INSPIRED IMPACT is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to social entrepreneurs and leaders of mission-driven organizations who are making an impact in their communities and industries.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
Chinook Fund supports grassroots organizations working on issues of social and economic justice. By pooling our collective resources, we seed groups making a positive, systemic impact to improve the quality of life for all Coloradans.
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
To transform our community’s situation for the better. It’s clear that today’s injustices are the result of structures and systems that have been designed by a few to enrich even fewer. We believe that the people who are most affected by injustice are essential to ending it and that real change is created by amplifying the power of community in decision making.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
For three decades, Chinook Fund has been at the forefront of responsive and progressive philanthropy. We have distributed more than $5 million in grants, and provided thousands of hours of intensive training to grassroots groups working on the ground in low-income communities. Our grantee agencies seek to revitalize their neighborhoods, foster education reform, end youth violence, develop affordable housing and increase urban environmental health. Chinook Fund plays a critical role in supporting Colorado’s progressive movement and funding emerging issues. We continue to discover new groups who are working locally on the tough issues of our time.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
Our grantees and volunteers! Watching grantees find innovative solutions to the issues affecting them is continually inspiring. A good example being Denver’s tiny home village, the first housing community built by and for people experiencing homelessness. The project really demonstrates why grassroots, constituent-led organizing is the most effective means to create real social change. Equally as inspiring is the dedication of our volunteers. They put so much of themselves into our programs and through their work, they are elevating community organizing as an essential strategy for sustainable change.
WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
I would say the big dream is to dismantle the systems of oppression that are maintained by intertwining policies and practices, to have inclusiveness in decision-making and for those most affected by an issue to have a seat at the table, to develop community leaders and transform donors into activists, and to continue developing innovative ways to work collectively.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
Community support, funds and volunteers. Chinook Fund has implemented an innovative model for more sustainable grantmaking, but it still needs funds to pay for general operating expenses to implement the important programs it provides.
WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
Chinook Fund is a trailblazer in the realm of philanthropy. In that role, our biggest challenge is making sure our community stays engaged and involved in our innovative grantmaking program. Our current grantmaking model, the Giving Project, is a unique participatory model of funding that provides significant financial resources to organizations working towards long-term progressive social change. Chinook Fund relies heavily on volunteer participation, and our grantees rely heavily on the funds we provide. Social justice movements are in desperate need of consistent, unrestricted funding. We fund some of the most dynamic and effective organizations in Colorado that are working at the local level, without access to major foundation funding or large individual donors. Strong grassroots organizations will be part of any major social justice victory we achieve, and they need to be well funded.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Start where you are, listen attentively, reach who you can, and have the courage to stand up for what you believe is right.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
Consider joining a Giving Project! Chinook Fund’s Giving Project brings together a diverse group of people at all income levels who are passionate about social change and want to strengthen their skills in fundraising, grantmaking, and community building. Participants work together to deepen their understanding of social justice principles in order to support grassroots organizations that build power for social change in Colorado. For more information about the Giving Project visit chinookfund.org/givingproject.
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