Our History

Opening Doors to a Women's Fund: The History of The Women's Foundation of Colorado

The Women’s Foundation of Colorado (WFCO) started small, as good things do, with the spark of an idea. In 1985, a small group of Colorado women came together to discuss the many women’s funds cropping up around the country – catalyzed by the launch of the Ms. Foundation in the mid 1970s followed by a handful of others from New York to Dallas. Women’s funds provide a space for donors, volunteers, and leaders to work together to support gender equity, so that all women and girls have the resources they need to reach their full potential.

Around kitchen tables and on comfortable living room couches, these women shared food and wisdom and decided that Colorado, too, needed a place to advance the leadership and philanthropy of women. Their work was rooted in the need to address a serious and significant issue: the disproportionate numbers of women living in poverty.

With seed funding from the Hunt Alternatives Fund, WFCO was formed. From the beginning, our leaders came together from different backgrounds in service of a shared vision: to support the promise and potential of women and girls across our state by opening doors to opportunity.

Hundreds of donors fueled WFCO’s formal launch in January 1987. Over the two years leading to the launch, individuals made generous gifts and pledges totaling $2 million, including support from local funders such as the Piton Foundation, Mile High United Way, and the Colorado Trust, and corporations such as the United Bank of Denver.

These donations seeded a true community foundation, an organization that combined resources from many sources in support of a shared focus on supporting women and girls in Colorado. Our leaders created permanent funds and a dedicated endowment, using some dollars to address pressing present-day challenges and setting aside others for future needs that would emerge.

We Know the Power of Diverse Voices

At an early retreat, members of one of WFCO’s first boards created a bouquet together to demonstrate the power and potential when diverse voices come together. Each leader selected a single flower of a different type. They placed these blooms in a common vase until the flowers - lily, peony, rose, and sunflower– created a beauty together unlike anything they could have made separately.

The women who built WFCO did not always agree, but they stuck together, through tough conversations. They hailed from different towns, had diverse political affiliations, racial and ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and income levels, and brought experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. They listened wholeheartedly to one another and shared their unique perspectives.

Deep connections to community emerged and long-lasting relationships were built. Their dedication threw open the doors to Colorado’s only community foundation dedicated to women and girls, leading to investments that have propelled more Colorado women to prosperity.

1901 East Asbury Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
(303) 285-2960
wfco@wfco.org

OUR MISSION

Catalyzing community to advance and accelerate economic opportunities for Colorado women and their families.

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