2020 was a year of extraordinary challenges and resiliency.
Our community experienced unprecedented needs and opportunities, and Rose Community Foundation was able to respond to the moment in manners consistent with our values, vision and long-term strategies.
Together, we continue to mourn the lives lost to COVID-19 and to wrestle with the intertwined health, economic and social impacts of the pandemic. Coupled with persistent and longstanding racial injustices, the effects of COVID-19 highlighted and compounded structural disparities within our country and our community in very public and personal ways.
Amid a truly difficult year, Greater Denver’s nonprofit and philanthropic sectors heeded our region’s collective call for support in critical and inspiring ways. With the vaccine rollout underway in 2021, we are hopeful that we can help our community move beyond triage and rapid response to recover and thrive. As we now turn our focus to stabilization, building back better and our long-term strategic objectives, we embrace how we leaned into our values of equity and justice to respond to 2020’s converging crises.
There are still many areas in which our community is far from recovery. Our regional economy will take time to rebound to pre-pandemic levels, and women – especially women of color – have left the workforce at disproportionately high rates. Our national and local reckoning with racial injustice is far from over, with hate crimes on the rise targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, officer-involved shootings continuing to claim Black lives, and significant work needed to address systemic barriers impacting immigrants, refugees and other communities of color. Our country is polarized, and our communities are traumatized by rhetoric and policies that divide, disenfranchise and discriminate. The national gun violence epidemic continues to impact innocent people and garner headlines in our own backyard and across the country.
Rose Community Foundation is committed to addressing the evolving and immediate needs of the Greater Denver community, as well as supporting organizations and initiatives that help break down inequities and systemic flaws. We will continue to advance our mission of cultivating inclusive, engaged and equitable Greater Denver communities through values-driven philanthropy.
Our values showed up time and time again in 2020. Understanding the urgency of the moment, our board committed the bulk of our grantmaking dollars to a multi-faceted response to COVID-19, with a particular focus on supporting the people and communities most impacted by the pandemic. Our donor-advised fundholders and other donors joined us in this response, collectively granting $11.6 million to help local organizations serving communities of color, the domestically-at-risk, remote learners, economically insecure and low-income individuals, immigrants, people experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness, people with disabilities, public assistance recipients and older adults. Our dollars shored up services for basic needs, mental and behavioral health, back-to-work and job-loss support and virtual programming. We continue to foster our ability to leverage policy and advocacy work in pursuit of our mission, endorsing and financially supporting the passage of several ballot measures that will help our community in the immediate aftermath of COVID-19 and for decades to come.
Amid this work, national tragedies focused long-overdue attention on structural racism within our community. Building on our historic commitments and aligned with our values, Rose Community Foundation and our donors made grants to Black-led, Black-serving grassroots organizations working to address systemic inequities across a range of areas throughout Greater Denver by creating opportunity, bolstering resilience and empowerment, growing awareness and understanding, and advocating for just and inclusive systems and policies. The leaders of these organizations are immersed in the issues they seek to address, are part of the communities they serve and are visionaries who are driven to create change.
Our long-standing commitment to our region’s Jewish community also adapted to the unique needs of 2020. Rose Community Foundation recalibrated its Jewish Life grantmaking strategies to prioritize bolstering nonprofits’ responses to emerging needs, sustaining and nurturing Jewish traditions in a time of physical isolation, mitigating the virus’s short- and mid-term impacts on the Jewish community and supporting long-term organizational recovery and stabilization. For many of our donors, their giving also followed these priorities.
They say hindsight is 20/20, and the wisdom gained from the difficult experiences we collectively faced in 2020 will guide us well into the future. Responding to our community’s needs, aligning our giving with our values, inviting our donors to join us in our strategic philanthropy, using our dollars and our voice to speak up about important issues—these are all approaches we leaned into last year that will be sustained in our ongoing work. We are honored to have you as a partner in these efforts, now and for many years to come.
Lindy Eichenbaum Lent
President and CEO
Steven A. Cohen
Chair, Board of Trustees