Chambers Family Fund
Chambers Family Fund Foundation, creating women's funds foundations, children early care and education, systems change, Merle Chambers, Denver Colorado, Chambers Center for the Advancement of Women, economic self-sufficiency, democratic values, funding for women and girls, philanthropy


2016 Annual Report Highlights

Annual Report Highlights

The Chambers Family Fund Board of Directors is grateful to the many outstanding organizations in Colorado and around the country that work each day to provide opportunities for success and improved quality of life for those who need it most. Following are highlights of our 2016 program area grants and the accomplishments of some of those organizations.

Justice, Equality and Opportunity

Chambers Family Fund provides critical annual operating support to The Bell Policy Center (the Bell). Co-founded by Chambers Family Fund, and in its 16th year, the Bell continues to fulfill its mission by leading the debate on family economic security and driving public policy solutions that help Coloradans get ahead and stay ahead. As a network partner of Ascend at the Aspen Institute, the Bell plays a critical policy role in two-generation research and strategy. It has focused on developing two-generation strategies that tie education and training opportunities for parents with early childhood education opportunities for their children. In October, the Bell released its report Bound to Succeed: An Environmental Scan of Two-Generation Approaches to Education in Colorado. The report focused on the intentional linkage of adult education, job training, workforce development and postsecondary education for low-income parents with early childhood education for their children. With information from Bound to Succeed, the Bell’s goal is to create policies to ensure that linked services are available for low-to-moderate income families throughout Colorado. Children’s outcomes are closely tied to parent educational level and income, which is why linking parent and children education programs is important.

Colorado Center for Law and Policy (CCLP) strives to reduce or eliminate governmental, societal and economic barriers that prevent self-sufficiency and economic security. General support from Chambers Family Fund allows CCLP to be strategic in the work it undertakes, with the goal of bringing about measurable results and systemic change on behalf of people living in poverty. In 2016, CCLP was part of a coalition working to put a minimum wage increase on the ballot. In November, voters passed Amendment 70 and increased the minimum wage to $9.30 per hour, with annual increases of 90 cents each January 1 until it reaches $12 per hour in 2020. The minimum wage will be adjusted for cost-of-living increases starting in 2021.

Over seven years, the Susan T. Buffett Foundation invested $27 million to expand the Colorado Family Planning Program at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). This expansion, also known as the Colorado Family Planning Initiative (CFPI), provided low- and no-cost long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) to more than 36,000 low income women statewide. During the implementation of CFPI between 2009 and 2015, birth and abortion rates declined by nearly 50% among teens aged 15-19 and 20% among young women aged 20-24. Associated averted public assistance costs totaled between $66.1 and $69.6 million for four entitlement programs. After legislation failed to pass in 2015, Chambers Family Fund partnered with other funders to collaboratively provide $2.1 million in bridge funding to continue the expanded program. In 2016, the legislature passed a $2.5 million increase in funding for the CDPHE Family Planning Program.

With the successful passage of funding in the state budget for the expanded Colorado Family Planning Program, some of the foundations that collaborated to provide bridge funding strategized to further reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy in Colorado.

Women’s Economic Self-Sufficiency

Ascend at The Aspen Institute received start-up funding from Chambers Family Fund and has been a very successful national initiative to introduce and implement two-generation strategies and reforms that lift single parents and children out of poverty. In Colorado, Ascend released a new report, State Human Services Model - Colorado as a Case Study for Policymakers. Colorado continues to be a model and resource for other states seeking to develop statewide two-generation strategies.

With grants to Ascend from Chambers Family Fund, Rose Community Foundation and The Piton Foundation, Colorado is developing a 2Gen Action Plan in 2016. Ascend has facilitated and led the cross-sector planning of the action plan. In the fall of 2016, Colorado was one of five states to receive a grant from the National Governors Association (NGA) for two-generation implementation. Chambers Family Fund partnered with the Governor’s office to submit the grant and collaboratively provided a partial match to funds received from the NGA. The state will use the grant funding to hire a two-generation manager in the Governor’s office who will coordinate the two-generation efforts in state departments and agencies.

Since 2013, Chambers Family Fund and Rose Community Foundation have funded Denver Women’s Collaborative (DWC), an initiative of nine women-serving organizations to collaborate and learn more about engaging in advocacy and policy on behalf of their clients. In 2016, the foundations engaged Alliance for Justice to provide advocacy training for the boards and staff of DWC. In conjunction with the training, the foundation also sponsored a C(3) Forum where Alliance for Justice provided advocacy training for foundations and nonprofits.

Early Care and Education

Since 2012, Chambers Family Fund, Rose Community Foundation and Buell Foundation have partnered with the Alliance for Early Success (the Alliance), a national organization that is funding policy and advocacy in selected states. The Colorado Early Learning Policy Initiative was formed from this partnership and includes Clayton Early Learning and Colorado Children’s Campaign. It advances state level early childhood policy and capacity building objectives. In 2016, two additional funders - the Buffett Early Childhood Fund and The Piton Foundation - joined the collaborative.

The guiding principles of bipartisanship and grounding advocacy in the best and most reliable data and research continue to define the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Alongside the Denver Women’s Collaborative, the Campaign led advocacy efforts to secure bipartisan support for access to child care for teen parents and survivors of domestic violence. The Campaign’s coordinated advocacy led to the overhaul of our state’s child care subsidy program, the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP). The policy changes were coupled with an additional $2 million state investment in CCCAP in the 2016 legislative session.

Early Milestones Colorado, a new early childhood intermediary organization, was created in 2014 by Chambers Family Fund in partnership with other early childhood focused foundations. The early success of Milestones is reflected in its numerous projects and funding to date. Launch Together, a five year $11.2 million project is a first in the nation, privately funded effort to advance children’s social and emotional health. Transforming Colorado’s Early Childhood workforce, a $500,000 project, is a joint partnership with Colorado Department of Education, Colorado Department of Human Services and the Early Childhood Leadership Commission. The purpose is to advance the early childhood workforce in Colorado with a specific focus on ways to better recruit, retain and compensate those working directly with young children.

Chambers Family Fund continued its work in partnership with Bezos Family Foundation and other Colorado funders to collaboratively provide funding and engage a consultant to develop an action plan for disseminating Vroom in Colorado. After six months of planning, the Vroom in Colorado initiative was placed as a new program at Parent Possible and launch events were held at the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus.

Honored Commitments

Chambers Family Fund made an early grant of $250,000 that enabled curatorial research and the publication of the catalogue for the Women of Abstract Expressionism exhibit at the Denver Art Museum (DAM). This was the first full-scale museum presentation of the work of women painters who came of age artistically in the avant-garde era of the late 1940s and 50s America. The exhibition was on view at the DAM from June 12 to September 25 in 2016. The museum estimates that there were 75,000 visitors to the exhibition, in addition to related public programs that drew a higher than usual attendance. The exhibition had a permanent impact on the DAM’s modern art collection, resulting in the addition of nine new works by women painters of Abstract Expressionism through gift and purchase. Several authors of modern and contemporary art textbooks anticipate changes in academic textbooks due to the new scholarship that resulted from the exhibition and catalogue.

Chambers Family Fund is constructing a new museum building near the Denver Art Museum and the Clyfford Still Museum in the Denver Golden Triangle Museum District. It is an investment in the further development of the City of Denver’s nationally important art scene. The building will house Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art. Groundbreaking was held at the new museum location at 12th Avenue and Bannock Street in September, 2015 and the new museum building will be completed in 2017.

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