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Celebrating 80 Years - A First in the San Luis Valley, 1954, Costilla County Public Health Agency

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.


While the landscape of Costilla County is primarily barren desert, the region is also home to some of the richest historical sites in Colorado. San Luis is the oldest continuously-occupied town in the state and sites throughout the broader San Luis Valley speak to the historical influences of Spain, Mexico, the United States, and the Ute people. El Pomar Foundation made its first grant to this region in 1954.


Grantee Spotlight: Costilla County Public Health Agency

The history of Costilla County dates back to 1540, when Francisco Vazquez de Coronado led an expedition through the present-day American Southwest to search for the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola. In 1851, Hispanic settlers from Taos Valley in New Mexico claimed pieces of the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant, and established small villages in the San Luis Valley. Among these was the town of San Luis, which remains the oldest continuously-occupied town in Colorado.

Today, like much of the San Luis Valley, the town of San Luis is engaged in efforts to preserve and promote its rich history while remaining financially stable in a rapidly urbanizing society. The town sits near Fort Garland, formerly commanded by Kit Carson, and is also home to the Stations of the Cross Shrine, a popular pilgrimage site originally built by the parishioners of the Sangre de Cristo parish.

In 1954, El Pomar Foundation made a $6,000 grant to the Costilla County Public Health Agency for the Sangre de Cristo community. The Public Health Agency remains in operation to this day, and continues to work for its community-centered mission: “to enhance life through quality health services while preserving cultural values.”


El Pomar in 1954:

In 1954, El Pomar Foundation made 57 grants to 38 organizations for a total impact of $562,000. The largest grant recipients for this year were: Pauline Chapel, Glockner Hospital, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado College, and the Fountain Valley School.


Image from:

Spotlight by Matt Nuñez