FIRC wins outstanding nonprofit award |

FIRC wins outstanding nonprofit award

Summit Daily/Kristin SkvorcFrom left, Paty Cruz from the Family & Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC) teaches a class on how to discipline children to parents Ismael Nanez, Sandra Chalarea, Sandra Diaz, Rosa Lopez, Maria Ramirez and Susie De La Cruz. The Gates Family Foundation recognized FIRC as an outstanding nonprofit award and granted it $75,000 throughout the next three years.

DILLON – The Denver-based Gates Family Foundation honored the Family & Intercultural Resource Center with its outstanding nonprofit award.The Family & Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC) will receive a total of $75,000 throughout the next three years to use for program expansion and capital development. Christina Carlson, FIRC’s executive director, says some of the money eventually will go toward creating a “real” family center where people can access programs; currently, FIRC rents office space in Dillon.

The majority of money the Gates Family Foundation grants to organizations usually is earmarked for capital development or building trails, venues and so on. But a few years ago, the foundation started a pilot program to provide operating grants, which give nonprofits money without specifying how they must use it.Tom Kaesemeyer, the foundation’s executive director, has watched FIRC grow. He approached the nonprofit to ask for its financial records, the number of clients it impacts annually, its partnerships with other organizations and how effectively it has carried out its mission statement.And he was impressed.

“All the criteria I mentioned comes out very high,” Kaesemeyer said. “This organization has improved a lot of things. They’ve been in our sights for awhile. They have increased not only income but also voluntary support. They have a strong board, and the counseling is geared toward getting people on their feet and managing their own affairs.”The nonprofit, which provides information, education and referrals to local families, immigrants and refugees, has operated within its budget – something Kaesemeyer finds important. It serves 8,000 to 10,000 people a year and effectively partners with other human service organizations.”I don’t think Christina (the executive director) ever stops looking for partners,” he said. “And (FIRC) has been very imaginative when it comes to raising money.”

The foundation gives three operating grants to nonprofits every year. Though it has awarded capital grants to Summit County entities, this is the first operating grant it has presented in Summit County. It doesn’t always give the maximum of $75,000, but Kaesemeyer thought it was justified in the case of FIRC.”We’re very aware of changing demographics in Summit County. FIRC is helping immigrants and other populations to ensure (residents’) understanding of what newcomers go through and ways to enhance their self-sufficiency,” he said. Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at

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