#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.
Known as “Olympic City, USA,” Colorado Springs is home to the United States Olympic Committee headquarters, more than 20 national Olympic governing bodies, 50 national sport organizations, the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center, and the U.S. Olympic Museum scheduled to open in 2020. El Pomar has played a significant role in the establishment of the city as a center for the nation’s Olympic movement: the Foundation supported the United States Olympic Committee during its 1978 move to Colorado Springs and in the 40 years since.
Grantee Spotlight: United States Olympic Committee
Shortly after the founding of the International Olympic Committee in 1894 as the international governing authority of the Olympics, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) was formed to organize the participation of American athletes in the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens. Currently located in Colorado Springs, the USOC serves as the coordinating body for all U.S. athletic activity related to international competition. It oversees the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games.
Unlike other nations, the United States does not have a Ministry of Sports and the national government does not fund the Olympic Committee. After a federal law granted the USOC (at that time, the United States Olympic Association) a federal charter, however, the Committee was able to solicit tax-deductible contributions as a private 501(c)(3) organization. Today, the USOC is dedicated to bolstering physical fitness and public participation that advance the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movements. To that end, the Committee has implemented a series of programs including the Collegiate Partnerships program, U.S Olympic Endowment, International Coaching Enrichment Certificate program, and various diversity and inclusion initiatives.
El Pomar’s support for the Olympic movement grew out of Spencer Penrose’s passion for sports and entertainment in the Pikes Peak region. In the 1970s, El Pomar’s Trustees recognized the opportunity to bolster the status of Colorado Springs as a center for amateur athletics. The Foundation provided a $1 million grant and Chairman William Thayer Tutt played a central role in bringing the USOC headquarters to Colorado Springs in its 1978 move from New York. Tutt had also served as vice president of the Colorado Olympics Committee and was awarded the IOC’s highest honor, the Olympic Order, in 1987.
After relocating to Colorado Springs, the USOC initially housed its Olympic Training Center at the former Ent Air Force Base, due to its relatively high elevation, which is thought to improve training effectiveness. In 1995, El Pomar granted $3 million to the USOC for capital improvements and renovations to the Olympic Training Center facilities. Today, these facilities include an Olympic-size swimming pool, an indoor shooting range, the Olympic Training Center Velodrome, two sports centers housing numerous gymnasiums and weight rooms, and a sports science laboratory, in addition to an athlete center and dining hall, several dormitories, a visitors’ center, and the offices of both the USOC and U.S. Paralympics.
Since 1977, El Pomar has granted more than $10 million to the USOC, making the organization the Foundation’s 12th highest grantee to date. The USOC continues to work on behalf of the culture of sport and excellence that is central to the Olympic Games and the city of Colorado Springs alike.
El Pomar in 1995:
The Foundation made 221 grants totaling more than $10.7 million in 1995. In addition to the $3 million to the USOC, other significant capital grants included $2 million for the El Pomar Natatorium at the University of Denver and the donation of land behind the Penrose House to the Namaste Alzheimer’s care facility.
Spotlight by Andrew Schwartz
Images courtesy of United States Olympic Committee