Chambers Family Fund made grants of nearly $2 million in 2010 that included past multi-year grant commitments and a small number of new grant commitments. Fiscal reform and reproductive rights were priorities. Since 2007, we have funded The Bell Policy Center, Colorado Children’s Campaign and Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute and have supported their partnership to address fiscal reform issues in Colorado. This Looking Forward collaborative work will continue in 2011 to engage Coloradans in a conversation about expanding opportunity, identifying the appropriate role of the public sector, ensuring a prosperous future and what we are willing to do to ensure that future.
Additional grants to The Bell Policy Center and Colorado Nonprofit Association for fiscal reform allowed these organizations to educate Coloradans and nonprofits about the catastrophic impacts if our state continues on its current fiscal path.
Years of hard work paid off for The Bell Policy Center in May 2010 when Governor Bill Ritter signed the payday lending bill into law. The Governor singled out the Bell at the signing ceremony, saying its work had been critical to the bill's success. In 2002, the Bell identified predatory lending as a crippling practice that holds back too many families, preventing them from building wealth and achieving economic self-sufficiency. The Bell conducted research on payday lending, its victims and impacts and laws in other states and published reports on payday lending and the devastating impact it was having on Coloradans.
The women’s funds that Chambers Family Fund created and supports continue to thrive and address issues relevant to their states. Addressing the gender wage gap through policy and public education is a priority for the Wyoming Women’s Foundation. On a national level, women are paid 78 cents for every dollar a man is paid. In Wyoming, women make only 63 cents for every dollar a man is paid, the largest gender wage disparity in the United States. The women’s foundation adapted the WAGE Project model to Wyoming and provides wage negotiation workshops across the state. Also, the women’s foundation created an email alert entitled Legislative Watch 2010 to provide updates on bills during the 2010 legislative session that impacted women of Wyoming.
In October 2010, the Wyoming Women’s Foundation hosted a luncheon in Cheyenne to mark its tenth anniversary and celebrate ten years of grantmaking to benefit Wyoming’s women and girls. Merle Chambers was recognized for creating the women’s foundation. In her remarks at the luncheon, Merle reflected on why she started the foundation, the importance of the work the foundation does and progress that has been made in women’s philanthropy during the last two decades.
The Women’s Foundation of Montana led a payday lending reform ballot initiative in 2010 and allocated $25,000 to support the effort. Under Montana law, lenders could charge up to 650% annual interest on payday loans and 300% annual interest on car title loans. Between 2005 and 2008, more than $35 million was paid in interest and fees to predatory lenders in Montana. On November 2nd the initiative passed, capping the annual interest rate on payday and car title loans at 36%.
The Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma partnered with the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition and Smart Start Oklahoma to collect data and recommend an action plan to increase continuing education for low income single mothers. With funding from the women’s foundation, the partners anticipate a two to three year implementation plan followed by evaluation in year five. “Higher Education Opportunities for Oklahoma Single Mothers” will include policy recommendations that increase educational access and affordability for women.
As part of our Women’s Funds Initiative in North Dakota, we funded the North Dakota Women’s Network. Although it is not a women’s fund, this policy organization meets Chambers Family Fund’s goal of statewide impact for women and girls. The women’s network led a coalition to create the North Dakota Economic Security and Prosperity Alliance. It began as a coalition of advocates with an early purpose of promoting passage of a state earned income tax credit (EITC). Although the legislation failed, the coalition continued and has developed a State Fiscal Analysis Initiative (SFAI). The SFAI provides research and analysis of state budget and tax policies, with particular attention to the effects on low and moderate income people.
The annual Women’s Funding Network conference was held in Denver in April, 2010. Chambers Family Fund was a local host along with Jewish Women’s Fund of Colorado, Urgent Action Fund and The Women’s Foundation of Colorado. These four Colorado foundations are members of the Women’s Funding Network. A Welcome Reception for the Women’s Funding Network conference, underwritten by Chambers Family Fund, was held at The Merle Catherine Chambers Center for the Advancement of Women. Chris Grumm, President of the Women’s Funding Network introduced Merle who shared her vision for the building.
Representatives from the women’s funds in Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming that were created and supported by Chambers Family Fund were in Denver to attend the Women’s Funding Network conference. Chambers Family Fund hosted a meeting to discuss strategy and share information as they continue to learn from their colleagues in other women’s funds within community foundations.
In 2010, a Senate Bill codified an Executive Order that created the Colorado Early Childhood Leadership Commission to effectively coordinate federal and state funded services for children from birth to age eight. Lt. Governor Barbara O’Brien served as Governor for the day and signed the bill making the commission part of Colorado state statutes. Establishing a vehicle to coordinate and seek efficiencies to improve access to quality services for children in Colorado has been a long term goal that has finally been realized.
This new state commission allowed the state to apply for a $1.3 million grant over three years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for staffing and funding of the Colorado Early Childhood Leadership Commission. Chambers Family Fund partnered with Rose Community Foundation and the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation to fund the cost of applying for the grant for which Colorado received the funding in June.
Chambers Family Fund made the lead gift to build the Clayton Educare Center, one of a network of Educare centers across the country. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Head Start, recognized Clayton Educare as a “Center of Excellence.” This was the first year this award had been designated, and Clayton was among the first ten Head Start programs nationwide to receive the award and the only Educare Center selected. Clayton will receive $1 million in funding over the next five years to provide outreach to other Colorado and national Head Start and early childhood education programs and deepen its unique evidence-based practices.
Chambers Family Fund’s early care and education funding was highlighted at a Council on Foundations site visit to Clayton Early Learning. Along with Chambers Family Fund, Rose Community Foundation and Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation shared the story of foundation support of early care and education for the past decade in Colorado. Attendees also heard about the success of the Denver Preschool Program, a taxpayer-funded initiative to send every Denver four year old to a high quality preschool.
Chambers Family Fund provides annual funding for Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art. In 2010, Kirkland Museum opened a well-received exhibition at the Arvada Center with a show titled Kirkland Museum Collection: 100+ Years of Colorado Art. This exhibition became Kirkland Museum’s first traveling show, continuing to the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art. A show at Kirkland Museum, The Furniture of Eero Saarinen: Designs for Everyday Living, featured the work of Saarinen and decorative art created by architects.
The number of visitors to Kirkland Museum increased in 2010, to more than 13,000. In addition to the hours spent in training, the museum’s docents provided over 3,600 volunteer hours. Kirkland Museum borrowed objects, including furniture and decorative arts, from six lenders for its Saarinen exhibition and 278 objects from the museum’s collection were loaned to four separate exhibitions. We are proud of the growth and national recognition Kirkland Museum has received.
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