What a year! It’s hard to believe we’re already in mid-January. Before we get too much distance between us and the end of 2022, we want to share a few highlights from last year. These efforts were made possible by the support of generous donors and volunteers like you, and we hope you’ll celebrate our collective impact in 2022.
Community Grants has long been a flagship program for us at CFGV, and in 2022 we proudly awarded over $162,000 through the annual competitive cycle to individual organizations and collaborations. One of the best parts of our Community Grants program is seeing the diversity in missions and programs offered by nonprofits in the Gunnison Valley. It’s hard to identify an aspect of life in the Gunnison Valley that isn’t shaped by their work.
Over the past few years, we have been tweaking the structure of Community Grants. In 2021, we offered collaborative grants for the first time, and funded three projects. Building on that success, we awarded two additional collaborative grants in 2022. In 2022, we also offered our first ever two-year grants. These grants were awarded to Gunnison Arts Center, Adaptive Sports Center, Crested Butte Nordic, Gunnison Valley Animal Welfare League, Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, Gunnison Country Food Pantry, Mountain Roots Food Project, and Six Points Evaluation & Training. These two-year grants give local nonprofit leaders the security to pursue additional funding from outside the Gunnison Valley knowing that their support from Community Grants is already secured for a second year.
For a full list of 2022 Grant recipients, click here.
Gatherings: Sandbox Sessions and Nonprofit Leadership Happy Hours
After the isolation of the early phases of the COVID pandemic, we were all ready to come together again. In 2022, we brought back nonprofit happy hours for executive directors and board chairs, and we also added a new program we call “Sandbox Sessions.” These happy hours and Sandbox Sessions offered the chance for folks to come together informally, share ideas, and find new connections in their work.
Sandbox Sessions were particularly exciting because we stepped outside of the nonprofit sector and invited business leaders, government staff members, elected officials, and educators to join us. We hosted a Sandbox Session for folks working in environment and sustainability in June and a second one for athletics and recreation in July. With lots of encouragement to keep these conversations going, we have our first Session of 2023 (arts and culture) scheduled for January 18.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
Thanks to a partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, every child under the age of 5 who lives in Gunnison and Hinsdale Counties is eligible to receive monthly, free, age-appropriate books in their mailbox. Through the Imagination Library, 333 children received 3,210 books in 2022. If you are a caregiver to a child under age 5 and you haven’t signed up for the program yet, please register here.
Over the last decade or so in the Gunnison Valley, we’ve seen a strong push towards working together. From One Valley Prosperity Project to the Gunnison Valley Humanity Posse on Facebook and more, we’ve seen more and more people embrace the idea that everyone in the community benefits when we pool resources and tackle challenges together. During the last few years, as the predominant media message has been of a fractured country, we’ve seen a different story here. Instead of letting divisiveness and discord win, we’re building stronger relationships. We took part in a few exciting collaborations in 2022 and look forward to those efforts continuing in 2023.
The Community Health Coalition, informed by the State of the Community Report issued in spring of 2022, has formed three working subgroups, each with its own goal: to make services and resources more accessible and available to all community members; to increase a wide-spread sense of belonging for youth and minority populations; and to increase workforce wellness, retention and development. We were a founding member of this group and are working on ways to attract and deploy additional resources in support of the work.
Our work with the Resiliency Project (in partnership with the City of Gunnison and the Gunnison Country Chamber of Commerce), has revived neighborhoods and enhanced community engagement valley-wide, but especially in Gunnison. In 2022, the Resiliency Project awarded microgrants to nurture community ties among neighbors in Gunnison, sponsored several mobile concerts in downtown Gunnison, and continued our tradition of winter solstice luminarias for the third year in a row. If you’re not familiar with the Resiliency Project, check out these recent articles from Collective Colorado and the Gunnison Country Times.
In 2022, we also engaged with the complicated challenge that is affordable housing in the Gunnison Valley. Recognizing that our role is certainly not to build affordable housing, we did see a place where we could make an impact by convening stakeholders and providing a common context for the community. The result of the effort is both the Community Housing in the Gunnison Valley Report (an overview of the challenge, efforts to date, groups working on the problem, and an analysis of the resources needed to make a meaningful impact in addressing the problem) and also a decision to pull together the groups working on housing to build a Regional Housing Strategy. If you would like to learn more about the regional Housing Action Team, please email Lauren.
TICtalks: Thrive, Inspire, Connect
We hosted our inaugural TICtalks in September of 2022, inviting community members to join us for inspiring talks by some of Gunnison Valley’s most interesting, innovative, and creative individuals. Challenged with presenting a big idea that could transform the Gunnison Valley, our speakers delivered talks on social capital’s relationship to the need for community housing, universal basic income, microgrants, how to grow through change, and more. If you haven’t watched the videos from our two nights of TICtalks, we encourage you to check them out. We’re still finalizing details for the 2023 TICtalks, but we’re hoping to host them on three different nights in three different locations throughout the year.
While 2022 has come to an end, the work in these areas continues and our program team is cooking up even more great ideas for 2023 (some of which we’ll be announcing in the next couple of months). To stay up to date on everything we’re working on, get invitations to CFGV events, and stay in touch, we invite you to subscribe to our email newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.