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Celebrating 80 Years - “Space Today for a Better Tomorrow,” 1983, United States Space Foundation

Tags: #Celebrating80Years

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Old Headquarters on 14th Street

#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 the 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.


The United States Space Foundation was founded in 1983 and has since provided significant benefits to Colorado Springs and the national and international space communities. In particular, the Discovery Center and Space Symposium have brought significant tourism to the Pikes Peak region and the Foundation’s annual publication The Space Report is referenced widely in space-related policy making. In keeping with Penrose’s entrepreneurial bent and an eye for projects that will leverage the strengths of the Pikes Peak Region, Trustees encouraged and supported formation of the Space Foundation.  Since that time, El Pomar Trustees have made 30 different grants to support an increased national awareness of the value of space.



Grantee Spotlight: United States Space Foundation

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Space Foundation Discovery Center

In 1983, three members of the Colorado Springs community, J. Braxton Carter, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of T-Mobile;  Bill Hybl, El Pomar President and CEO; and Kenneth B. Kramer, Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, came together to form the United States Space Foundation, DBA Space Foundation. The Pikes Peak region had established a reputation as a developing center for national defense, and the Air Force Academy and Peterson Air Force Base meant the region had many relevant resources available for establishing a foundation designed to serve the space community. Although the Space Foundation has corporate offices in Houston, Florida, and D.C. today, the headquarters and majority of its research and education remain concentrated in Colorado Springs.

According to CEO Tom Zelibor, the Foundation strives to present outer space as valuable and viable for everybody and aims to demonstrate that we “need space today for a better tomorrow.” To accomplish this, the Space Foundation focuses on research, education, and advocacy.

Through a strong research team, the Foundation annually publishes The Space Report: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity, which is well regarded in the international space arena and is used to educate policy makers. The Foundation combines its focuses on research and education in its work with NASA to develop curriculum for teachers of kindergarten to graduate level courses. As careers in STEM fields are projected to increase dramatically over the next few decades, this Foundation also expanded its focus on education with the opening of the Discovery Center in Colorado Springs, developed to introduce students and educators to the value of space. The Center hosts field trips for local schools and is also a popular tourist attraction that welcomes about 40,000 visitors every year. Today, the Foundation is working to expand the Discovery Center and develop virtual programs to increase accessibility for participants.

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Space Symposium

In addition to The Space Report and Discovery Center, the Space Foundation is also known for its annual Space Symposium. This April, 15,000 individuals from 40 countries attended the 34th Symposium, held at the Broadmoor Hotel, an enormous increase from the 250 attendees of the inaugural Symposium in 1984. Not only does the Symposium bring the national and international space communities together, it also generates significant tourism, with an estimated $15-20 million dollars of economic impact for the Pikes Peak region.

El Pomar has supported the Space Foundation from its inception, with an initial $50,000 grant in 1983. From the financial impact on the Colorado Springs area, to the education of tens of thousands of children every year, to the commitment to provide important information for legislators, the Space Foundation has been a true force for good in its 35-year history.



El Pomar in 1983:

In continued recovery from the recession and a resulting ability to increase support for Colorado’s nonprofits, El Pomar made 72 grants for a total of $2.5 million in 1983. Grantees were diverse in terms of geography and focus, including the Holy Cross Abbey in Canon City, Custer County Medical Foundation, Rampart Range Emergency System in Woodland Park, Historic Georgetown, the Denver Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Arthur Roy Mitchell Memorial in Trinidad.

Images courtesy of United States Space Foundation

Spotlight by Kathryn Benson