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Stories of Impact: The Waldo Canyon Fire Assistance Fund

Tags: Stories of Impact

The Waldo Canyon Fire began June 23, 2012 and was one of the most devastating fires in Colorado’s History.  It took two lives, destroyed more than 246 homes, and affected countless others.  Its impact on the surrounding community was immense, and its severity resonated nationally.  Local nonprofits, public departments, and individuals stepped up in its wake to mitigate what they could, but no one could have anticipated the resources demanded by fire recovery.

While local organizations supported victims of the fire, who would support the local organizations?  In response to this question, and with the help of seed funding from El Pomar, Pikes Peak United Way created the Waldo Canyon Fire Assistance Fund, which raised $940,000 in three months with donations from 48 states and 2 countries.

The fund was intended to assist local nonprofit organizations directly supporting El Paso and Teller County individuals impacted by the fire.  The first priority of the fund was to reimburse organizations that played a significant role during and in the immediate aftermath of the fire.  The second and third priorities respectively were to fund organizations that could serve the greatest number in need and fund organizations providing long-term services such as case-management and fire mitigation.

In total, 18 organizations received funding from the United Way’s Waldo Canyon Fire Assistance Fund.   These organizations provided housing assistance, case management, health and mental health services, food, clothing, and a myriad of other necessary services to victims of the fire.

The damage from Waldo Canyon, and later the Black Forest Fire cannot be undone, and many affected are still rebuilding their normal lives.  Nonetheless, The United Way, and the organizations that it worked with in the wake of the Waldo Canyon fire, demonstrate that even in times of disaster, members of our community are more than willing to lend a helping hand.  Amidst all the destruction, the good in our community cannot be understated.

This blog seeks to share stories of impact from across Colorado through our grantees. Email us at and tell us how people in your community have been impacted by the work you do.