In 1989, only three percent of grants from Colorado’s private funding community were awarded outside of the Front Range. In response, the Anschutz Family Foundation initiated the Colorado Rural Philanthropy Days (RPD) program in partnership with CRC as a way to encourage Front Range foundations to travel to and become better acquainted with different rural regions in the state.
In 1991, some of the nonprofits decided they would hold a “Philanthropy Day” in Grand Junction. They invited funders from the Front Range, including Sue Anschutz-Rodgers, because the majority of the funders are on the Front Range. On Sue’s drive back to Denver, she began thinking that rural Colorado was getting left out of the mix. Her vision was that funders need to go to the nonprofits out in the state. Sue Anschutz-Rodgers asked CRC’s executive director, Steve Graham, to join with the Anschutz Family Foundation in creating a statewide event known as Rural Philanthropy Days. Sue’s vision was to create an opportunity to build relationships between grantmakers who are concentrated along the Front Range and rural nonprofit organizations.
Sue, with her strong rural roots and interest in rural philanthropy, hosted a number of meetings and sent countless letters to Colorado grantmakers, both public and private, in an attempt to secure their support and participation.
RPD events were held on the Western Slope and in the San Luis Valley and southwest region of the state, with participation from 4-5 Front Range foundations.
A formal partnership was forged between the Anschutz Family Foundation and the CRC, expanding the RPD program within four rural regions, covering all corners of the state.
Four rural regions were split into seven smaller regions, providing for two annual RPDs held in different regions of the state on a rotating cycle.
An eighth region was established, allowing each region to host an RPD conference every four years on a rotating cycle.