Steamboat Springs, CO – In March 2020, in a matter of weeks, our daily lives changed dramatically as the global pandemic drove closures of schools and businesses. As is frequently the case when confronted with a crisis, our community looked to the Yampa Valley Community Foundation (YVCF) for help. YVCF acted swiftly, working in coordination with other foundations in our region, to open the COVID-19 Response Fund. The Fund served as a vehicle for accepting donations and enabled rapid direction of those funds to where they were most needed. The outpouring of generosity we witnessed was staggering. In less than four months, the Fund received donations from over 300 individuals and awarded 51 grants totaling $399,694. The grants were directed to nonprofit organizations and government agencies on the front lines of COVID-19 prevention, containment and response, and were specifically aimed at supporting the Yampa Valley region’s most vulnerable and impacted populations.
The Foundation convened a volunteer granting committee consisting of dedicated community members and nonprofit partners to administer the grants. The committee worked with local nonprofits to proactively identify potential grant recipients, solicit guidance on potential recipients from community advisors, review applications, and recommend final awards. Grants were made to organizations serving people whose health and safety were especially impacted by this public health crisis, including older adults, the medically vulnerable, those at risk of intimate partner violence, food or housing insecure, homeless, students, and more. The grantees included longstanding Foundation partners as well as organizations the Foundation has not previously funded. The grantees varied in type, size and scope, but together, they shared a collective goal to keep the Yampa Valley healthy and vibrant amid the global pandemic.
“The rapid creation of this fund and successful grantmaking process demonstrated the ability of this community to quickly unite and activate, as funders, nonprofits, and donors. Together, we responded to the immediate crises as well as long-term recovery needs. Our community should be proud of the way we came together in this unprecedented time,” said Helen Beall, Community Impact Manager at YVCF.
In addition to almost $400,000 in programmatic grantmaking from the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation’s donor-advised fundholders directed over $250,000 in grants to local organizations addressing pressing needs caused or amplified by the pandemic in 2020.
Traci Hiatt, Donor Relations Manager at YVCF, explained, “We are fortunate to have such a strong community of donors who supported this fund from day one. The immediate outpouring of support meant we could help nonprofits move quickly to provide critical services to those most impacted, even before government response was available.”
Recipients of COVID-19 response grants and the populations they aim to serve are detailed below:
FOOD & HOUSING INSECURE –$53,000 was granted to the following organizations providing food and housing to low-income, housing- and food-insecure, and unemployed individuals and families:
- LiftUp of Routt County
- Community Budget Center
- Town of Oak Creek
- Love Inc. of the Yampa Valley
- Salvation Army (two grants)
- Routt County United Way: Routt to Success
FOOD & HOUSING INSECURE GRANT HIGHLIGHT: LIFT UP
LiftUp received a grant for $25,000 to assist with general operating, bridging the loss of revenue typically generated through their thrift store which was closed due to COVID-19 restrictions in April and May 2020. This grant, allowing the organization to keep its doors open, was critical to serve the needs of our community. As of December 31, 2020, LiftUP spent $238,727 in housing assistance for Routt County residents. Their 2020 budgeted amount was $55,000. In addition, the organization served 321 clients with emergency financial assistance, 42 clients with Thrift Store vouchers, 5,337 (not unduplicated) Food Bank shoppers, and 2,001 (not unduplicated) children through the Rocket Pack program.
OTHER AT RISK POPULATIONS – $29,420 was granted to the following organizations providing services to individuals and families with intellectual and developmental disabilities, immigrants, and older adults:
- Horizons Specialized Services (two grants)
- Integrated Community (two grants)
- Northwest Colorado Center for Independence
- Rocky Mountain Downs Syndrome Association
- Yampa Valley Autism Program
- The Haven (Northwest Colorado Health) – (two grants)
- Routt County Council on Aging – (two grants)
OTHER AT RISK POPULATIONS GRANT HIGHLIGHT: ROUTT COUNTY COUNCIL ON AGING
YVCF COVID Relief funded Routt County Council on Aging two times, both efforts geared towards providing Routt County older adults with food. The first grant was for Essential Grocery Bags ($3,500) and the second grant was for Frozen Meals for Seniors ($5,760). Both grants were able to accomplish their goals and much more. Per Meg Tully of Routt County Council on Aging, “The grants impacted 150 older adults. Not only were seniors fed, but the connection with the delivery person perhaps had an even greater impact. Just seeing a smiling face at their door and chit-chatting for a bit was priceless during the time of forced isolation. Plus, the delivery person was able to provide a ‘wellness check’ on the senior, making sure they were OK at home. Many of these seniors live alone, so knowing they were OK was a priceless impact as well.”
MEDICALLY VULNERABLE AND HEALTH ACCESS– $80,591.14 was granted to the following medical organizations providing testing, care, and resource and referral in our community:
- Routt County Public Health
- Northwest Colorado Health (four grants)
- South Routt Medical Center
- Northwest Colorado Community Health Partnership
MEDICALLY VULNERABLE GRANT HIGHLIGHT: SOUTH ROUTT MEDICAL CENTER
The South Routt Medical Center received a general operating grant in the amount of $10,000. Ken Rogers of the South Routt Medical Center explained, “Without this funding, our clinic was in jeopardy of either closing or at minimum having to reduce our days of operation. However, with these funds, we were able to stay open and fully operational providing essential healthcare to the community. In addition, we were able to expand our COVID testing capacity to include the PCR and Sophia Rapid tests. We are currently testing approximately 100-150 patients a week.”
MENTAL HEALTH AND INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE AT-RISK–$31,500 was granted to the following organizations providing mental health support and assistance for domestic violence survivors:
- Mind Springs Health
- Open Heart Advocates
- Bears Ears EMS Counseling
- Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide
SUPPORTING EDUCATION–$24,932.69 was granted for the following schools to address the needs of students and their families from K-12:
- Hayden School District
- Moffat County School District
- South Routt School District
- Steamboat School District
YOUTH & CHILDCARE – A combined $156,993 was granted to the following youth-serving organizations:
- A Shared Vision
- BookTrails Inc.
- Boys and Girls Club of NW Colorado (two grants)
- Connections 4 Kids
- Family Development Center
- Grand Futures
- Heritage Park Preschool
- Holy Name Catholic Church
- Partners in Routt County
- Steamboat Creates (two grants)
- Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
- Totally Kids, Inc.
- Young Tracks Preschool and Child Care Center
YOUTH & CHILDCARE GRANT HIGHLIGHT: BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB
The Boys & Girls Clubs received $26,064 in funding to reopen the Craig and Steamboat Clubs with safety protocols in place. Funding was utilized for professional cleaning, to purchase PPE and additional supplies, to secure the assistance of an industrial hygienist, and for additional staffing and vehicle rentals. Additional staff hired by the Clubs enabled them to implement smaller, healthier cohorts and maintain more consistent service, especially valuable for working families. The twelve-passenger rental vehicle rented by the Craig Club was used to pick up Craig Middle School members on their off days from school who otherwise would not have had a ride to the Club. The second vehicle helped the Steamboat Club provide field trips and transportation during the summer, enabling the Club to work within COVID safety protocols and continue offering summer programming.