Chambers Family Fund provided start-up support of strategic and business planning for Early Milestones Colorado, a nonprofit organization that advances success for young children across Colorado. Milestones works with public and private partners across Colorado and nationally to improve outcomes for children, prenatal to age eight, and their families. The organization fills a unique niche within the Colorado early childhood landscape by intentionally focusing statewide on accelerating efforts in all areas of early childhood development that are essential for young children to thrive. The demand for Milestones’ services is already evident from the number and type of projects it has been asked to manage. Ongoing and continuous evaluation of both the organization and the projects it takes on will measure impact and financial return on investment and ensure that lessons learned from each endeavor are rapidly diffused throughout the early childhood system.
Chambers Family Fund partnered with Bezos Family Foundation to plan the dissemination of Vroom brain building messaging for parents and caregivers in Colorado. In May, we hosted a demonstration of the Vroom tools for early childhood stakeholders. Chambers Family Fund also formed a funding collaborative to advise and create a dissemination plan for Vroom in Colorado.
The Early Childhood Colorado Framework was originally developed in 2008 as a resource and guide for a comprehensive early childhood system. In 2015, the Early Childhood Leadership Commission (ECLC) coordinated an inclusive and collaborative process to ensure the critical work of updating the Framework would be accomplished. Chambers Family Fund secured collaborative funding and foundation staff co-chaired the steering committee that updated the Framework. Public and private partners contributed resources to support the effort. More than 600 key stakeholders, including early childhood experts and providers, policymakers, foundations, early childhood coalitions and state agencies and departments participated in the process to ensure the Framework reflected future strategies and outcomes in early childhood in Colorado.
The updated Framework is a shared vision for early childhood in Colorado across early learning and development, health and well-being and family support and education. The plan incorporates the latest research in early childhood, including the importance of early learning and development prior to age three, the transition from preschool to kindergarten and the integration of social emotional development and health. The work was completed in six months and the Framework was released at a press conference with Governor Hickenlooper in September.
Ascend at the Aspen Institute invited 50 local, state and national cross-sector leaders from the fields of human services, early care and education, health and well-being, workforce development and postsecondary education to meet with government and policy institutions at a 2Gen Policymakers Institute in October. Representatives from seven states participated and Colorado had the largest and most diverse representation. From this meeting, the Colorado participants developed a road map for two-generation policy in Colorado and recommendations for practice and policy in 2016.
Chambers Family Fund supported Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP) to update the Colorado Self-Sufficiency Standard report. The report was released in June and the updated Basic Needs Budget Calculator was released in October. The self-sufficiency report analyzes how much income Colorado families in each of the state's 64 counties must earn to meet basic needs without public assistance, and the report offers one of the most comprehensive measures of economic security available. It is often referenced by managers of workforce training programs, direct service providers, policymakers, legislators and the media as a barometer for wage adequacy and policy effectiveness. The Basic Needs Budget Calculator enables policymakers, researchers and advocates to calculate the resources that a family of a given size and composition in different Colorado counties requires to meet basic needs. It also calculates the value of work supports (such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and SNAP) available to families as their earnings rise or fall.
For seven years, Chambers Family Fund followed the progress of the Colorado Initiative to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy, funded by the Susan T. Buffett Foundation. This initiative expanded the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Family Planning Program and had significant and quantifiable health, economic and societal impacts. It was a major public health success for the state and a model nationwide. Since the initiative began, the program provided more than 36,000 low- or no-cost birth control devices or implants to low-income women in Colorado, resulting in a 48 percent decrease in teen births. During the 2015 legislative session, long-term funding for the expanded Colorado Family Planning Program failed to pass the legislature.
Chambers Family Fund collaborated with foundations to provide more than $2 million to continue the expansion of the Family Planning Program. CDPHE relied on this short-term financial support to ensure that women had access to these services with minimal barriers. The bridge funding from the foundations allowed time for the state legislature to reconsider a long-term funding solution for family planning services in 2016.
Chambers Family Fund is providing funding for the construction of a new building that will house Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art near the Denver Art Museum and the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver's Golden Triangle Museum District. The new museum will offer visitors an enhanced experience while staying true to the salon style and intimate atmosphere for which the Kirkland is known. Groundbreaking was held at the new museum location at 12th Avenue and Bannock Street in September, and the new museum will be completed in fall 2017.
With the incentive of a new challenge and match from a private foundation, the Colorado Symphony created The Symphony Fund, a new endowment that will support the symphony. Chambers Family Fund made a $1,000,000 grant commitment to The Symphony Fund, anticipating that this early commitment will encourage others to contribute.
Chambers Family Fund made a $1,000,000 multi-year grant commitment to the Denver Art Museum for its capital campaign to renovate the North Building, also known as the Ponti-Sudler Building. This project will complete the Denver Art Museum campus, strengthen programs for all age groups and further engage the community.
In recognition of the important role they play in our state, the foundation made grants to other arts and culture organizations, providing essential support for Opera Colorado, Colorado Ballet and Aspen Music Festival and School.
The Chambers Family Fund Board of Directors is grateful to the many outstanding organizations in Colorado and around the country that work each day to provide opportunities for success and improved quality of life for those who need it most.
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