Enhance, Encourage, Promote
In reflecting on 2019 and my first nine months as CEO, I am grateful to work alongside El Pomar’s dedicated Trustees, staff and Fellows in our commitment to honor the legacy of Spencer and Julie Penrose and the mission they set forth in 1937. Amid transition, I was struck by the strength of alignment between the Foundation’s grant making and programmatic activities with the original charge of the Penroses: to enhance, encourage and promote the current and future well-being of the people of Colorado. In particular, below are a few examples of how our founders’ charge was realized in 2019:
In 2019, El Pomar committed $1.25 million to the University of Colorado Colorado Springs toward an educational initiative and start-up ecosystem in cybersecurity workforce development, services and training. In 2016, the Colorado legislature designated UCCS a lead institution in cybersecurity workforce development and education. Employment in the cybersecurity industry in Colorado Springs is rapidly increasing with a projected forecast of 7,000 jobs by 2025. This initiative, in partnership with the National Cybersecurity Center, anticipates equipping hundreds of graduates from UCCS over the next five years with skills to enter the local cybersecurity workforce. El Pomar Foundation is honored to play a role in enhancing the Pikes Peak region through supporting the potential of this burgeoning ecosystem.
Julie Penrose was a patroness of the arts as demonstrated by her co-founding Broadmoor Art Academy, service on the Board of Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and regular attendance at the Colorado Springs Symphony. Julie also served on the Board of Central City Opera and donated significantly to the restoration of the opera house in Central City. Her commitment and leadership earned her the designation by opera company leadership of “First lady of the Opera west of the Mississippi River.” In 2019, 63 years after Julie’s death, El Pomar continued our relationship with Central City Opera through two grants totaling more than $50,000. We are grateful to have the opportunity to celebrate Julie’s love for the arts and her efforts to encourage culture and fine art in Colorado’s communities.
In 2019, El Pomar’s Awards for Excellence program celebrated 30 years of recognizing individuals and nonprofit organizations which are extraordinary in service to the state of Colorado. In the program’s tenure, more than 530 nonprofit organizations have been recognized with more than $6.4 million in grants. This year, along with several other noteworthy organizations and individuals, the Foundation recognized Silverton School District for providing excellent educational programming, a safe school environment and unique learning culture for students of the Silverton area. Through grant making and programs like Awards for Excellence, El Pomar Foundation is proud to promote the work of such wonderful nonprofit organizations across the state every year.
These three examples represent a few of the many ways El Pomar connects its daily work with its mission to enhance, encourage and promote the state of Colorado, its people and its communities. With a new year in front of us, we are humbled to work with exceptional leaders and organizations around the state and look forward to opportunities to continue honoring the Penrose legacy and mission.
President and CEO, El Pomar Foundation