Food Insecurity Solutions
This past winter, a strong group of entrepreneurs, nonprofits, consumers, local government, and philanthropic investors brought resources, heart, and knowledge together to address the challenges surrounding local Food Insecurity. The community input was significant and informing.
The highest priority recommendation suggested that the community invest in a newly organized initiative to add people, operations, infrastructure, and other resources to increase access to food throughout the valley. The most widely supported program idea is the creation of comprehensive food pantry and food distribution system that leverages federal food security programs and community support. Our Community Foundation is currently conducting the feasibility of a broad scale local food security solution.
Eagle County benefits from a generous philanthropic community that easily connects with the largest local nonprofits. By increasing awareness of local issues and the smaller nonprofits that are addressing critical issues, OCF seeks to develop new financial resources to improve the quality of life for those that need the assistance of smaller nonprofit organizations, and especially organizations operating outside the well-funded areas of art, music, culture and event production.
OCF seeks to raise awareness of organizations that are focused on addressing the basic needs of local residents including hunger, healthcare, education and housing; and to match donor interests to local needs.
For example, the local Salvation Army food pantry was unexpectedly de-funded by a government organization creating a budget deficit. OCF coordinated with the Western Colorado Community Foundation to bring $25,000 in new funding from outside of Eagle County to this critical service.
In another example, a new donor interested in the mental health of local military veterans approached OCF. We requested a program proposal from a local organization that is designing and will manage services to reduce local mental health issues for veterans, and to address crisis situations when they arise. The new donor within the Eagle County community will fund this collaborative program.
The partnership between OCF and the WCCF is allowing local residents to increase their philanthropic activity through the creation of new donor advised funds (DAF). This new source of local funding allows donors to tap into OCF as a trusted advisor when determining how these funds are deployed in the community.
Fragmented Nonprofit Services
Eagle County is served by nearly 300 nonprofit organizations, of which about 50 have the professionalism and scale that maximizes their impact. These organizations are qualified 501(c)(3) charities with clear missions and a history of community impact. However, these organizations are generally focused on their specific and independent mission and do not collaborate or coordinate with related organizations. The result is less impact than would otherwise be achieved, less efficiency due to redundant and smaller scale operations, and a less compelling message to the donor community.
OCF has launched a nonprofit leadership gathering that meets twice per year to introduce Executive Directors and board members to each other and to build relationships that support collaboration rather than competition. Over 70 nonprofit leaders generally attend this meeting.
We actively manage the AmeriCorps VISTA program with a current staff of six VISTA members who work to identify local issues that can benefit by bringing together multiple organizations that create a single effective program.