2020 ANNUAL REPORT HIGHLIGHTS
Unprecedented. That is the first word that comes to mind when reflecting upon the year that was 2020. The world came to a standstill, grappling with two pandemics: COVID-19 and systemic racism. Both continue to wreak havoc with the first highlighting the long-embedded inequities of the second. For Chambers Fund, 2020 was a year of action and reflection. Action came in the form of Chambers Initiative, welcoming Alexandra Acker-Lyons as Director of Strategic Initiatives to advise the foundation on its grantmaking, and Merle Chambers in her personal philanthropy. Action also meant adding COVID-19 relief to our grantmaking, mainly to direct service organizations typically outside our normal priorities, but vital to the recovery of our state. And reflection as we develop a racial equity lens for our grantmaking, adding that alongside a long-held gender-equity priority. We are also committed to understanding – and working against – the historical role of philanthropy in upholding white supremacist power structures and systems.
COVID-19 Relief and Recovery
Chambers Fund prioritizes funding to organizations engaged in advocacy, policy, and systems change over those providing direct services. But there was no ignoring the immediate needs COVID-19 created for families across our state. The foundation made $375,000 in COVID-relief related grants to Colorado nonprofits, approximately one-third of which went to grantees making direct payments to support individuals and families most impacted by the pandemic. Support was focused on assistance to immigrants, refugees, workers without documentation, and BIPOC women-led families, particularly single adult households.
Program Area Grantmaking
With a long-overdue reckoning on systemic racism coming to a head in our country and the philanthropic sector, the foundation hosted staff and board trainings toward the end of 2020 as a start to the ongoing process of building a racial equity lens into its grantmaking. The board prioritized giving to organizations led by or focused on people of color, and under-resourced and under-represented communities.
As part of Chambers Initiative, the foundation substantially increased grantmaking within its Equity & Democracy program area. Chambers Fund focused on national and Colorado organizations engaged in non-partisan voter registration education, mobilization, and messaging efforts to ensure every vote was counted. The foundation also made unrestricted grants to long-time Colorado policy grantees working on various research and advocacy issues ranging from fair tax and TABOR-related fiscal tangles to expanded income eligibility for Medicaid family planning services.
We know the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected women. Alongside pro-democracy funding, the foundation also made unrestricted grants to organizations in Colorado and nationally within its Women’s Economic Security (WES) program area. In 2020, Chambers Fund’s WES grantees focused on improving the lives of women and girls, particularly women and girls of color, through advocacy and policy systems change to create economic opportunity and mobility for women and their families.
Please see our 2020 Grantees Page for more information.