Over twenty-five individuals from Colorado foundation and state funder organizations joined Philanthropy Colorado for a visit to the San Luis Valley (SLV) in mid-August. The SLV visit is part of Philanthropy Colorado’s on-going efforts to facilitate meaningful relationships between funders and rural communities in our state. Multi-day visits allow current and potential funders to better understand how philanthropy can best partner with these communities. The event was organized in partnership with the Community Foundation of the San Luis Valley and the co-chairs of Philanthropy Colorado’s Rural Funders Learning Network (RFLN) Advisory Committee, Amy Latham with the Colorado Health Foundation and Tony Lewis with the Donnell-Kay Foundation.
Funders had the opportunity to visit a variety of locations in the valley, including:
Most importantly, the visit allowed grantmakers to meet face-to-face and break bread with community members, organizations and local leaders. The conversations deepened our understanding of the history and culture of the valley, effective philanthropy, key community assets and challenges, and current and emerging local projects. Funders valued the opportunity to enjoy the diversity and beauty of the San Luis Valley communities for themselves – and to eat lots of great local food.
- Fort Garland Museum & Cultural Center, Fort Garland
- Rio Grande Farm Park, Alamosa
- The Barn at Manzanilla Farm, Alamosa
- Ef’s Restaurant, Alamosa
- Center Viking Youth Club, Center
- Center Theater (under renovation), Center
- Town of Center and Youth Enterprise Zone walking tour
These visits are the result of significant planning and networking, driven by the RFLN Advisory Committee. The many months of relationship-building and development that went into the SLV trip were evident in the authentic, rich conversations and sharing between our SLV community hosts and visiting grantmakers. Philanthropy Colorado's Rural and Statewide Director Amy Swiatek explains “We have built a relationship with the Community Foundation of the San Luis Valley to better understand their work and priorities and to re-ignite an SLV funder cohort to better align resources, connections and understanding of each other’s work.”
Some of the issues discussed include transforming food consumption in the valley by restoring healthier heritage foods, developing local and inclusive leadership, supporting youth engagement and entrepreneurship, saving historic structures, expanding affordable and attainable housing, balancing recreation and environmental preservation, and strengthening local economies. Amy adds, “We look forward to deeper investment and collaboration in support of the people of the San Luis Valley as a result of these continuing efforts. Onward!”
If you would like to become more engaged with Philanthropy Colorado’s Rural Funders Learning Network, contact Rural and Statewide Director Amy Swiatek.