Sign-up to receive latest news from El Pomar

Voices of the Fellowship: The Season of the Fellowship

May 22nd, 2015

Matt Weigel

Legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work; a company work; a society work; a civilization work.” While Lombardi was probably trying to motivate one of his NFL Championship-winning, Packers squads, he could just as well have been talking to a group of El Pomar Fellows about what would be expected of them over the course of their tenure at the Foundation. Each Fellow is expected to develop not only as an individual, but also the team as a whole. Committing oneself to a team is paramount to an individual’s learning and growth, and to the development of a cohort. In essence, “individual commitment to a group effort” divides the work while multiplying the success: allowing the team, as well as the individual, to reach their goals. The Fellowship, like a football season, can be broken into a number of different phases: training camp, preseason, the season itself, and the postseason. Each phase provides a foundation to build on as Fellows progress through their two-year experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Voices of the Fellowship: Rural Philanthropy Days 2015

May 11th, 2015

Allie Romo

Since the early 1990’s, the Colorado Resource Center has selected a community in rural Colorado to host Rural Philanthropy Days events every four years.  In partnership with the Community Resource Center and the Anschutz Family Foundation, Rural Philanthropy Days provides a unique opportunity for statewide funders, government agencies, and local grant seekers to strengthen partnerships and discover ways to work together on rural projects that improve community life.

This year, Creede will host the 2015 San Luis Valley Rural Philanthropy Days from September 23-25, 2015. The conference will also provide training and capacity-building opportunities focused on improving the success of regional nonprofits.

Geographically, Creede is on the western edge of the San Luis Valley, the largest, highest inter-mountain valley in the world.  Creede has a rich history ranging from Ute Indian hunting to a present day vibrant arts community. Long before the silver boom in the later 19th century, the Ute Tribe of Colorado used the surrounding land of the present-day town of Creede as a hunting ground. From the late 1890’s until 1985, silver mining was the main economic driver for Creede.  In 2010, Creede was voted Colorado’s Top Arts Town.  The town is also known for its many annual festivals, such as Taste of Creede, Creede Cabin Fever Daze, and the Creede Cruisin’ the Canyon Car Show, to name a few.  As a town with rich rural history, Creede is ready and excited to host Rural Philanthropy Days this September. Read the rest of this entry »

Voices of the Fellowship: Leading as a listener

May 1st, 2015

Hannah Staller

Have you ever noticed there are some people in your life who always seem to say the same thing? No matter what, either the tone or content of what they say never seems to change. Maybe every time they call or you run into them, you think “Oh boy, here we go again.” I will admit I thought I had these people in my own life.

Earlier this month I took a six day transformational leadership course in which I explored how I can make leadership my natural self-expression. This may sound odd, but the course is designed to help people respond to any situation in their lives as natural leaders. Although we discussed numerous topics related to leadership during those six days, the importance of authentic listening struck me. I always thought of myself as a good listener. When someone spoke to me I would dutifully put down any distractions, make eye contact, and respond appropriately. It turns out listening authentically is more than pausing Candy Crush, staring intently, and nodding my head attentively. Through the transformational leadership course I realized I had been tricking myself, simply going through the motions of what we think makes up good listening. Read the rest of this entry »

Never a Dry Day

April 27th, 2015

Colin  McCarey

On a snowy day, sitting by the intricate fireplace in the Penrose House library, surrounded by carved oak and glass cases of antique books, you could forget the world.  Snug, warm, and architecturally transcendent, the library is designed for comfort and entertainment.  You might notice, though, if perusing the cases in the alcove of the north wall, a series of semicircular grooves marring the wood floor, a subtle indication the room conceals more than books.

Spencer and Julie Penrose acquired their El Pomar estate in 1916, with the United States on the eve of joining the First World War, and Prohibition already in the air.  The Great War saw the first tremor of Prohibition in 1917 with a wartime restriction on alcohol production to preserve grain stores.  By the time the 18th amendment put Prohibition into national effect in 1919, crowning a century-old series of national temperance movements, 33 out of 48 American states had already enacted their own alcohol bans. Read the rest of this entry »

Stories of Impact: House of Neighborly Service

April 17th, 2015

The days are cold, and the nights are colder. Imagine you have nowhere to seek shelter from the ever-changing Colorado weather. What do you do to stay warm in Loveland, Colorado? For the homeless of Loveland, the answer is to spend the night at the House of Neighborly Service Shelter.  Perhaps you have a roof over your head but your utilities are in jeopardy of being shut-off.  House of Neighborly service is the place you will turn.

The House of Neighborly Service (HNS) seeks to diminish the effects of poverty among vulnerable individuals and help them become self-sufficient. While emergency shelter is critical, HNS offers its clients many different services, including a food and clothing bank, prescriptions/special medical aid, Step-Up Housing, and transportation and utility assistance. It also helps clients take steps towards a better future through individual case management, financial management classes, and healthy living classes. HNS clients are usually sent by referral, and 27% of all clients are seniors and single mothers. In 2014, the organization provided 38,200 services to individuals in need and distributed over 5,000 food baskets equaling more than 207,000 pounds of food.  While meeting fundamental needs, HNS also provides clients with the tools to get back on their feet and break the cycle of poverty.  House of Neighborly Service is in the process of creating a multi-tenant non-profit center to house many of the vital services that they refer to everyday.  To date 13 agencies are sharing programs and cost at the HNS Life Center in central Larimer County. Read the rest of this entry »

Voices of the Fellowship: Ultimate Leadership

April 10th, 2015

Eric Hopfenbeck

When people hear Ultimate Frisbee, or the colloquialism “Ultimate”, the first image that comes to many minds is: running around in a park with no shoes, throwing a Frisbee with friends (and likely a dog), enjoying a carefree Saturday afternoon.

When I think of Ultimate, I think of building community and leadership.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sharpen Your Axe

March 31st, 2015

Nathan Mackenzie

There were once two great lumberjacks, both with towering frames and strength that knew no end. They were considered the two best lumberjacks on earth, capable of chopping down trees around the clock. One day, they decided to compete to see who could chop more lumber in 24 hours.

The first lumberjack hacked away and, amazingly, did not break for a single second. He was so strong and determined that his swings never lost speed or accuracy. For the entire 24 hour competition he persevered, never losing strength or slowing down.

The second lumberjack was equally strong. He began right away as well, chopping down tree after tree. However, after two hours, the lumberjack set his axe by his side and sat down. The growing crowd watching the competition was perplexed and, observing the first lumberjack’s ferocious pace, could see the second lumberjack falling behind.

After 20 minutes, the second lumberjack resumed cutting. But after another two hours he again paused. Every two hours he would repeat this strange ritual. The crowd, in awe of the first lumberjack’s stamina and determination, began ignoring the second lumberjack, sure he had lost the competition with his lackadaisical approach. 

At the 24-hour mark the crowd erupted in cheer for the first lumberjack. Only then did he set down his axe and break to take his first sip of water. The crowd praised his superhuman tenacity and power.

But when the logs for each lumberjack were counted, it was the second lumberjack who was declared the clear winner. A gasp escaped from the crowd. Someone yelled out, “How did you do it?!” The second lumberjack smiled and explained, “Yes, every two hours I stopped to rest, but I also took that time to sharpen my axe.”

How often do you step back and sharpen your axe?

Many people reading this probably feel like the first lumberjack. You are passionate about specific causes and possess powerful skills to make a real difference. Never pausing for a break may feel like a reality, but also a point of pride.

If anyone feels this way, it is the leaders of nonprofits: asked to do so much with so little, working tirelessly without breaks feels like a necessity. Their tenacity is one of the reasons the nonprofit sector in the Pikes Peak Region is so strong.

The Regional Nonprofit Executive Leadership Program (NELP) provides a space for nonprofit leaders to step away and sharpen their axes. For two-and-a-half days at El Pomar Foundation’s Penrose House, leaders are led through valuable reflection, self and peer assessment, and instruction from leadership development experts. Participants leave with a sharper axe, able to resume their work with the same tenacity, but as more effective and efficient leaders.

Regional NELP rotates to a new region in Colorado annually. This year, nonprofits in El Paso and Teller Counties with budgets under $750,000 are eligible to apply. The program will next be offered in the Pikes Peak Region in 2025. Participation levels are capped to ensure high quality interaction with peers and in-depth attention with the program instructors. The course is $400, a fraction of the normal cost of the course. 

To apply for Regional NELP and sharpen your axe, click here.

Learn more about the program on Regional NELP’s website or email Nathan Mackenzie at

We love this insightful parable, which we’ve heard numerous times from several sources. Dr. Stephen Covey’s “Sharpen Your Saw” comes to mind, along with several other excellent blog posts and speakers.


Bringing in the New Year in Africa

March 12th, 2015

Ashley Cornelius

Africa never seemed possible—a distant hope lingering around my desire to travel, but always too expensive, too far away. As an African-American woman, I always hoped to visit a continent with rich history and ties to my ancestry. Little did I know I would bring in the 2015 New Year on a plane heading to Uganda.

Last year, I had the privilege of speaking to the Adelina Gomez Scholars, a college preview and support program of the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs (UCCS) for juniors in the Denver Public School system. While sharing my experience as a UCCS student, I mentioned my biggest regret was never studying abroad. After the program, their guide, UCCS Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity Kee Warner, said “I’m taking a class to Africa. You should come with me.” I jokingly agreed and asked him to send me the information.

After that day, I couldn’t get Africa out of my head. When Kee sent me rough draft pamphlets for the pending program, I was hooked and applied. When I was accepted, I became determined to make the trip happen one way or another. I applied for a UCCS scholarship and received help to pay for trip costs. Money was no longer a hurdle. El Pomar soon after approved my administrative leave. On December 31, 2014, I left for Uganda and Rwanda on a 3-week life-changing journey.

Read the rest of this entry »

From the 400 Freestyle to the Fellowship

March 9th, 2015

By Suzanne Scott

I was born with a benign tumor in my spinal cord, which caused enough nerve damage and weakness in my legs to make me eligible for the Paralympic sport system. In swimming, athletes are divided among ten classifications based on the severity of their physical disability. The classifications are decided by physical “bench” tests, a swimming test, and competition evaluation. I competed in the S10 class, considered the most able bodied. In Paralympic sanctioned races, I exclusively competed against other S10s, which proved to be a relatively equal playing field.  Read the rest of this entry »

Greeley Dream Team: A wrap-around approach to student success

March 3rd, 2015

By Samantha Barlow

The high school graduation rate for Greeley-Evans School District 6 hovers around 80 percent, one of the lowest rates in the North Region. While various nonprofit organizations in the 3 county region of Boulder, Larimer and Weld address academic success and high school completion, The Greeley Dream Team takes a slightly different approach.

Beginning in 1988, the Dream Team Scholars initially worked to promote a culture of success, support, and care. Once participants completed their high school education, they were eligible to receive up to $2,000 for use in a post-secondary training or educational program. Read the rest of this entry »