Overview of Proposals
These organizations have applied for a transformational grant of $100,000. Organizations that apply for this grant must have budgets between $500,000 and $5,000,000, have two years of audited financials, serve constituents who primarily live in the metro Denver area, and provide services that fit within this year’s three focus areas (i.e., Education and Lifelong Learning, Economic Opportunity and Self-sufficiency, and/or Health and Wellness). The 34-member Grants Committee reviewed more than 30 proposals for their transformational impact, sustainability, constituent engagement and diversity, equity and inclusion, and the organization’s ability to evaluate the impact of their work. Semi-finalists received a written evaluation, as well as a site visit. The Grants Committee selected the following three proposals as the finalists for your consideration.
Southwest Improvement Council (SWIC)
Organization overview: Southwest Improvement Council (SWIC) was founded in 1988 to provide supportive services for youth and older adults in Southwest Denver. Over the years, SWIC has shifted its focus to seniors and expanded services to address wellness, health promotion, disease prevention, nutrition, socialization, and aging-in-place. SWIC provides vital support services annually to 960 low-income seniors who reside in southwest Denver. It provides daily hot lunches, a food pantry, social and recreational activities, health and wellness education, tax support services, special culturally centered activities (e.g., Native American Elders’ Oyate and Asian gatherings), and housing counseling/education.
Proposal description: SWIC largely has been operating with very little automation. The only donor data records are copies of recent thank you letters, many of which don’t include the needed documentation. Today, nonprofit organizations that are not just surviving, but thriving have strong development efforts, focused on building relationships with donors. To do that, many nonprofits invest in Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) software, which is an automated donor management system. The overarching purpose of a CRM is to track donations and communication with donors, build mailing lists and generate appeals, mass emails, newsletters and other fundraising materials for distribution. Additionally, most distribution of fundraising materials are done via multi-channel platforms, which essentially is not possible without electronic management systems. It’s also common among nonprofits to have a viable and accessible website for donors that has a safe, secure multi-payment option. And, finally, at least one staff person is vital to manage data input, do research, create and generate solicitation pieces and thank you letters, stay on top of state and federal donation compliance and ultimately assist the Executive Director in building a donor base that can be nurtured and grown in the years to come. SWIC requests an Impact100 grant to provide the foundational support that it needs to springboard its development effort and the organization into a sustainable future by hiring a Development Operations Coordinator, purchasing and maintaining an efficient CRM and reconstructing the organization’s website.
Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute (RMMFI)
Organization Overview: Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute (RMMFI) exists to define clear pathways for social and economic mobility for its entrepreneurs by creating impact through its programs in the following areas:
- Development of a vibrant and inclusive local economy via entrepreneurship and small businesses.
- Access to mainstream business and financial services via technical assistance and professional mentorships.
- Investment in entrepreneurs via loans and grants, who then re-invest in their communities as owners, employers, and local leaders. Since 2008, RMMFI has graduated 51 cohorts of its Business Launch Boot Camp with an 85% graduation rate, resulting in the launch or expansion of 406 businesses in Denver, Aurora, and the San Luis Valley, and distributed $1,059,335 across 342 loans with a 94% repayment rate. RMMFI is a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with the U.S. Treasury.
Proposal Description: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, RMMFI was an in-person-focused organization, and its programs were not centered around computers or online learning. They supported entrepreneurs keeping handwritten financials or business plans in binders. In March 2020, RMMFI quickly pivoted to online learning, leveraging existing tools they had in place. RMMFI loaned its constituents Chromebooks, purchased for use in their programs; used Google Forms and Sheets to support learning activities and moved all classes onto Zoom. RMMFI facilitated specialized workshops to support entrepreneurs as it grew its virtual marketplace footprint. RMMFI’s quick response and vigilance in providing uninterrupted services created a burst of access to new communities via online programming. This massive growth has exacerbated and identified the limits of RMMFI’s ability to support the community’s learning, lending, and marketplace needs. RMMFI requires essential upgrades to its lending systems, learning platform and overall website accessibility to meet the needs of the expanding RMMFI community.
RMMFI seeks an Impact100 Metro Denver Grant to fund technology-enabled transformations in three key areas: (1) A Learning Management System (LMS) for integrated delivery of RMMFI business education programs and technical assistance, (2) A dynamic website transformation that will accommodate dramatically increased web traffic from RMMFI’s multiple stakeholders, and (3) LenderFit software to enhance and streamline CDFI lending and grants processes for RMMFI program graduates and staff. These enhancements will enable RMMFI to provide state-of-the-art technical assistance, loans, grants, and training in a dynamic online environment, supplemented by its hybrid entrepreneur training programs that take place both in-person and online. RMMFI seeks to streamline the staff experience and for its program participants. The LMS will provide a user-friendly, bilingual, highly accessible way to access all resources and materials offered by RMMFI. Improving the participant experience in the programs will lead to higher engagement rates, fewer ‘technology proficiency’ barriers to RMMFI programs, and, ultimately, more entrepreneurs served.
Organization Overview: The GrowHaus is a non-profit organization in North Denver providing food access as an entry point to building community health and wealth. The organization was founded in 2009 in North Denver’s Globeville/Elyria-Swansea (GES) community to serve as a hub for food access, education, and economic opportunity. GES is a vibrant immigrant community but, unfortunately, one of Denver’s oldest food deserts. Since 2009, The GrowHaus has expanded its reach throughout the Metro Denver area and is now a leader in community-driven solutions to food access and wellness throughout Colorado.
Proposal Description: The GrowHaus provides low-cost food boxes (‘El Mandadito’ or ‘The Essentials’ boxes) to 1,000 families each week. The GrowHaus distributes the boxes directly to family homes in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood and through partnerships with 14 Denver Public Library branches and seven Boys and Girls Clubs, and uses the food boxes as the starting point for further support in the community. Currently, the boxes are delivered using a third-party delivery service which limits The GrowHaus’ ability to build relationships with families experiencing food insecurity and connect them with other community resources. Furthermore, The GrowHaus is interested in expanding its reach to other neighborhoods lacking food access.
The GrowHaus is requesting an Impact100 grant to purchase two food access vehicles: a refrigerated van and a tow trailer (El Mandadito Mobile). These vehicles would transform how community members access fresh food and connect with health and wellness programming. El Mandadito Mobile would save The GrowHaus approximately $134,000 annually on delivery expenses. These funds would be used to strengthen existing programming and invest in leadership development opportunities for staff members.
The Accelerator Grant is a pilot multi-year grant, using trust-based principles to support small nonprofits resident in an historically underserved neighborhood led by individuals who are part of the neighborhood and reflect its diversity. Trust-based philanthropy reimagines the relationships between donors, nonprofits and communities to rebalance power and decision making. The nonprofit determines how the grant will be applied to provide momentum to its work and accelerate the ability of its organization to achieve its mission. Funds do not have to be spent on programs and may be used to help sustain the operations of the nonprofit.
The Southwest Denver area was selected for this pilot because this neighborhood appears in nearly each of the City and County of Denver’s equity maps, calling upon city leadership to invest additional attention and resources toward economic, educational, social and cultural opportunities.
This year, $25,000 was raised through the grant pool and a $2,000 one time award was possible from an Impact100 Metro Denver fund that is restricted for use by the DEI Committee. The Accelerator Grant is intended to be a three year grant, with $25,000 awarded each year.
Change to the Voting Process
The original intent was for there to be one selected winner ($25,000 for three years) and two runners-up, each receiving a one-time award. However, based on feedback from the Southwest Denver finalists the grant funds will be shared, instead of the organizations competing against each other.
Two organizations – Roots Family Center and In Lak’ech will equally split the $25,000 for each of the three years and D3 Arts will receive a one-time $2000 award. As a result, there is no need to vote to determine a winner…they are all winners.
– 501(c)3 or have a 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor
– Operating budget of $100,000-499,999
– Operating for at least three years in the Southwest Denver neighborhood.
– Can provide prior year Income Statement and Balance Sheet, as well as the budget for the current year
– Leadership and/or staff reflect the diverse community they serve.