Record-breaking donations in 2015 produced a record-breaking total for grants awarded this fall, more than $1 million, through The Summit Foundation.
The charitable organization, established in Summit County in 1984, specifically distributed $1,098,955 to 59 nonprofit agencies that provide services in Summit, Grand, Park and Lake counties.
“This has been a very good year for The Summit Foundation,” Mike Schilling, president of the foundation’s board of trustees, said in a news release. “Together with our donors we are able to reach this milestone and share the generosity of the community.”
To put this notable disbursement into better context, at this same time last year, the foundation allocated $839,166 to 48 nonprofits. While those are still significant digits, it’s approximately a quarter-million dollars less and 11 fewer recipients than this most recent round of grants announced at the foundation’s December meeting.
The Summit Foundation’s grants committee reviewed applications for more than a month, which included making site visits to meet with various representatives of each applicant.
“The Summit Foundation is able to look at each Area of Impact collectively and determine the most pressing needs,” Jeanne Bistranin, the foundation’s executive director, said in the news release. “Our reach is broad and collectively covers all of the qualities that make our community so unique and beautiful.”
In particular, the foundation provided its largest share for youth initiatives and organizations, just over half-a-million dollars. That was divvied up among a wide-ranging number of programs that included the local CATCH after-school program, a handful of preschools, a few different sports organizations, outdoor education including the local Cub and Boy Scouts and Summit High’s after prom.
Just under $400,000 was awarded to health and human service support systems, including Advocates for Victims of Assault, the local suicide prevention program, as well as child advocacy and avalanche safety organizations, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC) in Silverthorne and the county coroner’s office toward a burial relief fund and its new survivor support service. Allowances were also provided in this same category for neighboring organizations like South Park Seniors, Park County Senior Coalition and Rocky Mountain Rural Health for residents in Fairplay and Alma.
Tamara Drangstveit, executive director of FIRC, explained that, when preparing a grant proposal, it typically has to be for a designated project. She said one of the best parts about The Summit Foundation is its willingness to allow recipients to make more of those choices once the money is bestowed.
“The Summit Foundation allows us to choose which programs we think need the funds the most and make the decision ourselves,” she said. “It gives us a lot of flexibility to partner with them to have the biggest impact.”
Though FIRC has yet to decide where exactly this annual grant will go, often a portion of it is put toward payroll for its 50 or so employees, as that’s frequently a difficult item to get covered through other donor funding.
“The real strength of the FIRC is dependent on our great employees,” she said. “And the Summit Foundation grant typically helps support the salaries of those talented employees. If we didn’t receive the funding, it would be a serious problem for the FIRC. We need those funds to help make our budget.”
In addition, the arts claimed $165,500 in total funding, spread out among such causes as the Colorado Mountain College Foundation, Lake Dillon Foundation for the Performing Arts, the Summit Concert Band and Breckenridge Music Festival. Finally, about $35,000 went toward the local environment through the Continental Divide Land Trust, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, and the High Country Conservation Center.
“We describe our work as ‘Helping people help people,’” said Schilling. “I love this phrase because it describes the community coming together to make a difference, and that’s exactly what we do. We thank our thousands of donors, and we thank the nonprofits for their tireless efforts.”
Aside from donor advised funding this year totaling about $63,000, provided through the Brunetti Family Advised Fund, Hankison Family Advised Fund, The Keltner Fund and The Lenzmeier/Williams Advised Fund, The Summit Foundation teamed up with Vail Resorts through its EpicPromise Foundation for grants totaling almost $98,000. The area’s other ski areas, Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain Resort, in addition to Vail, donated transferable ski privileges that result in more than $1 million in contributions to the foundation each year.
The Summit Foundation is a Breckenridge-based 501(c)(3) governed by a board of trustees made up of 30 to 35 members of the community. According to its website, the philanthropic charity is “dedicated to improving the quality of life for residents and guests of Summit County and neighboring communities.” It does this by building partnerships, mobilizing resources and summoning donors to support these local community organizations, with specific aims for health and human service, education, art and culture, sports and recreation, and environmental stewardship.