As Colorado Springs prepares to become the most populous city in the state, a movement is brewing to intentionally shape that growth and ensure the city retains its best social good characteristics.
A new model that unites 10 powerful grantmaking foundations under one roof is underway, to match like-minded minds with the money that can fund innovative projects.
The Philanthropy Collective is owned and operated by a group of six investors as 315 Collective LLC.
The latter is run by the John and Margot Lane Foundation, which funds “high-impact projects,” according to its website, including Children’s Hospital Colorado, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Colorado College’s Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.
315 Collective purchased the property at 315 E. Pikes Peak Ave. for $2.2 million and is spending an undisclosed amount to remodel the art deco-inspired building, which over the years has housed a bus depot, auto repair shop, juice bar and other businesses .
Now, 10 independent foundations are moving their offices from elsewhere in the city to half of the nearly 15,000 square foot building, and a public food hall and bar are being built in the front section.
“Historically, across the country, foundations and nonprofits talk about collaboration,” said Tony Rosendo, CEO of Spur Philanthropy, which advises the Lane Foundation and other funders.
The intention is to focus on large-scale mission-related community development that occurs in tandem with the economic development of the city.
Think affordable housing and equitable education projects that go beyond the box, say the founders.
“315 means something; it has an ethic, a sense of morality and community,” Rosendo said.
The Philanthropy Collective, undertaken by the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, has been planned since 2019 but has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Residents got a taste of what such collaboration can look like during the pandemic, Sabin said, when individuals, businesses and charitable foundations donated $1.9 million to the city’s emergency relief fund. Pikes Peak Community Foundation to benefit non-profit organizations in El Paso and Teller counties.
With a mix of old wood, exposed brick and ductwork, and new glass, metal and artwork, the renovated building at the southeast corner of East Pikes Peak Avenue and Weber Street creates a environment that the founders hope will nurture the creativity needed to delve into the uncharted. charitable enterprises.
“You’ll see a variety of workspaces – individual, conference-style, shared and flexible offices,” Rosendo said.
Hot desks are workstations with electronic plug-ins for people who show up and need a small professional space to get things done.
The building opens to outdoor patios to “capitalize on Colorado” and inspire “casual sharing” throughout, Rosendo said.
Some of the 65 people who have settled there moved in last month.
Ben Ralston, president of the Sachs Foundation, which provides educational opportunities for black residents of Colorado, has an office on the second floor.
“As an organization that focuses on community impact, it just made sense to rub shoulders with other organizations that have community impact,” he said. “I think we can continue our mission by being here.”
Says Claire Swinford, executive director of the Bee Vradenburg Foundation, which invests in the arts: “It’s about the convergence of many minds who are largely focused on the same common goals and who have the chance to bounce off each other. others.”
Each participating foundation has a different scope and retains its own board, mission and established work, Rosendo said.
“Fostering the kinds of ideas, collaborations and support mechanisms that occur when a small group of community-minded investors share space and come together both formally and informally is truly exciting to see” , said Susan Edmondson, President and CEO of the Downtown Partnership. of Colorado Springs.
The vision goes something like this: “People start talking about their families, and the conversation leads to how to make the city accessible to families,” Rosendo said. “It’s work rooted in experience.”
It’s also work that should spur change, said Leslie Sabin, vice president of finance and operations for the Pikes Peak Community Foundation.
Foundations invest money in stocks, bonds and other financial products to build the basis of their wealth. The Internal Revenue Service requires that at least 5% of assets be donated annually.
However, “a lot of these foundations don’t know how the money is being used,” Sabin said. “Usually they are only interested in the return on investment.”
Investors in 315 Collective LLC are looking more for a social return, Sabin said.
The Gazette Charities Foundation, an affiliate of the Anschutz Foundation that supports more than 200 nonprofit organizations in El Paso and Teller counties, is one of the foundations joining the group.
Construction crews are finishing transforming the west side of the building into The Well, which will feature four food vendors, a large centralized bar, indoor and outdoor seating, large opening windows, a fire pit , a meeting space and a room for live music.
Italian, Asian, Mexican and American dishes will be available for purchase from the in-house kitchens, an effort led by local restaurateur Russ Ware.
The venue is set to open in the first quarter of this year, with food and drink available from morning until night.
“It’s an all-weather place that’s truly Colorado,” said Justin Anderson of Simpatico Hospitality, the consultant.
The operation is for-profit, with revenue supporting restaurateurs also being reinvested into the collaboration, Sabin said.
Edmondson of the Downtown Partnership predicts The Well will become “a bustling community center and, truly, a center of gravity.”
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