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Celebrating 80 Years - "A Fine Young Man," 1957, Scholarships and Empowerment through Education

Tags: #Celebrating80Years

#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.


Grantee Spotlight:  Scholarships

Education was important to Spencer and Julie Penrose’s philanthropic efforts, and that is evident in the significant amount of scholarship funding the Foundation has provided throughout its history.

Julie Penrose wanted to ensure deserving young men and women who wanted to go to college but could not afford it were provided an opportunity to continue their education. Originally, Mrs. Penrose conducted the interviews personally, granting to fund educations at institutions of higher education throughout the state.

Tilman "Tillie" Bishop

One of the Foundation’s earliest scholarship recipients is still affiliated with El Pomar today: current Northwest Regional Council member Tilman “Tillie” Bishop.

Known by nearly everyone as "Tillie,” Bishop graduated from Colorado Springs High School with an El Pomar Foundation Scholarship that provided resources to help him earn his B.A. in 1955 and M.A. in 1956 in Education at the University of Northern Colorado. When asked about the scholarship, Bishop reported [Mrs. Penrose] offered scholarships to boys who graduated high school. I have a copy of the minutes of the El Pomar Foundation Board where Julie called me a ‘fine young man.’” In a later interview, he added, “she was willing to take a risk on me with my goal of going to UNC, where she paid the tuition and fees, board, room, books and supplies. It was a very generous scholarship—one that I’ve been deeply appreciative of.”

Tillie was one of the first Regional Council members to come on board in 2003 following the creation of the Regional Partnerships program, and still serves on the Council today. Residing in Grand Junction with his wife, Pat, Tillie has had a long and dedicated career in public service. When he retired in 1994, Bishop had served Colorado as:  Mesa County commissioner, Colorado state representative for two terms, state senator for six four-year terms, public school teacher for seven years, and college administrator at Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University.) Bishop is the perfect representation of the impetus behind El Pomar Foundation’s scholarship funding—empowering engaged individuals to make a difference for the state of Colorado. 

The Foundation first granted to scholarships for higher education in 1946: $3,375 to the University of Colorado and $3,960 to Colorado College. Since that beginning, more than $25 million in scholarship funding has been granted to more than 40 organizations and institutions, including: Colorado College, the University of Colorado system, the University of Denver, Loretto Heights College (at the time a four-year college for women, now part of Regis University), Regis University, Colorado Women’s College, Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, Western State Colorado University, Adams State University, Fort Lewis College, Colorado State University-Pueblo, Colorado Mesa University, Colorado Mountain College, Colorado Northwestern Community College, Lamar Community College, Otero Junior College, Seton School of Nursing, a number of private high schools in Denver and the Pikes Peak Region, and more.


El Pomar in 1957:

With the addition of funds after Julie Penrose’s passing in 1956, Foundation giving continued to grow and $1.57 million was granted in 1957, including $152,000 in scholarship funding. The largest grants were to Penrose-Glockner Hospital and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. The Foundation’s $5,000 grant to Hope Counseling Centers, Inc. in Fort Collins was also its first grant to the North region not associated with a scholarship.


Spotlight by Corey Baron