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Celebrating 80 Years - On the RISE, 2016, Southeast Colorado Springs Initiative

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.

Creating livable communities to work, play, and stay requires the vision and engagement of many. It demands vision of community members, the financial support of many, and robust partnerships with nonprofit, local government, and business entities. With this in mind, El Pomar released Possibilities: Southeast Colorado Springs Request for Proposal, which led to El Pomar’s support of the RISE (Resilient, Inspired, Strong, Engaged) Coalition.


Residents gather for a "Meet me in the park" community event

Grantee Spotlight: RISE (Resilient, Inspired, Strong, Engaged) Coalition

For many years southeast Colorado Springs has been described as an under-resourced community. To learn more, El Pomar staff and Fellows conducted a research project to better understand the needs and assets in southeast Colorado Springs.  At the conclusion of this research, El Pomar released the Possibilities Request for Proposal in June 2016, which sought organizations from cross-sector community coalitions interested in working with stakeholders in southeast Colorado Springs.

Later that year, El Paso County Public Health was selected as the recipient of a grant for its RISE (Resilient, Inspired, Strong, Engaged) Coalition. El Pomar’s Trustees made a seven-year commitment to help fund the RISE Coalition, especially in its resident-led work. RISE aims to enhance southeast Colorado Springs through citizen-led change and utilizes local resources to reduce barriers to success. In 2017, El Paso County Public Health facilitated the planning process for the RISE Coalition in partnership with the Colorado Springs Black Chamber of Commerce, the Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO), and the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region. Through that process, RISE developed a detailed plan for the southeast Colorado Springs community to cultivate healthier families and a stronger community and economy. Resident leaders were selected to participate on the Steering Committee and provide guidance and accountability for the plan’s objectives. Since the initial planning proposal, additional members have been added and the coalition now involves 50 partner organizations.

The CommUnity Trailer is stocked with games and sports equipment

RISE currently engages resident leaders in southeast Colorado Springs to foster citizen-led action to enhance five main areas in the community: cultural, social, built, human, and financial capital. This means connecting people to people, connecting people to resources, connecting people to places, connecting people to opportunity, and finally connecting people to potential.

In February 2018, RISE’s efforts and collaboration with multiple community partners resulted in the opening of the Southeast Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Clinic, a development that has been effective in providing easier access to the clinic’s services for residents without reliable transportation. Further, RISE worked with the Trust for Public Land and helped develop a mobile trailer stocked with games and sports equipment that can quickly activate parks throughout the community (see right). RISE has also played a key role in the implementation of the Transforming Safety grant program, which supports community development through small business loans and grant programs.

Recently, southeast Colorado Springs was awarded a $1 million Urban Land Institute Healthy Places grant by The Colorado Health Foundation, to be paid over three years and used primarily to develop a community hub space and heighten the capacity of the Solid Rock Community Development Corporation. Since El Pomar’s initial grant in 2016, the RISE Coalition has been able to leverage more than $3.6 million for the southeast Colorado Springs community.


El Pomar in 2016

In 2016, El Pomar made 815 grants, totaling more than $12 million. The largest grants made in 2016 were provided to organizations in the Pikes Peak region, including: the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to support new exhibits for hippos and penguins, support for construction of a kitchen and dining facility at Springs Rescue Mission, capital support for the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region, and the grant to El Paso County Public Health discussed above. The largest Regional Council grants were provided by the Northeast Council to Northeast BOCES for a postsecondary workforce program and by the San Luis Valley Council to Adams State University for Nurse Practitioner scholarships. In other news at the Foundation, El Pomar’s Fellowship celebrated its 25th year.


Spotlight by Janni Conrad

Images Courtesy of RISE Coalition