Founded in 1923, Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and its parish have been longstanding contributors to the Colorado Springs community. Closely engaged with the social, educational, and cultural life of Colorado Springs, priests and parishioners initiated the American Red Cross chapter, the Community Chest, the Tuberculosis Association, and the Visiting Nurses Association, and Ecumenical Social Ministries.
Julie Penrose was an avid fan and sponsor of the arts and culture scene in Colorado Springs, and this included the Colorado Springs Symphony. Founded in 1927, the Colorado Springs Symphony Ensemble was known for its ability to captivate audiences with talent from around the world until its closure in 2003. Today the same sound of celebration is provided to the city by the Colorado Springs Philharmonic.
"Let the magic begin." The dream had come true for Chancellor Emerita Pam Shockley-Zalabak with the Center's opening gala.
As can be seen in their giving to educational institutions like the Fountain Valley School and to organizations like the Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region and Colorado Springs Day Nursery Association, Spencer and Julie Penrose were philanthropically invested in the well-being of children in the Colorado Springs community. Another example of this interest in the Foundation’s early giving can be seen in grants made to both Boy and Girl Scouts in the Pikes Peak region.
United Way has grown considerably since its Colorado origins. There are now almost 1,800 United Ways across the United States and the world, all serving the mission of “improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good.” In Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak United Way works to strengthen Youth Success and Family Stability, by providing tools and resources that will lead to a stable job and enough income to support a family and good health.
Many philanthropic foundations bear the names of their founders, so it may not be immediately obvious why the name “El Pomar” is associated with the Penrose legacy. The answer lies in the Penrose House, Spencer and Julie Penrose’s Colorado Springs home, which now serves as a free-of-charge meeting space and conference center for nonprofit agencies and government organizations.
Celebrating 80 Years - The Wild Side of the Penrose Legacy, 1943, Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society
Spencer Penrose was enamored with animals and channeled this passion into the creation of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. El Pomar’s third-largest grant recipient to date, the Zoo continues to operate on the mountain west of the Broadmoor, providing world-class recreation, education, and conservation efforts from 6,800 feet above sea level.
Julie Penrose was a devout Catholic throughout her life, and that influence can be seen in El Pomar’s early grant making. In 1942, the Foundation expanded its giving beyond Colorado Springs in order to support work being done by Catholic organizations in other cities along the Front Range, beginning with the Dioceses of Denver and Pueblo.
Celebrating 80 Years - 1941, Colorado Springs Day Nursery Association (Early Connections Learning Centers)
While alive, Spencer and Julie Penrose were only two members of a broader network of philanthropists and community leaders working for the betterment of Colorado Springs. Often, it was by joining with other area philanthropists like Alice Bemis Taylor, whose Day Nursery is profiled here, that the Penroses were able to effectively multiply their ability to make a positive impact on the community. The oldest nonprofit child care organization in Colorado, the Colorado Springs Day Nursery Association first began serving the community in 1897.
While much of El Pomar’s giving was shaped by the vision, life and legacy of Spencer Penrose, the influence of his wife, Julie Villiers Lewis Penrose, cannot be understated. Mrs. Penrose directed the Foundation for 16 years following Spencer’s passing, and her philanthropic passion, devout Catholicism, and interest in arts and culture all helped shape the direction of the Foundation’s grant making. The Foundation's long history of giving to the Central City Opera House is one example of her legacy.