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Rural Philanthropy Days affects change in the region

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Photo by Don Benjamin Last week's Rural Philanthropy Days included opportunities for grant seekers and grant-makers to interact during roundtable discussions. Eighty-five percent of those attending were from community groups which were seeking grant funds

For 27 years, local communities have worked to coordinate Rural Philanthropy Days (RPD) in partnership with Community Resource Center (CRC), Anschutz Family Foundation and statewide grantmakers.

Last week, Community Resource Center hosted its Rural Philanthropy Days Conference on the Western Slope, bringing together community members and statewide funders for three days of development and learning.

Although the conference was hosted in the North Fork Valley, community members from all over the region, including Delta, Eagle, Garfield, Mesa and Pitkin counties attended.

The conference included many opportunities for learning alongside peers. Participants attended trainings on fund development, grantwriting, civic engagement and many more topics relevant to rural organizations; local nonprofits and agencies presented their community strengthening work in panels and roundtables.

Networking was a key theme of the event. Local organizations met with statewide funders face-to-face, discussing the funder's grantmaking goals, and even had the opportunity to make a financial ask to funders. Western Slope community members from all over the region made new connections with fellow change-makers at RPD's many networking opportunities.

In 1989, only three percent of grants from Colorado's private funding community were awarded outside of the Front Range, according to research conducted at the time by CRC. In response, the Anschutz Family Foundation initiated the Colorado Rural Philanthropy Days program in partnership with CRC as a way to encourage Front Range foundations to travel to and become better acquainted with different rural regions in the state.

More than 350 people attended this year's Western Slope RPD. That would not have been possible without the planning and support of the Western Slope Steering Committee, event volunteers from the region, and the towns of Hotchkiss and Paonia.

In addition, CRC credited the many sponsors statewide whose support made the conference so triumphant.

CRC creates opportunities, tools and strategies to develop nonprofits and community groups to strengthen Colorado. It believes in the power of the nonprofit sector to affect change and support thriving communities and envisions a strong and sustainable nonprofit sector leading the state toward a more just future.

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