LOR Foundation gives presentation at URGED meeting

DEL NORTE — The Upper Rio Grande Economic Development meeting for November was held in the Rio Grande County Commissioner Chambers in Del Norte on Nov. 14. The group welcomed LOR Foundation representative Ivette Atencio as the keynote speaker who gave a brief presentation on what the foundation has done since coming to Monte Vista 18 months ago.

The foundation is fairly new to the area and has successfully helped fund projects throughout the Monte Vista community and will continue to do so for the next three and a half years. According to Atencio, the foundation is a privately funded grant maker that is currently focusing on western mountain rural communities.

“We are focused on Monte Vista at this time, but we also provide funding resources to communities outside of Monte Vista to help fill that gap,” she said.

LOR stands for Livability, Opportunity and Responsibility which are the focus and mission for the foundation.

“LOR is a start-up accelerator for community-driven ideas. Our goal is to be nimble, moving quickly to help solve problems communities have identified as priorities. Sometimes that help is funding, and sometimes it’s simply connecting people and organizations with resources — and to each other,” Atencio said.

Over the course of the year, LOR has been active in the Monte Vista area, several projects have been funded including sponsorships for educational opportunities, teacher wellness rooms, basketball courts for local students at the Byron Syring DELTA Center, a therapy playground designed for children with autism in the community, fixing kennels at the Conour Animal Shelter, just to name a few.

“We focus on enhancing quality of life for the communities we serve, no matter what that looks like. My job is to work with people who have ideas that will benefit the communities and to gain grant approval through the foundation. We fund mostly projects that are $10,000 or less, but we can also go up to $30,000 when the need arises. I have a quarterly budget that I work with, and we fund projects that focus on youth, housing, economy, water issues and more,” explained Atencio.

The foundation is funded through private donors and when an idea is submitted it passes through Atencio to her manager and then to the director of this region who makes the final decision on what kind of funding is allocated for the proposed project. Though Atencio did not have specifics on exactly how the foundation determined which communities can be served by LOR, she did state that it was the Ski Hi Center that brought LOR to Monte Vista, among other factors.

“LOR looks at where the foundation can do the best and be an impact on the community. The foundation is currently serving in New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming and our Wyoming location will be the first to leave a community in the coming year. We strive to make all of the projects we fund sustainable and therefore are looking at what it will be like to remove the foundation from a location and how that will impact a community. It’s a learning process,” she said.

LOR Foundation locations are set up to serve a community for a five-year period and the goal is to do as much work as possible within that timeframe within the guidelines of their specific grant budgets.

“My goal is to do as much as I can in the time we have here in Monte Vista so if a non-profit or organization has an idea for a project that will benefit the community, I encourage you to reach out to us and share your idea. We do what we can to fund projects but if we can’t, we can offer resources that may be able to help,” she said.

For more information or to propose an idea to the LOR Foundation, visit lorfoundation.org.