Rural Philanthropy Days a success


Photo by Lyndsie Ferrell Grant makers met with several organizations from all five counties of the San Luis Valley last week to discuss topics and issues facing rural areas and to discuss ideas on how future funding could benefit the area.

DEL NORTE— Every four years, the Community Resource Center (CRC) has hosted the Rural Philanthropy Days (RPD) in the region and the RPD recently concluded the most recent program in Del Norte. Several entities from around the five counties in the Valley gathered in Del Norte for three days of networking and learning the fundamentals of grant seeking to help their organizations and communities.

RPD is a statewide program hosted by the CRC that helps communities create opportunities for local organizations and nonprofit groups to meet with grant makers and learn how to make a grant proposal a success. There were just over 300 participants that came to the three-day event which also generated close to $80,000 of revenue for the Valley.

For over 28 years, local communities have worked together to coordinate Rural Philanthropy Days in partnership with the Community Resource Center, Anschutz Family Foundation and other statewide grant makers. RPD builds opportunities for important community projects within the San Luis Valley and across the state by strengthening regional relationships, building the skills of the region’s nonprofits, and connecting local organizations with grantmaking organizations.

The conference comes to the San Luis Valley every four years with local organizations from Saguache, Mineral, Rio Grande, Alamosa, Conejos, and Costilla counties all participating in the event.
Meeting the needs of rural Colorado communities is what RPD is all about. This year there were more than 60 grantmaking representatives, as well as a variety of community leaders, distinguished speakers and state and local officials in Del Norte for the San Luis Valley RPD conference. San Luis Valley nonprofit professionals in attendance were able to participate in more than 30 professional development opportunities over the three-day conference.

In addition, the San Luis Valley RPD Conference provided a powerful opportunity for the state’s most influential funders to meet one-on-one with local and regional grant seekers in a series of Funder Roundtable discussions. This exchange helps to break down barriers and ultimately results in stronger partnerships, increased access to resources and the development of long-term relationships.  

From 2009 to 2015, core funders of the statewide RPD program have awarded over 750 grants which totaled upwards of $22 million to rural nonprofits in the San Luis Valley region. It was further estimated that the local Steering Committee and conference attendees spent over $80,000 in the San Luis Valley with catering, venues, design, printing, photography and other vendors.

“It was a great time for everyone who came out to participate. People were able to share their stories and experiences and even the grant makers were able to tour the Valley to hear about some of the specific issues that residents and organizations face every day. We toured the town of Center and Costilla County to meet with students and agricultural workers which afforded us the unique opportunity to see, and actually grasp, what a day in the life of the Valley looks like,” said CRC President and CEO Maria Fabula.

The conference was attended by several local government officials and they were able to also speak about the partnerships that have been formed in recent years to help stimulate the economies and what is being done on economic development. They also talked about the upcoming 2020 census and what steps they are taking to ensure that accurate information is collected. There was participation by all five counties in the Valley and it ended up being a great event.

On the last day of RPD, over 200 people from various organizations gathered at a round table event where they were able to use some of the tactics they had learned over the previous two days to pitch ideas and projects to grant makers from around the state including governmental agencies, such as the USDA, private donors and other organizations.

“This was a unique and special event for the area, and we were really happy to see it work out the way it did. We are looking forward to seeing what happens at the next event in four years,” finished Fabula.