Chambers Family Fund made 129 grants in 2008 totaling nearly $3.7 million in a continuing effort to strengthen democratic values, change systems, support policies that positively impact the lives of women and children, and enhance arts and culture organizations in Colorado. As we have consistently done in prior years, we exceeded our grant payout requirement in 2008.
For our women’s funds initiative that created new women’s funds, another milestone was reached. In its fifth year, the Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma successfully matched our challenge grant and reached its $1 million endowment goal. The Wyoming Women’s Foundation and the Women’s Foundation of Montana continued to grow their endowments, each reaching the $1 million mark in 2006. We continued to make annual operating support grants and provided technical assistance to these women’s funds.
Beginning in 2007, Chambers Family Fund was the first funder to support the Women’s Funding Network’s capacity building program to launch the Women Moving Millions Campaign. This initiative raised the bar for women’s philanthropy, increasing the number of women making gifts of $1 million or more to women’s funds throughout the world. By year-end 2008, the campaign had raised $123 million toward its goal of $150 million for women’s funds. Chambers Family Fund participated in the campaign by making a multi-year capacity building grant to the Women’s Funding Network and a $1 million grant to The Women’s Foundation of Colorado.
The Colorado Self-Sufficiency Standard (the Standard) is an objective measure of what it costs for families and individuals to meet their basic needs without public or private assistance. Unlike the one-size-fits-all Federal Poverty Level, the Standard takes into account geographical differences and ages of children in the household. These factors significantly impact a family’s ability to attain self-sufficiency. Several counties throughout the state are currently using the Standard to advocate for affordable housing, set wage scales for county employees, create child care programs and increase cash assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs. State legislators use the Standard as a foundation for discussion of the disbursement of reserve TANF funds.
Chambers Family Fund provided a multi-year grant to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy for a second update to the Standard and to develop a statewide marketing and messaging plan for the Colorado Self-Sufficiency Calculator (the Calculator). The updated Standard was released in February 2008. The Calculator is being used by social workers for case management and in community colleges to counsel students on financial literacy and career choices. Fourteen training sessions on the use of the Calculator were held throughout the state.
At the national level, the Colorado Center on Law and Policy is working with partner organizations to promote the national adoption of the Standard as an alternative measure to the Federal Poverty Level.
In December 2007, three of our grantees partnered to publish Looking Forward, a report projecting state spending and revenue through fiscal year 2012-2013 and the projected consequences and challenges of maintaining current services into the future. We partnered with Rose Community Foundation and facilitated a discussion with other foundation representatives to learn more about the collaborative and encouraged multi-year support of the organizations’ fiscal reform work. The meeting led to two other funder forums focusing on the fiscal future of Colorado.
Chambers Family Fund provided a capital funding challenge grant to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains for its Building the Future Campaign. In August of 2008, Planned Parenthood opened its new state-of-the–art flagship building. The new building houses the administrative headquarters and provides increased access to reproductive health care for residents of Denver and the surrounding region.
The Iliff School of Theology in Denver hosted one of two national historic events celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. We sponsored the Celebration of Courage event, honoring the Little Rock Nine who led the way 50 years ago.
Chambers Family Fund provided lead funding to create the Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement, located in the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. The Center will promote civil dialogue in discussions that seek to resolve the issues of the day. Partnering with the Goldman School, the Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement will study and promote the practices of civility on which democracy and good policymaking depend. Center events will promote open-minded and productive exchanges about timely and controversial problems facing societies today.
We partnered with Rose Community Foundation and The Piton Foundation to fund a new Early Childhood Systems Office within the Colorado Lieutenant Governor’s office. These early care and education system reform efforts led to funding for full day kindergarten and to eliminate the waiting list for at-risk children ages three and four who qualify for state funded preschool programs.
The new Early Childhood Systems Office developed a visual framework called Early Childhood Colorado. This early childhood system map communicates the vision for comprehensive early childhood services in the state and illustrates the goals, outcomes and strategies to guide and organize systems change and policy decisions.
2007-2008 was the first school year for the new Clayton Educare Center that we funded on the Clayton Early Learning (formerly known as Clayton Foundation) campus. An evaluation of the first year indicates positive gains for the students and the program. A revealing outcome is that most Early Head Start families chose to stay at Clayton for Head Start. Parent training and involvement, a primary strategy of the new Educare Center, is making a difference in early education outcomes and evaluation of students’ progress shows significant gains in one year, especially for Spanish speaking students.
Clayton Educare Center’s partnership with Denver Public Schools (DPS) is working well. The goal is for families with preschool children at Clayton to make a seamless transition to Barrett Elementary or to other DPS schools. A Head Start classroom from Barrett Elementary has been moved to the Educare Center and Clayton is providing parental involvement training to the DPS teachers at Barrett.
The Bounce Learning Network, a partnership of Educare Centers, continues to fund evaluation of the eight Educare Centers located in various states across the country. Clayton Educare shares what it has learned in its professional development institute and successful public school partnership with Centers in other states.
In addition to general support grants to 27 arts and culture organizations in 2008, we made an initial grant of $25,000 to establish an endowment for the soon to be constructed Clyfford Still Museum. The remainder of Chambers Family Fund’s $250,000 challenge to build an endowment for the Clyfford Still Museum was delayed until 2009. The timing and strategy of the endowment challenge grant was revised so the museum could focus on its goal of securing capital gifts during a critical period of the fundraising campaign.
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art continues to be a priority and major focus of Chambers Family Fund’s grantmaking. We provide ongoing general operating support to this unique nationally recognized museum. In 2008, Kirkland Museum had an impressive increase in visitors and a fortuitous opportunity to purchase property located directly across from the museum. We made a capital grant for the purchase of the property that includes a building and a parking lot with additional parking spaces for guests. The property will provide an enhanced and welcoming experience for the museum’s guests and visitors.
Like many other foundations, Chambers Family Fund experienced a decline in assets in 2008 and made decisions that we shared with prospective grantees on our website. Our first step was to look inward and reduce our operating budget for 2009. Next, we assured our grantees that we would honor all prior grant commitments and make those payments as they were originally scheduled. However, the board decided that the foundation would not make new grant commitments or fund new initiatives in 2009.
Chambers Family Fund recognized the need to stay focused on long term goals because the problems we seek to address will remain after this economic crisis has passed. We made a commitment to work with our grantees to find ways to leverage our creative capital and assist our nonprofit partners to withstand these economic hardships and continue their vital work long into the future.
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