What we’re proud of in 2023

January 8, 2024

Every year we are moved by the generosity of our donors and fundholders, and the exceptional service we see from our nonprofit partners. The gifts that come into the organization, the grants that go out into the community, the investments we work on together, are supporting our neighbors and improving our communities. 2023 was an incredible year. Here are our highlights: 

 The Denver Foundation and our partners… 

Mile High Workshop 17
Image by Armando Geneyro

1 …celebrated a recording-breaking year of grantmaking

2023 was our biggest grantmaking year on record – nearly $140M. Among the many nonprofit partners we supported, the Community Grants Program and our fundholders supported Mile High WorkShop, a nonprofit that creates employment opportunities and provides job training for members of our community seeking to rebuild from addictions, homelessness, and incarceration. We also supported the Black Parents United Foundation (BPUF), a non-profit organization that provides equity, diversity, and inclusion programs that teach confidence building, community development, and community engagement to families. 


2 … showed our leadership in climate work


There are many ways we support environmental work, beyond our grantmaking. President and CEO Javier Alberto Soto and the leaders of three other large community foundations launched the Community Foundation Climate Collaborative, a group that will help direct the unprecedented infusion of federal, state, and private funding to climate projects across the country. We continued supporting Acclimate Colorado, an effort from the Colorado Health Institute to “drive policy changes that will help Colorado communities become more resilient in the face of climate change.”

Our focus on climate issues is also evident in our investment approach. The foundation’s three investment pools are available to all fundholders. We’ve made strategic investments in our Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) Pool to encourage the transition to a carbon-free future. One such investment was the Generation International Equity Fund, which invests in high-quality sustainable businesses and net-zero projects. 


Mayoral Forum Javier Soto Kelly Brough Mike Johnston Michelle Griego Shaun Boyd Paul Teske (1)
Image by Amanda Tipton Photography

3 …worked with Denver’s mayor

We partnered with CBS Colorado and the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs for a mayoral forum, with now-Mayor Mike Johnston and our new trustee, Kelly Brough. Once Mayor Mike Johnston was elected, we were involved in his transition committees to help listen to community and make recommendations and hosted a lunch with the mayor’s staff and other foundation leaders to brainstorm ideas to address the housing crisis. At the end of the year, we built on that partnership with the mayor to host the House1000 Fund, a fund to support temporary housing resources and wraparound services for those experiencing unsheltered homelessness in our city. 


Credit: Blake Jackson
Image by Blake Jackson

4 …finished biking to every Denver neighborhood

We started the bike tour in 2019 to get to know the community and to listen so we can work better together. These meetings sparked innovative ideas. This fall, we reached a major milestone biking through all 78 Denver neighborhoods! At each stop, we met with community leaders, small business owners, nonprofit leaders library staff, and government leaders with RTD.  Read more about the completed bike tour here. 



Latin American Education Foundation (30)
Image by Armando Geneyro

5 …lifted community voice, and connected donors and nonprofits to discuss important issues

We believe in connecting the community. We connect donors to each other and to nonprofits to hear about how philanthropy can address the challenges facing our communities. This year we held two such events, one on economic opportunity and one on education. You can see the incredible stories of our economic opportunity grantees, and education grantees on these YouTube playlists. 



Close,up,of,senior,woman,opening,uk,energy,bill,concerned6 …responded to the community’s emergency needs

Our Critical Needs Fund is our fastest and most flexible way to respond to crises in our community and around the globe. We activated this emergency fund for rapid-response grantmaking in 2023 to help our neighbors with rising energy bills, those facing eviction, and migrants arriving in Denver and needing support. We raised $255,000 for the fund in 2023 and continue to raise money for this important fund.  




7 …deepened our investment in the community through impact investments

We added to our place-based investments which create impact in our community while achieving a financial return. These investments, by both our Impact Investment Pool and our donors, now exceed $5M. One notable investment was the Colorado Housing Accelerator Initiative (CHAI), an impact-first social enterprise that pools mission-driven capital and deploys it to middle-income housing projects in Colorado.

CHAI has already funded eight projects that have created or preserved 436 affordable housing units in Colorado. Based on the success of CHAI and other investments, the foundation’s board approved a new $5M allocation to the Impact Investment Pool over three years, doubling the portfolio and the opportunity to create meaningful impact in the places we all care about. 


Reisher Scholars Program 28 …expanded Reisher Scholars Program to community college students

In 2023 we grew the impact of the Reisher Scholarship by adding Fort Lewis College to the program, and by creating the Reisher Bridge Scholarship. A partnership that began more than 20 years ago, The Denver Foundation and the Reisher family have collaborated to develop one of the largest scholarship programs in Colorado. In the 2023-24 school year, students in the Colorado Community College System who intend to transfer to a Reisher Partner Institution were awarded the Reisher Bridge Scholarship to help them successfully transition to a 4-year Colorado college or university. 


Armando Geneyro 1
Photo by Armando Geneyro

9 …shared our first-ever learning report

As a learning organization, we use data and evidence to inform our decision-making. This year we published our first-ever learning report. It is an opportunity for us to share the data we’ve analyzed over the past year. This helps us understand our progress toward our vision and strategic goals, and identify future opportunities. We want to be transparent in highlighting successes while acknowledging areas of opportunity as we reflect on the feedback we’ve received. Read the report here 



Casa Grande Banner10 …started planning for the 100th anniversary which will take place in 2025

The Denver Foundation was established by leaders of Denver’s banking and legal communities who saw a need to set up a pooled endowment fund to help meet the Denver area’s most pressing needs. We want to keep meeting those needs for another 100 years. In 2023, we started the very initial stages of planning for our 100th anniversary. We can’t wait for you to celebrate with us in 2025!


2023 was a big year and we are proud of all we have accomplished. We’ve worked more efficiently, thanks to a software conversion and a new electronic payment system that gets the money out the door to our grantees faster. You can read more about what our staff was proud of in 2023 on our blog.   

Thank you for your support of The Denver Foundation. We’re looking forward to partnering with you in 2024.