2023 Annual Survey

If you took the time to fill out our third annual community survey, thank you so much. We appreciate your thoughtfulness in providing us with your assessment of the current state of the Gunnison Valley.

Here is a summary of some of what we learned this year. Our sample size is fairly small, so instead of simply highlighting the numbers, we also reached out to organizations working in these issue areas to give you an idea of what people are working on.

Biggest Challenges Facing Our Community

One of the most important questions we ask every year is “in your opinion, what are the three biggest challenges facing the local community?” This question gives us a quick pulse-check of what’s causing stress in our community. It is interesting to see how perceptions have changed over the last three years, and how they’ve stayed the same.


For the third year running, housing affordability takes the top spot with 87% of survey respondents selecting it as one of the biggest issues facing our community. It’s clear from a quick scan of the newspapers and real estate listings that lack of affordable rental housing and home ownership opportunities continues to be a significant financial stressor for workers in the Gunnison Valley. While housing remains one of the biggest challenges facing the community, there is momentum among stakeholders working on affordable housing to work collaboratively. The recently formed Housing Task Force, co-led by the Valley Housing Fund, Williford Consulting, and the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority came about as a result of the One Valley Resiliency Roadmap and promises to increase regional alignment and efficiency in addressing the challenges we face with housing.

Habitat for Humanity of Gunnison Valley also works on affordable housing in our community. They have made huge strides in the last few years at building efficient homes bringing the long-term costs of homeownership down as well.  They are currently accepting applications for their 2024 build. Information and the application are available on their website.

Mental Health

While the number of people ranking mental health as one of the most significant challenges in the community fell in 2022, it rebounded back to where it was in 2021 and once again ranked second among the folks who answered our survey. We checked in with Meghan Dougherty, executive director of CB State of Mind (CBSOM). CBSOM is a grassroots community nonprofit working to address mental health challenges for the Gunnison Valley within three priority areas:

  • connecting our community to resources
  • reducing the stigma associated with reaching out for help with efforts to normalize the conversations and highlighting local stories
  • Therapy Scholarship Program creating easy access to mental health support

Since April of 2020, CBSOM has been able to help 360 individuals connect to more than 3,800 individual counseling sessions. Meghan shared, “We are all in this together, and we are honored to be the organization people turn to not only for help but to collaborate on creative solutions.” In addition to CBSOM, the Gunnison Valley Health Behavioral Health Department continues to increase services to support the mental health of our community. The Gunnison County Community Health Coalition is also deeply engaged in work with mental health, behavioral health, and healthcare access.

Early Childhood Education

We were a little surprised to see the dramatic jump in the number of respondents ranking early childhood education as one of the biggest issues facing our community. Although it’s ranked seventh, the percentage of respondents who ranked it as one of our three biggest challenges jumped up 660% over 2021. Any family with young kids knows the challenges involved in accessing affordable care in the Gunnison Valley. We checked in with Lana Athey, the Early Childhood Services Supervisor and lead of the Gunnison-Hinsdale Early Childhood Council for her thoughts on the state of the sector. She wrote back:

The early childhood system continues to face challenges with early childhood workforce recruitment and retention and lack of licensed early childhood care slots, especially for infant and toddler care. The early childhood workforce faces several challenges that impact the quality of care and education provided to young children including low compensation, lack of benefits, a heavy workload and stress, and lack of recognition for the important work that they do on a daily basis. Over the last four years the GHECC has developed programs to strengthen and support the EC workforce including a paid sick leave program, stipend program that allows EC teachers access to an annual stipend based on their EC credential level, scholarship opportunities, and an awareness campaign to highlight the critical role that all early childhood professionals play in our community. The GHECC’s hope is that every early childhood professional in the communities we serve will feel valued and appreciated for the work they do in our community.

The collective challenges we face can be daunting, but the Gunnison Valley community is made up of determined, committed individuals who recognize that our strength comes from our unity.

CFGV Programs Most Important for the Community

In our 2021 Annual Report, we introduced our new vision to the community: CFGV inspires and connects people so everyone can thrive.

We have been adapting our programs over the last few years to bring us closer to achieving our vision for the Gunnison Valley. We asked you which three programs from our list you think are the most important for our community and here is what you told us.

Our competitive Annual Community Grants cycle continues to evolve to better meet the needs of local nonprofits. Last year we awarded record funds and we are gearing up for our third year of two-year general operating fund grants. The two-year grants reduce the administrative burden on local organizations and help them leverage local funding to apply for larger amounts from outside the Gunnison Valley. 2024 marks the third year we’ll offer collaborative grants to encourage innovative ideas to be tackled with motivated thought-partners. And a major value-add with Community Grants – and quite possibly a reason it ranks so highly among our programs – is the availability of CFGV staff as an on-call resource while preparing the grant application and for tailored feedback following review and recommendations for funding.

Fund Management is a unique service we offer that pairs generosity with community needs. As a community foundation, we partner with people who love the Gunnison Valley to establish a variety of types of funds tailored to the donors’ charitable goals and interests. In just the last couple months, we’ve had individuals start funds to help families with pets needing end-of-life care as well as to provide additional resources for programming and activities for our community’s older adults and senior citizens. Establishing a fund is a great way to start seeing the impact of your long-term charitable legacy today.

During 2023, we saw the number of STEP Program applications double. We are grateful to all the wonderful experts and consultants who offer their time and expertise free of charge to support our thriving nonprofit sector here in the Gunnison Valley. Over time, we’ve seen more organizations utilize the program to fine-tune their operations. We’ve also seen beautiful peer relationships develop through the program as nonprofit leaders share their best practices with each other. Embracing a culture of sharing knowledge has made us all stronger and we applaud every organization and individual who has used the STEP program, whether as an applicant or an advisor.  

Thank you!

We are grateful for your time in filling out our annual survey. Together, we can do great things for this community.

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