Longmont Community Foundation Celebrating 25 Years of Local Impact
If you go
What: Longmont Community Foundation 25th anniversary celebration
When: 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: The Oak Room at Oskar Blues Brewery, 1800 Pike Road, Longmont
More info: bit.ly/2WJmfMr
Over the last 25 years, the Longmont Community Foundation has grown from a small charitable organization to the epicenter of charitable work in the city.
Whether it’s aiding human service organizations such as the OUR Center and the Inn Between, helping pay for improvements at educational facilities such as the Longmont Public Library and the Longmont Museum, or coordinating fundraising efforts for the city’s flood recovery efforts, the Community Foundation has been an integral part of Longmont’s transformation over the past two and a half decades.
“Longmont would be a very different community today if it wasn’t for the vibrant work of our nonprofit organizations,” said Scott Cook, CEO of the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce. “I see the Longmont Community Foundation as the advocate of these organizations in connecting generous community businesses and individuals to worthy causes that help build and grow our community.”
The Longmont Community Foundation not only acts as a conduit, connecting those in need with those willing to give, it also convenes conferences and trainings with local nonprofits about how they can adjust their services to best meet the needs of the community.
“They’ve taken leadership to make sure the governance of nonprofits is better and more resilient,” said Edwina Salazar, executive director of the OUR Center. “So they have significantly influenced the community through relationships as well as cash donations.”
When it was founded in 1984 by a group of volunteers, including Francis McCarty, Virginia Holmes, Bob Sarchet, Stewart Golden and Ed and Ruth Lehman, no one imagined the Community Foundation would last 25 years, let alone develop into a pillar of the community — it couldn’t even afford its own office until the old First National Bank on Fourth Avenue and Main Street donated some space in a back room.
In its first year, after receiving a $500,000 grant from the Boettcher Foundation, the Community Foundation donated $60,000 to support the historic Longmont Theatre, refurbishing of the Longmont Public Library and a local scholarship for St. Vrain Valley School District students.
Its dedicated volunteer staff saw the foundation’s potential in Longmont and kept searching for new ways to help. Ultimately, it drove them to push the boundaries of what a community foundation could be and what services it could support.
“One of the first programs beyond the realm of the traditional community foundation was called Longmont Legacy Fund, which was designed to attract younger donors,” said Cindy Noble the foundation’s first full-time director. “Each of the younger families would donate $1,000 and at the end of the year we would pool all the resources and would make donations collectively.”
Allowing donors to choose where their donations were going and what they were spent on transformed the organization. It not only allowed those of modest means to pool their money and make a bigger impact, but it also allowed people to choose a specific issue on which to make an impact.
Using this model, hundreds of people were donating to the foundation by the early 2000s, which allowed the staff to support dozens of nonprofits throughout Longmont. Today, the Community Foundation each year donates more than $1 million from 184 funds to more than 400 charitable organizations.
“As I reflect on what we thought when we were first getting started this would be a dream come true,” Noble said. “We thought we were dreaming big hoping to get 50 funds or to get a million-dollar donor.”
The Community Foundation has donated $11 million over the past 25 years and is still growing. In just the first four months of 2019, the foundation has already set a new annual record for donations, giving away more than $2 million.
In addition to giving away more money, the foundation also is increasing the number of recipients. In the coming months it will partner with Longmont Power and Communications to launch the Sharing the Next Light initiative, which provides free internet access to low-income families with children in the St. Vrain Valley School District; help fund the Veterans Village, which will create 25 units for homeless veterans, and construct the Hover Greenhouse at the new Hover Senior Living Community.
During the 25th anniversary celebration, which will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Oak Room at Oskar Blues Brewery, Mayor Brian Bagley will help kick off yet another new initiative in which the Community Foundation will give away $1,000 grants to individuals or families in need for the next 25 months.
Nevertheless, it’s still not enough.
“While the Live and Give Longmont fund, (the foundation’s general fund) might be close to $1 million it’s nowhere near the amount of money we get in proposals for needs,” said Eric Hozempa, the current director of the Longmont Community Foundation. “So it will go on long after I’m gone. So it’s important to continue to grow that fund so we can maintain the levels we are at now and grow with the community because it will be needed for the future.”
John Spina: 303-473-1389, email@example.com or twitter.com/jsspina24