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Celebrating 80 Years - Scientia et Disciplina, 2017, Colorado College

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.

Cutler Hall, 1880


Scientia et disciplina.” Learning through hard work.

This is the motto of Colorado College, the oldest institution of higher education in Colorado Springs and El Pomar Foundation’s largest grant recipient to date. The connection between the college and the Foundation is owed to the school’s prominence in the community in the early twentieth-century, and Spencer and Julie Penrose’s committed support for education. 


Grantee Spotlight: Colorado College

Colorado Springs is fortunate to have a rich landscape of higher education, including the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Community College, the United States Air Force Academy, and Colorado College. The first of these to be founded, Colorado College has been operating as a co-educational institution in Colorado Springs since 1874.

Colorado College was founded by General William Jackson Palmer, who established Colorado Springs along the route of his Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. A top-rate college was an important element of his plan to make Colorado Springs a model city. The campus expanded substantially from 1888 to 1917, and today the school is regarded as one of the country's top liberal arts colleges. Colorado College is known for its distinctive “Block Plan,” in which students take one class at a time in three-and-a-half-week segments. In recent years, the school has continued to build on its unique brand with an emphasis on experiential learning and innovation.

The newly renovated Tutt Library, 2017

The Foundation has supported Colorado College since 1938 when it first granted $3,000 in operating funds and $200 to the Women’s Education Society. As Colorado College was the preeminent institution of higher education in Colorado Springs at the time, it makes sense that Spencer and Julie Penrose, who were committed to promoting education, were interested in the success of the students and school. The connection also developed in part due to Julie Penrose’s social circle, which included Colorado College benefactors like Alice Bemis Taylor.

Since 1946 Julie Penrose directed scholarships for deserving men and women to attend colleges throughout the state including Colorado College and today the El Pomar Scholarship encourages talented and passionate young students from Colorado to pursue a career in public policy or nonprofit work.

The Foundation’s contributions to Colorado College over the years total more than $41.4 million and have included everything from scholarships to teachers’ salaries to land acquisition and support for a variety of capital projects. The El Pomar Sports Center, Russell T. Tutt Science Center, and Tutt Library on campus—for which the Foundation provided a $1.5 million grant toward renovation in 2017— all speak to the rich history of connection between the two organizations.


El Pomar in 2017:

80 years after its founding, El Pomar provided more grants than ever before: 1037 grants totaling more than $13.5 million, as well as more than $760,000 provided as in-kind support for 873 uses of the Penrose House. Grants were provided to all 11 geographic regions of Colorado, to organizations covering all of the Foundation’s five areas of grant making, and to long-time grant recipients and first-time grantees alike. Grants were provided through the competitive process; programs like Awards for Excellence and Regional Partnerships; initiatives like the Wildland Fire Fund and Karl E. Eitel Fund; and donor-endowed funds including the Anna Keesling Ackerman Fund, Sally Beck Fund, Dorothy Ferrand Fund, Olin Fund, and Freda Hambrick Fund.

The Foundation recognized its 80 years of impact with a recognition of more than $1.2 billion in total impact on the state of Colorado, and continues its work today to give back to the people of Colorado on behalf of Spencer and Julie Penrose for years to come.


Spotlight by Corey Baron

Images courtesy of Colorado College