Summit Cares Emergency Fund raises $570,000 for area nonprofits | SummitDaily.com
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Summit Cares Emergency Fund raises $570,000 for area nonprofits

Krista Brudick, executive director for TreeTop Child Advocacy Center, helps pack school lunches at The Church at Agape Outpost in Breckenridge for Smart Bellies on Thursday, April 23. Smart Bellies is a program that serves school lunches for children in need, but since schools have been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, food is distributed at Dillon Valley Elementary and Summit High School or dropped off at homes.
Liz Copan / ecopan@summitdaily.com

FRISCO — Since its inception last month, The Summit Foundation’s Summit Cares Emergency Fund has raised $570,000 for nonprofits affected by the coronavirus pandemic. As of Monday, April 27, the foundation has distributed $112,500 of that to applicants. 

The fund is specifically for nonprofits that deal with direct needs, such as food and shelter, and was formed with $100,000 in seed money from the estate of longtime community volunteer Harriett Bobo. It started when The Summit Foundation ran an analysis to determine how much its 100 local nonprofit partners — including ones in Fairplay, Leadville and Kremmling — need to make up for lost revenue.

According to The Summit Foundation Executive Director Jeanne Bistranin, the analysis — which is based on anecdotes and estimates from early March — found a total shortfall that ranged from $7 million to over $20 million.

“Many of them have had to cancel their fundraising events and that has impacted every single nonprofit,” Bistranin said. “The analysis was so eye-opening. This was not business as usual, and it can’t be business as usual. Philanthropy won’t be able to make up for that.”

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The foundation has given money to all nonprofits that have asked at the amount requested within roughly a week of applying. Naturally, larger nonprofits have received more funding with smaller nonprofits receiving less. For example, Bistranin said the Family & Intercultural Resource Center was awarded about $25,000 while the South Park Food Bank got around $5,000. Nonprofits also can request more money as necessary.

Bistranin said nonprofits that are doing well are ones that have reserves set aside for times like these, while smaller nonprofits, child care centers and other entities that don’t have the luxury to save will struggle.

“Unless they make the necessary adjustments, we might see some that don’t come out so well on the other end,” she said.

One of the nonprofits the relief fund has helped is Smart Bellies. Formed last year by Sarah Schmidt and Margaret Sheehe, the organization provides food for students over the weekend when they might not have a steady source of meals outside of school. Because school has been canceled, they’re seeing an increase in children getting breakfast, lunch and snacks. Smart Bellies used to feed around 300 students weekly but recently fed as many as 550.

How To Help

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a second Giving Tuesday called Giving Tuesday Now will be held May 5 in addition to the regular Giving Tuesday on Dec. 1.

The program encourages people to support their community by donating to local nonprofits. Visit GivingTuesday.org for more information.

To help with the demand, Smart Bellies is using the $10,000 it received from The Summit Foundation to buy fresh produce, which it can’t always afford to do. The fruits, vegetables and other items are then packed up and taken to a distribution site or delivered straight to the door of a family in need — a new service started because of the pandemic. The majority of food goes to a school for pickup, but Smart Bellies has now done about 150 deliveries a week to people who either can’t leave their homes or don’t have the means to.

“That’s where we’re trying to do a little extra.” Sheehe said. “Those are the families that we think are going to have more trouble getting to the grocery store.”

Smart Bellies is fortunate to be volunteer-based and not have to worry about staffing issues. However, that means Schmidt and Sheehe rely on direct donations and haven’t been able to apply for a federal small business loan. The community has supported them by donating more food than ever before, with roughly 50% of their food being donated.

“In the past, we buy food because we try to make sure it’s easy to eat, something they like and make sure it’s not sugary cereals,” Sheehe said “… We’re a little particular, but even with being particular, people are have just been able to donate all kinds of stuff.”

The nonprofit also doesn’t have a permanent space, so The Church at Agape Outpost has given Smart Bellies access to the building for volunteers to pack bags.

The two hope the generosity will continue past the pandemic.

“Our families need more help now, but it’s not like the coronavirus will go away, and you’ll make back all the money you didn’t make and that kind of thing,” Sheehe said. “We’re thinking they’re going to need help going forward into the future. … It’s going being to a long haul.”

The Keystone Science School is pictured Wednesday, April 29. The school has had to cancel multiple programs due to the coronavirus pandemic and is relying on reserves.
Liz Copan / ecopan@summitdaily.com

The Keystone Science School also has been affected by COVID-19 and school closures.

Though the nonprofit hasn’t applied for money from The Summit Foundation’s fund, which is currently geared toward supplying emergency needs, it has received assistance from the foundation by allowing the school to use previously restricted donations for its Resiliency and Restart Fund. Combined with the Paycheck Protection Program, Keystone Science School has replaced roughly 25% of its original budget that it lost due to the pandemic canceling programming.

“That is just a tremendous help for us,” Executive Direct Ellen Reid said. “… It’s cash sitting that we couldn’t touch, and now they’re allowing us to redirect that to use it any way we need to support our longer-term viability.”

The primary cancellation was of the Keystone Science School’s CATCH program, which stands for Coordinated Approach to Child Health. The school is working on rescheduling the after-school activities along with its educational overnight programs that serve other Colorado schools. Additionally, it has made its cancellation policies and scholarships more flexible for families who might no longer be able to afford the camp.

The school also has postponed its main CATCH fundraiser, Sipping for Science scheduled for June, cut expenses with a hiring freeze and shifted job duties around.

“Take for example our chef,” Reid said. “He would be cooking for 70 kids right now, and there aren’t 70 kids to cook for. He lives on campus, so he’s doing other things like helping with projects on campus. … To have a group of people surrounding you with supportive guidance, I’m grateful. I feel very lucky. This is not something any executive director or nonprofit leader in our lifetime has dealt with. This is all unprecedented.”

Other staff members are working from home while some were phased out naturally, such as instructors without kids to teach, shrinking the total number of employees to 20. The school is currently using reserves that were meant to last 60 days at full capacity while building up its resiliency fund.

As for summer and beyond, Reid is “cautiously optimistic” and said they have multiple scenarios in mind for how things might operate. According to her, the science-based outdoor programs are more important now than before. 

“But that doesn’t change the environment of not wanting people to get sick,” Reid said. “Whatever we decide to do, we will keep health and safety as our No. 1 priority. We have to.”


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