In 2007, Chambers Family Fund made grants totaling more than $2.8 million to organizations that create systems change, improve the quality and circumstances of life and reflect our values and interests.
Seven years after the launch of an initiative to increase philanthropic support of organizations in the states where Merle Chambers’ oil and gas business operated, Chambers Family Fund completed and released Creating a Women’s Fund Within a Community Foundation. A case study of the women’s funds initiative, the 60 page document is based on Chambers Family Fund’s work building women’s funds in Wyoming, Montana and Oklahoma. It is designed to share what we learned, provide successful strategies to make such partnerships work and offer recommendations based on our experience. Printed documents were distributed and an online version was posted on the Chambers Family Fund website.
In a continuing effort to support women’s funds within community foundations, we partnered with the Women’s Funding Network to convene a session for women’s funds operating within community foundations during the 2007 annual conference. The session served as an opportunity for women’s funds to share best practices and learn from one another.
In its fourth year, the Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma had remarkable success in raising funds for the endowment and will reach its $1 million endowment goal in 2008. The Wyoming Women’s Foundation and the Women’s Foundation of Montana continue to grow their endowments, each having reached the $1 million mark in 2006.
In early 2007, we explored opportunities to provide funding to benefit women and girls in North Dakota. We made multi-year commitments to two women’s funds within community foundations, the Women’s Fund of the Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation and the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Region. These funds are growing their endowments and making grants for women and girls to achieve economic self-sufficiency. To attain statewide reach, we also made a multi-year commitment to the North Dakota Women’s Network, a policy and advocacy organization that promotes policies for the advancement of women in North Dakota.
Beginning in 2007, Chambers Family Fund shifted its grantmaking in the Women’s Economic Self-Sufficiency priority area from supporting direct service organizations to funding systems change, policy and advocacy. By addressing the systemic challenges that affect women’s economic independence, we believe we can leverage our grantmaking for increased opportunities for women. We funded the advocacy work of 9 to 5 Colorado, and the Colorado Center on Law and Policy to research and publish Overlooked and Undercounted, a report that provides a more accurate measure of income adequacy based on the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Colorado.
Chambers Family Fund made investments in new projects that build women’s philanthropy. We supported Women Moving Millions, a partnership of visionary donors and the Women’s Funding Network that is increasing the number of women making gifts of $1 million or more to women’s funds throughout the world. At the heart of this initiative is the recognition that women’s contributions to women’s funds are key to lasting social change. By the end of 2007, the campaign had raised $75 million toward its goal of $150 million for women’s funds. Many women’s funds lack the skills and resources for a sustained successful major gift program. To address this need, Chambers Family Fund made a grant to the Women’s Funding Network to provide resources for member funds to build the skills, talent and expertise to cultivate new donors to women’s funds. In addition to the grant to the Women’s Funding Network, Chambers Family Fund participated in the campaign by making a $1 million grant to The Women’s Foundation of Colorado.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado made significant progress in creating pathways to economic self-sufficiency for women and girls in Colorado. An occurrence known as the “Cliff Effect” became a top priority for its research and public policy reform efforts in 2007. A “Cliff Effect” happens when a small increase in income results in a loss of work support benefits which help working women close the gap between low earnings and cost of living expenses. The result is that while women can earn more, their families are worse off than they were before the wage increase. The Women’s Foundation of Colorado is developing policy reform strategies to mitigate this effect.
Chambers Family Fund continued to invest in systemic solutions and increased public awareness so that decisionmakers and the public alike understand the real outcomes of public policy decisions. We continued our general support of The Bell Policy Center for its research, education and policy work. Now in its seventh year, it has established a solid track record of successes. Foremost among those was building a coalition for change that led to one of Colorado’s most significant fiscal policy achievements in more than a decade.
The future of Colorado’s fiscal stability remains the single most important issue for The Bell Policy Center. Preliminary findings show that the state may not be able to fund future services at levels to compete economically with peer states or meet the needs of its citizens. In collaboration with several partner organizations, The Bell Policy Center has begun work on developing a single, reputable source of data about future fiscal conditions and challenges that will provide a solid baseline of information for discussions, public education and proposed solutions.
Chambers Family Fund made new investments in projects that increase opportunities for women to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. We supported Prevention First Colorado, a coalition of nonprofit organizations working to support the reproductive health of women and girls in Colorado through education, research and policy. Its primary focus is to help reduce unintended pregnancy and enable effective family-planning choices that promote the health of women, children and families. We also funded a pilot project in Arizona and New Mexico that engages Latina leaders in reproductive health and rights issues and policy. This project addresses the need for a more inclusive framework for developing effective policies around the disproportionate level of unintended pregnancies within underserved communities. Chambers Family Fund provided a multi-year challenge grant to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains for the creation of a new “flagship” facility. This new center will provide high quality reproductive health care and education services with increased access for low income women.
In 2007 there was a window of opportunity to improve the early care and education of children in Colorado. We partnered with other foundations to fund early childhood systems planning within the lieutenant governor’s office. The newly created Early Childhood Systems Office will oversee a comprehensive early childhood system for the state that links and improves the quality of programs and services for young children and their families. The office will coordinate the development of a state policy infrastructure to guarantee the long lasting impact of investments in early childhood systems at the state and local levels.
We attended a national meeting of business, foundation and political leaders hosted by the Telluride Community Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts and Partnership for America’s Economic Success initiative. Participants learned about new findings on the economic benefits of investments in young children, discussed options for achieving needed change and developed principles to guide the improvement of systems that ensure the successful development of young children.
In October 2007, Clayton Early Learning, formerly known as The Clayton Foundation, held its public grand opening celebration of the new Clayton Educare Center, a high quality birth to five childcare and early education center on the historic Clayton campus. Recognized as a national model of quality to better prepare young children for success in school, Educare Centers provide early care and education to infants, toddlers and preschoolers growing up in low income families. Chambers Family Fund provided the lead gift of $2 million that launched the campaign to build the new Educare Center. Clayton Educare is one of seven centers in the country that shares information and showcases best practices for practitioners and policymakers. In preparation for the opening and recognition of the opportunity for Clayton Early Learning to distinguish its mission and identity to the public, we funded communications consulting that resulted in its new name and new logo.
Sustaining support of the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art is a major focus of our arts and culture funding. The museum is housed in a 1911 Arts & Crafts building, the oldest commercial art building in Denver. Kirkland Museum displays an internationally important collection of decorative art from 1880 to 1980 with more than 3,300 works on view. Regional modernist art with a focus on Colorado is also exhibited and the museum features a retrospective of Colorado’s distinguished painter, Vance Kirkland (1904-1981).
Recognizing unique opportunities that build a strong arts and culture infrastructure is an important value within the Arts and Culture priority area. Chambers Family Fund invested in the long term future of a new museum in Denver by offering a challenge gift to build a permanent endowment for the Clyfford Still Museum. In addition to Chambers Family Fund’s endowment challenge, a second gift from an anonymous donor was secured and the combined challenge will result in a $1 million founding endowment for the museum.
Performing arts organizations from around the world will gather in Denver in 2008 for the National Performing Arts Convention. Chambers Family Fund provided a grant to help underwrite this important opportunity for the performing arts community to gather and lay the foundation for future collaborations, cooperative programs and effective advocacy. As in years past, Chambers Family Fund made sustaining grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to support various arts and cultural organizations throughout the state.
As we look back on the past ten years, we are proud of our accomplishments within our priority areas and the positive impact of our grants and partnerships. Between 1997 and 2007, we invested $27 million in over 300 different organizations. Our grants and initiatives have helped address inequalities and barriers to economic self-sufficiency; promoted justice, equality and opportunity; prepared young children and their families for a successful future; and enhanced Colorado’s arts and cultural community and quality of life.
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