From Our President and CEO: Reflections on Intercultural Champions

Today, Rose Community Foundation was honored by the Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning at their 4th annual Spring Intercultural Champion Awards. We were delighted to receive this recognition alongside our fellow honorees – and were thrilled to have this opportunity to celebrate the incredible work that Spring Institute does in our community. Being an intercultural champion is something that we at the Foundation do not take lightly, as we continue to strive to create positive and systemic change in the Greater Denver community.

While reflecting on what it means to be an intercultural champion today, it would be impossible to forget that 17 years ago this very morning – the people of our country, across all backgrounds, ethnicities, religions and cultures, were united in tragedy, unspeakable loss, grief, fear and empathy. The years since 9/11 pass, but the images and emotions do not. Spending the morning with an Institute for Intercultural Learning, with people committed to building societal bridges and creating welcoming communities, felt like a healing place to be on an anniversary such as this.

Justice, nondiscrimination and philanthropy are Rose Community Foundation’s founding values. The Foundation was created with the proceeds from the 1995 sale of the previously-nonprofit Rose Medical Center, a beloved hospital that was created by the Denver Jewish community in the face of post-World War II discrimination to ensure that Jewish doctors, and doctors of all backgrounds, had a place that would employ them, and that the entire community had a hospital where they would be welcome and receive excellence in care. While the hospital and the Foundation are completely separate today, that shared history has infused the Foundation’s work over the past 23 years, as we have worked to improve quality-of-life in Greater Denver through strategic investments and thought leadership in our five current program areas of Aging, Child and Family Development, Education, Health and Jewish Life.

Last year, Rose Community Foundation recognized that many immigrants and refugees who had been living, working and going to school in Denver for years felt less safe in their own neighborhoods and worried about their families. We listened to our nonprofit partners on the front lines of these changes. Children and families across our program areas were being impacted by shifting federal immigration policies and the escalation of divisive and discriminatory rhetoric.

Given our history, we knew we could not stand idly by. We looked to our founding values of justice and non-discrimination, to our longstanding relationships in the community, and to our strengths as a convener, facilitator, connector and funder. In response, Rose Community Foundation created a Community Action Fund to support nonprofit organizations serving immigrants, refugees and communities vulnerable to discrimination and hate crimes – be they Jewish, Muslim, LGBTQ, immigrant or refugee. Our community is fortunate to have numerous nonprofit organizations on the frontlines of these critical issues, and we are grateful to be a partner in that work, including our fellow Intercultural Champion honoree – Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN).

As the work continues on the ground in our community, so does the work to address critical issues at the Foundation. Coming up on October 23rd, Rose Community Foundation will be hosting a free forum about the upcoming 2020 Census. Among many other issues the Census is facing, the understandable participation concerns of our immigrant and refugee populations represent a real challenge to Colorado achieving an accurate count. And we know that an undercount will result in Colorado losing tens of millions of dollars in federal funding each year – vital dollars that support safety net services for our most vulnerable populations. We invite all of you to join us to learn more about the Census and the role you and your organizations can play in promoting a fair and accurate count.

While today is the 17th anniversary of 9/11, it is also the second day of Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year. The customary blowing of the Shofar (ram’s horn) ushers in the period of contemplation known as the High Holidays, rousing us from our daily routines and renewing our clarity, purpose, community ties and connection to service. This symbolism seems especially important today, as we support organizations like the Spring Institute that heed the community’s call every day and inspire us all to action.


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