Stephanie Stein, along with her father Ken Hankin and her sister Jennifer Hankin, opened a donor-advised fund (DAF) at Rose Community Foundation in late 2019. Just a few months later, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, prompting Stephanie, Ken and Jennifer to accelerate their giving through the fund.
“As the pandemic spread across the country, we saw massive needs emerging,” says Stephanie. “We felt galvanized to use our DAF to support organizations that were responding to the crisis.”
In March, the trio rushed gifts to Meals on Wheels America and Feeding America, a pair of national organizations working to provide meals to the food insecure. “We read a lot of news reports early on about food banks not having enough resources at a time when needs were increasing,” Stephanie recalls.
Then, as the pandemic’s impacts reached Colorado, the family began searching for opportunities to fund solutions to emerging inequities at the local level. When Stephanie saw Rose Community Foundation’s invitation for fundholders to align their dollars with the Foundation’s second-phase COVID-19 grantmaking, she was eager to participate.
“We were looking for ways to help the local community, with a specific focus on addressing COVID-19’s inequitable impacts,” explains Stephanie. “This co-funding opportunity is exactly why we decided to partner with Rose. The Foundation already has the community partnerships and is attuned to community needs, which allowed our family to target effective organizations whose work reflects our values.”
Fundholders who chose to participate in the aligned-funding opportunity were given a curated portfolio of grant application summaries, culled from the Foundation’s COVID-19 impact-mitigation grantmaking application pool, based on their priorities and interests. This is the first time that the Foundation has invited fundholders to join in reviewing grant applications and aligning their grantmaking with the Foundation’s.
Stephanie and her family evaluated applications from roughly 30 nonprofits working to mitigate growing disparities in K-12 education and food and housing access. Colfax Community Network (CCN), an Aurora-based program of Mile High Behavioral Healthcare that connects low-income families to resources for housing, education and career development, immediately stood out to Stephanie.
CCN recently launched a new program that offers educational support to children and families as they adjust to social-distance learning. The Education Support Program provides low-income and homeless children with a socially-distanced space for learning, internet access for schoolwork, in-person academic support, and free grab-and-go lunches. The family’s grant will fully fund the purchase of a van to provide safe transportation of students while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
“After reviewing each of the applications, it became clear that Colfax Community Network fit all of our criteria for giving,” she says. “I sent a summary to my dad and sister explaining why I recommended supporting CCN. They not only agreed, but suggested we increase the grant amount.”
Stephanie says her family’s focus on funding equity-oriented organizations, especially those addressing inequities in the K-12 system, is inspired by her mother, Cindy Hankin, a lifelong educator who passed away in 2016. Upon learning that low-income children in the Greater Denver region experience some of the lowest levels of upward mobility in the country, Cindy, who lived in Maryland with Ken and Jennifer, encouraged the family to direct their dollars in support of low-income communities and communities of color in Denver, where Stephanie has lived since 2008.
“My mom identified Denver as a place where we as a collective family could make the biggest difference,” shares Stephanie. “And right now, as the community is struggling more than ever, our family feels an obligation to help where we can.”
In this time when we cannot physically reach out to others in our community, we CAN come together through our giving. Interested in supporting Rose Community Foundation’s ongoing, equity-focused response to the medical, economic and social impacts of COVID-19 in seven-county Metro Denver? Consider giving to our R.E.S.P.O.N.D. Fund today!