July 17, 2024

The Health

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Colorado Springs Empty Stocking Fund to recognize innovation | News

To spotlight innovation in health and human services work of nonprofits in the Pikes Peak region, the Empty Stocking Fund, a project of The Gazette Charities Foundation and El Pomar Foundation, is rolling out a new program.

Beginning this year and continuing every year, one different nonprofit will be selected to join the 20 other local health and human services organizations that benefit from donations collected during the annual holiday appeal.

“The goal of this is to increase the scope and impact of the Empty Stocking Fund campaign in a strategic way,” said Deb Mahan, executive director of The Gazette Charities Foundation.

“It’s a way to highlight new nonprofits in the community and the work they’re doing or the existing nonprofits that are doing new, innovative programming,” she said.

Applications for agencies to be considered as a one-time beneficiary of the inaugural Innovation Award of the Empty Stocking Fund program must be sent to Mahan at [email protected] by July 10.

Applications will be accepted from health and human services nonprofits that support individuals and families in El Paso and/or Teller counties.

Qualified agencies must have 501c(3) designation and either have been formed within the past two years or be an existing organization that has launched, or is planning to start, new and innovative programming.

Interested organizations are asked to submit a letter of intent, audited financial reports for the past two years, a letter of nonprofit determination, a summary of the organization’s impact or an annual report and a list of agency board members.

Emailed application materials are due by July 10 to [email protected].

One new agency will be selected each year to receive the Innovation Award and will be entitled to proceeds from that year’s disbursement.

Existing base agencies that receive fund proceeds vary in mission, from providing services for veterans, seniors and preschoolers to offering food, housing, adoption services, programs for homeless teens and adults, to assistance for domestic violence cases and abused children, indigent medical treatment, hospice care and programs for people with disabilities. 

The Empty Stocking Fund began in 1984 to provide toys, clothing and other supplies to needy families during the holiday season, raising $40,000 in cash and goods that first year. A decade later, the campaign shifted to a community fundraiser for Pikes Peak region nonprofits.

Every dollar donated can increase by up to a half through matching funds provided by three foundations: Bruni, Chapman and El Pomar.

All administrative costs are covered by The Gazette Charities Foundation, The Anschutz Foundation, The Gazette, El Pomar Foundation, Pikes Peak Community Foundation, JH Edmondson Foundation, the Colorado Springs campus of the University of Colorado and Add Staff Inc.

That means 100% of every dollar donated is given directly to participating agencies.

Last year’s Empty Stocking Fund drive, which marked the campaign’s 40th anniversary, raised $1.6 million.

Donations have increased steadily each of the past seven years, with the past five years hitting record high, Mahan said.

“It’s on a growth curve,” she said.

She attributes that to community goodwill and recognition that contributions immediately assist front-line agencies that help local people in need.

“We just celebrated the 40th anniversary, and people know they can give one time and have a broad impact in the community and help health and human services agencies,” Mahan said.

With the launch of the Innovation Award, she said, “we are eager to partner with an agency providing critical services to our community and responding to some of our most pressing social issues.”

This year’s Empty Stocking Fund campaign begins on Thanksgiving, Nov. 28, and runs through Jan. 25, 2025.