If Ethan Hemming, president/CEO of Warren Village, looks like he is walking on air these days, you can credit the spring in his step to United Airlines. On June 29, Steve Jaquith, UAL’s vice president of Denver operations, announced that Warren Village is UAL’s Denver nonprofit partner—an honor that comes with a $1 million gift and a four-year commitment to having a cadre of UAL employees volunteer at the Denver nonprofit that since 1974 has worked to break the cycle of poverty by providing safe and affordable housing and other services to low-income, single-parent families.
The money will enable Warren Village to enhance the strength and quality of its programs and support further expansion of its community impact.
Gov. John Hickenlooper described United’s investment in Warren Village as “Exactly the kind of support our nonprofits need,” a point echoed by Renny Fagan, president/CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association, and Dave Sevick, Firefly Autism’s vice president of marketing and development.
“Philanthropic support from businesses and corporations is absolutely critical,” Sevick says. “But it goes deeper than simply financial. Many companies that sponsor events benefiting Firefly (and other nonprofits) encourage their employees to get involved, ensuring that our volunteer base remains strong and active. Quite simply, we could not do what we do every day without our corporate partners.”
With some 20,000 charitable nonprofit organizations operating in Colorado, Fagan agrees that corporate support is “Essential to maintaining the vibrancy of our community.”
Alpine Bank gave $3.7 million in 2017, money that helped support 500 nonprofits in 28 communities statewide. Miller Coors/MolsonCoors recently gave $1 million-plus in services and equipment that enabled Colorado State University to put together a brewing system used to train students enrolled in the Fermentation Science and Technology Program. And, in partnership with Wells Fargo and PepsiCo, the beer-making company contributed $1 million toward a forest restoration project spearheaded by The Nature Conservancy that will improve water quality in the Front Range.
IMA Financial, through its IMA Foundation, “adopted” Bryant-Webster Elementary School in Denver 10 years ago, giving 13 employees release time every week to tutor students in math and literacy. IMA employees also help Volunteers of America by serving food to elderly on a weekly basis; they also join with Food for Thought to fill bags of food for students in the Denver Public Schools to take home on the weekends when their families might not have the resources to feed them. In 2017, IMA employees recorded 13,298 volunteer hours and the foundation contributed funds to 100 nonprofits working in the fields of arts and culture, education and advancing youth.
Xcel Energy supported Colorado nonprofits to the tune of $8.21 million in 2017, focusing on causes like STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum for students in kindergarten through 12th grade; environmental stewardship and access to art and cultural programs in Title 1 schools, especially those in rural areas of the state. The company is especially proud of the funding it gives to the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus and its efforts to bring entertaining and informative programming to underserved schools across the seven-county metro area.
“Giving back to the community means more to us than just writing a check,” observes FirstBank CEO Jim Reuter. “It’s dedicating our time and energy, volunteering and serving on boards and committees to help charitable causes from the Autism Society to the YMCA.” In 2017, FirstBank awarded $3.7 million to charities in Colorado, Arizona and California; in addition, the bank each year partners with the Community First Foundation to sponsor Colorado Gives Day, which in 2017 raised $36.1 million for 2,309 Colorado nonprofits. Colorado Gives Day 2018 is set for Dec. 4.
Over the past five years Bank of America has distributed $2 million to Colorado nonprofits; most recently it was the presenting sponsor for Urban Nights, a food, fashion and entertainment extravaganza that raised a record $750,000 for Urban Peak and its efforts on behalf of homeless youths. Oakwood Homes supports 50 metro-area charities per year, with a focus on those dedicated to early childhood education, affordable housing and human services.
For 40 years Jake Jabs, the president/CEO of American Furniture Warehouse, has celebrated his success by supporting causes that range from Easter Seals and Project C.U.R.E. to TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) and Toys for Tots. The Ball Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Ball Corp., puts special emphasis on nonprofit organizations in the communities surrounding corporate headquarters in Broomfield. Gifts in 2017 went to such groups as the American Red Cross, Boulder Community Housing Corporation, the Can’d Aid Foundation and the Denver Scholarship Foundation.
Corporate support makes the struggle to survive a bit easier for Colorado’s 20,000 nonprofit organizations. Some of the most generous are:
Xcel Energy, $8.21 million
FirstBank Holding Co., $3.86 million
Alpine Bank, $3.7 million
Target Stores, $2.23 million
Ball Corp., $2.13 million
CoBank, $1.97 million
Great-West Financial/Empower Retirement, $2.8 million
Bank of America, $2-plus million to Colorado nonprofits over past five years
American Furniture Warehouse, $1.47 million
Joanne Davidson learned quite a bit about corporate philanthropy during the 30 years that she spent covering charitable fundraising events for The Denver Post, including the fact that all gifts are appreciated, no matter how large or how small.
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