to newer residents; from seniors to immigrants. However, a common story among many is the fact that this is the first time they have ever needed or received financial assistance and they are extremely grateful.

Tri-County Health Network and its team of in-take staff have worked closely with county social service departments and other organizations to help recipients with as many resources for which they qualify. Rent represents the largest need of Good Neighbor requests, accounting for about 71.5% of funds. Also, through the Good Neighbor assistance program, San Miguel County provides targeted grants for mental health services, and the Town of Telluride provided rent assistance for town-owned properties.

The Telluride Foundation:

Telluride Foundation exists to create a stronger Telluride and regional community through the promotion and support of philanthropy. 2020 marks 20 years of making more possible through the Telluride Foundation’s commitment to enrich the quality of life of the residents, visitors, and workforce of the Telluride region.

The Telluride Foundation is a nonprofit, apolitical community foundation that makes grants to nonprofits, owns and operates programs that meet emerging and unmet community needs, and makes investments. The Foundation approaches this work through the lens of its core values of inclusion, self-reliance, and innovation. Its work is funded through the generous support of individual donors as well as grants from state and national foundations.

The Foundation hopes the community will join it in celebrating its 20th anniversary as it honors the nonprofits, donors, and community members who have all partnered together to achieve a significant positive impact on the region.

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