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Supporting Rural Nonprofits in the San Juans

The Western Slope of Colorado is a region rich in non-profits and other charitable organizations that help provide services to its many rural communities. According to Montrose Community Foundation, there are over 250 non-profits located in Montrose County alone, with Ouray and San Miguel counties also hosting large numbers of 501c organizations.

In an effort to support these non-profit and community groups, the Community Resource Center (CRC) is hosting one of their twice-annual conferences, Rural Philanthropy Days, on the Western Slope this Spring. The San Juan Rural Philanthropy Days conference is part of a statewide initiative to offer skill-building, collaboration, and funding opportunities to nonprofits and community organizations.

CRC has been working across the state of Colorado for over 40 years with a mission to build capacity within the nonprofit sector and build a better Colorado with strong and resilient communities. Rural Philanthropy Days (RPD) is a cornerstone of their efforts and has been held for over 30 years.

CRC has three goals for hosting the RPD event. They hope to increase access to resources that support operations and social impact in rural non-profits, get grant-makers engaged with rural Colorado leaders to better understand regional issues, and enable rural communities to have the resources needed to collaborate on a regional scale.

There are eight regional chapters within the Community Resource Center’s scope. The main chapter for the Uncompahgre Valley is the San Juan RPD. The chapter is part of the Rural Action Network (RAN) and covers Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel counties. Returning to the San Juan region after five years, the Rural Philanthropy Days conference is planned to be held June 7-9 in Ridgway. This year, the theme of the San Juan conference is Communities in Transition.

At the conference, attendees will take part in workshops covering all facets of nonprofit work, this includes the opportunity to network and build relationships with potential funders and collaboration partners, as well as explore the beautiful scenery of Ridgway and the surrounding area. There is an emphasis on rural resiliency and investing in small communities as well as the creation of a strong network of funders for programs in need.

The town of Ridgway is looking forward to hosting the event, which was originally slated to take place in 2021 but was pushed back due to the Covid-19 epidemic. Ridgway Mayor John Clark said “The RPD Conference will provide Ridgway an opportunity to showcase our rural community and highlight the diverse nature of the San Juan region. Ridgway is a destination full of rich history, an array of arts and culture, and home to an engaged and friendly community.”

The event is open to local leaders, business owners, philanthropists, and community groups within the San Juan Region. CRC also grants an opportunity for locals to learn more about their regional nonprofits and how to support them. First-time attendees will have a special training at the beginning of the event, with returning attendees encouraged to attend as well. The conference will conclude with a driving tour of the West End.

For more information about the conference as well as registration,

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