The Climax Area Community Investment Fund awarded a total of $591,600 to 16 nonprofit organizations from Lake, Chaffee, Eagle and Summit counties for 2013.
The investment fund belongs to the Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Foundation, which runs the Climax molybdenum mine. Established in 2011, the fund focuses on programs and projects related to sustainable community efforts.
The fund is one of several that have been established in communities near Freeport-McMoRan operations in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. Each fund is administered by a committee of community representatives and two company representatives. Grants are distributed annually to schools, 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations and various government institutions that fit the criteria of benefiting education, economic development, environmental stewardship, health and wellness, citizen involvement or transportation.
“Freeport-McMoRan is committed to working with communities to identify effective partnerships that will bring lasting benefits to the people in Lake, Summit, Chaffee and Eagle counties,” Tracy Bame, president of the Freeport-McMoRan foundation stated in a news release. “Through the Climax Area Community Investment Fund, our goal is to continue to empower the community to take the lead in identifying and creating the kinds of programs and projects that will help generate sustainable benefits and shape the kind of community they want. We extend our gratitude to the many exemplary leaders and organizations with whom we are fortunate to work in the programs.”
The largest grant, by far, awarded for the 2013 cycle was a donation of $100,000 to the Summit County Library Foundation. The money will be used to renovate the old Colorado Mountain College building in Breckenridge as part of its transform into a library and community center.
“It’s a great contribution that comes at a really good time in the capital campaign,” said Larissa O’Neil, executive director of the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.
The heritage alliance is working alongside the town of Breckenridge and Summit County government to restore the building.
Built in 1909, the building was one of the first brick structures in Breckenridge, serving originally as a school for kindergarten through 12th grade and giving Summit County residents their diploma-granting high school.
Through the years, the building went through numerous incarnations, including a driver’s license bureau, a fire department and a town hall. CMC bought the building in 1977, holding it until 2010 when it moved to its current campus north of town.
After several discussions about what to do with the building, the Breckenridge Town Council decided to partner with the Summit County government in a project to renovate the building and use it for the south branch library.
“It’s more than a library,” O’Neil said of the current plans. “The library certainly anchors it. It’s truly going to be a community center and a great gathering place for residents and visitors.”
The renovation is no small project. It will essentially rip out the guts of the building and redesign it for the new purpose. The outer, historical aspect will be maintained, with restoration work to touch it up. In addition to the library, plans include community rooms that can be used for meetings, presentations and events; offices on the upper floor; and a remodeled relocation for the Speakeasy Movie Theatre.
“It’s going to be a real community center,” said Brian Edney, chairman of the Summit County Library Foundation. “I think it’s going to be very attractive to the local public as well as visitors.”
The cost of the project is slated at $7.4 million, with $2 million of that to be raised from businesses, organizations and individuals in the community. The $100,000 from the Climax Area Community Investment Fund has brought the fundraising to about 25 percent of the final goal, according to Edney.
“It’s the largest donation we’ve received to date,” he said. “It’s obviously going to help us with our fundraising. It’s a good marker that people are interested.”
Both Edney and O’Neil believe that the communal aspect of the project was what earned it the grant.
“It certainly speaks to just how valuable this project is and just that it’s really exciting,” O’Neil said.
Elsewhere in Summit County
Four other Summit County organizations benefited from grants from the fund. Frisco Elementary received $25,000 to support its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program, and the High Country Conservation Center received $34,400 to support the Summit Cultivating Students of Agriculture program. Summit County Open Space and Trails will use its $30,000 to support the Fremont Pass recpath NEPA evaluation in order to move forward with plans to extend the Summit County recpath system.
The fund awarded a $50,000 grant to CASA of the Continental Divide, a nonprofit advocating for abused and neglected children in the juvenile court system. This is the second year the fund has awarded this amount to the organization.
According to CASA executive director Kathy Reed, the grant money will go toward salaries of advocate managers and for an upcoming public relations campaign designed to recruit more volunteers.
“This grant, we anticipate, will help us serve about 20 additional children,” she said. “We are truly grateful for the Climax molybdenum mine and Freeport-McMoRan for their generous donation.”