Twenty years ago, Jerry Groswold, the President/CEO of Winter Park Resort from 1975 to 1997, was inundated with donation requests from local non-profits.
He soon had the vision to create a community foundation to impact the county’s non-profits on a larger scale. He saw the need to pool resources from businesses and individuals in order to give larger dollar amounts to organizations serving the Grand County community.
Groswold founded the Columbine Community Foundation to complete this vision. (The name was later changed to the Grand Foundation in 2000 to better represent the county as a whole and to allow the name, Columbine Community Foundation, to be used by others after the Columbine High School tragedy.)
Groswold’s vision commenced with founding partners who each donated to the Grand Pass Program – Winter Park Resort, Granby Ranch, YMCA of the Rockies and the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District. The passes allowed individuals unlimited skiing at Winter Park and Ski Granby Ranch, one round of golf at Pole Creek, and Nordic skiing at the YMCA. The 40 transferable passes sold for an average of $750 each and ultimately began the first round of grants in 1997 with $30,000. The Grand Pass program now garners over $300,000 each year with 160 passes that include more year-round benefits at even more locations than the original.
The Grand Foundation’s impact is immeasurable within our county. Since its inception in 1996, it has awarded over $7.3 Million in grants to nonprofits for education, sports, health & human services, arts & culture, and the environment.
The Foundation gives to nearly 200 diverse non-profits ranging from the Bits-n-Spurs Gymkhana series, Grand County Blues Society, Colorado Headwaters Land Trust, Grand County Council on Aging, and Grand County Advocates to name just a few.
In one successful partnership, Grand Angels estimates that over the last five years, they were able to assist 4,000 individuals living in the county through their Loaves and Fish fundraiser and the matching grant assistance provided by the Foundation. In addition to the grants, the Foundation oversees 15 Donor Advised Funds including the G.A.P. Fund for Youth that helps children 18 and under participate in non-academic activities and programs; the Brammer Family Fund that was established to provide financial assistance to Grand County residents and their families affected by cancer; the East Grand Education Foundation Fund which provides alternative funding for educational opportunities in East Grand; and the Fraser Valley Foundation Fund which focuses on organization’s basic needs such as rental assistance. These additional Donor Advised Funds require additional fundraising and are supported by creative events such as the “Kickin’ it to Cancer” kickball tournament and the East Grand Education Foundation Fund Holiday Dinner which is limited to 80 seats and sells for $175 per seat.
The Foundation also administers and facilitates philanthropy for other entities, such as the Town of Winter Park and the Grand County Board of County Commissioners. The Grand Foundation also played a vital role in the publicprivate partnership in the Safe Highway 9 project by acting as the Fiscal Agent to raise 20% of the project’s overall funding ($9.2 Million). Ultimately, the Grand Foundation was able to collect 100% of the money pledged to the project. The Foundation is also gives more to organizations through their three signature fundraising events – the Grand Gala, Grand Classic and the Winemaker’s Dinner.
This year the Grand Gala’s secondary beneficiary was the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo in Kremmling to support its Centennial Celebration. Those who attended the 100th Anniversary Fair were treated by the Gala Committee and the Foundation to free admission.
The Grand Foundation is managed by four employees – Executive Director Megan Ledin, Office Administrator Kymberly Lund, Grants Manager Stacy Starr and Events Coordinator Hannah Cox. The Foundation is governed by 16 board members from across the county – Jennifer Colley, Gretta Fosha, Roger Hedlund, Trueman Hoffmeister, Jancie Hughes, Jim Kennedy, Nick Kutrumbos, C.A. Lane, Sheri Lock, Shelly Neibauer, Greg Norwick, Mike Ritschard, Catherine Ross, Dennis Saffell, Trinna Tressler, and Ben Watson.
Grand Angels writes, “In addition to the financial support, the guidance and encouragement they (the Grand Fo u n d a t io n) have provided mean the world to this all volunteer team. All that we have come in contact in our dealings with Grand Foundation are professional, exper ienced, c a r i n g , responsive and a great asset to Grand County. Thank you for being there for us and for helping make Grand County even more GRAND.” The Foundation also boasts over 900 volunteers. “They support us with their time on an annual basis. We couldn’t do it without them,” said Executive Director Ledin. In the future, the Grand Foundation hopes to bring higher, continuing and career & technology education to Grand County residents, and has recently hired a Higher Education Coordinator to pursue that goal. In honor of its late founder who passed last November, the Foundation is launching its Endowment Campaign on January 1, 2017.
The Groswold Endowment Fund of the Grand Foundation will ensure future sustainability of the foundation and will make it more self-reliant so that it can continue to generously give to nonprofits and those in need. Groswold is fondly remembered as saying, “You always give back more than you take,” and the Foundation has definitely embodied this philosophy.