Education was important to Spencer and Julie Penrose’s philanthropic efforts, and that is evident in the significant amount of scholarship funding the Foundation has provided throughout its history. Julie Penrose wanted to ensure deserving young men and women who wanted to go to college but could not afford it were provided an opportunity to continue their education. Originally, Mrs. Penrose conducted the interviews personally, granting to fund educations at institutions of higher education throughout the state.
The Pauline Chapel was built in 1919 by Spencer Penrose on behalf of his wife. Julie Penrose was a devout Catholic and her interest in charitable giving encouraged the couple to establish El Pomar Foundation as a means to give back to the communities of Colorado. With Mrs. Penrose’s passing in 1956, the Foundation entered a new stage, in which the stewardship of the Penrose legacy transferred from the Penrose’s to Trustees outside of the family.
One of El Pomar’s five original grantees in 1937 was the Junior League of Colorado Springs for the operation of its “Nutrition Camp School,” which El Pomar continued to support for the next 20 years. Founded by Marjorie Palmer Watt, daughter of Colorado Springs founder William Jackson Palmer, the school provided education and care for neglected and malnourished children. Although the organization closed in 1964, it lives on today in the grant making of the Nutrition Camp School Foundation.
While the landscape of Costilla County is primarily barren desert, the region is also home to some of the richest historical sites in Colorado. San Luis is the oldest continuously-occupied town in the state and sites throughout the broader San Luis Valley speak to the historical influences of Spain, Mexico, the United States, and the Ute people. El Pomar Foundation made its first grant to the region in 1954.
Although Spencer Penrose made his original fortune mining copper, he is often better known for founding and operating the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. While Penrose’s involvement with the hospitality industry and charitable giving are two separate sides of his Penrose legacy, these passions were brought together in the Foundation’s grants to the Geneva National Home in Littleton, which served as a center for recuperation and retirement for hotel employees from around the country.
Julie Penrose’s faith was a well-known element of her life and philanthropic activity, and in 1952 El Pomar Foundation made seven grants to parishes throughout the Front Range. Among these were grants to Mount Carmel Church in Pueblo for the purchase of a school bus, to St. Mary’s Church in Colorado Springs for maintenance of the Hammond organ, and to Sacred Heart Church in Old Colorado City.
The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region cares for thousands of lost, abandoned, abused and unwanted pets. An El Pomar grant recipient since 1951, HSPPR provides an important service to vulnerable and often neglected residents of our community.
El Pomar Foundation has a long-standing commitment to support and relief in emergencies. From the purchase of emergency vehicles and computers to funding homeless shelters and supporting celebratory dinners for our hometown heroes, the Foundation has granted to the American Red Cross Pikes Peak Chapter consistently since 1941.
In 1936, what is now the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College opened to massive community praise, with works on display from such renowned artists as Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, and Renoir. To date, the Fine Arts Center is one of El Pomar’s largest grant recipients, promoting valuable art displays and education in the heart of Colorado Springs.
Founded in 1923, Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and its parish have been longstanding contributors to the Colorado Springs community. Closely engaged with the social, educational, and cultural life of Colorado Springs, priests and parishioners initiated the American Red Cross chapter, the Community Chest, the Tuberculosis Association, and the Visiting Nurses Association, and Ecumenical Social Ministries.