Women Thriving. Colorado Rising.

Herstory: 1987 to today

We Are More Powerful Together Than Alone

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 ‘70s followed by a handful of others from New York to Dallas. Women’s funds provided a space for donors, volunteers, and leaders to work together to support gender equity and were rooted in the belief that we can create more changes together than alone.

Around kitchen tables and on living room couches, these women shared food and wisdom and knew that Colorado, too, needed a place to advance economic opportunities and philanthropy by and for women. Their work was rooted in addressing a serious and significant issue: the disproportionate number 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 economic security of women 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 combines resources from many community 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.

Milestones

1987

WFCO launched with the support of $2 million dollars in gifts

1989

The Chambers Family Fund creates first donor-advised fund

1990

WFCO held its first Annual Luncheon, which has become the state’s largest annual gathering benefitting Colorado women and girls

1994

Funded The Economic Status of Women and Girls in Colorado

1995

Hosted The Summit on Women's Economic Security with then-First Lady Hillary Clinton

1999

Group-advised fund Beyond Our Borders launches

2000

Funded the second Status of Women and Girls in Colorado report

2001

Capital campaign raises $2.5 million to support the Merle Chambers Center for the Advancement of Women, home to WFCO and the Colorado Women's College

2003

Launched Power of Extended Philanthropy (PEP) for donors who make 3-year commitments to support WFCO

2007

Published the Cliff Effect in Colorado and launched the Power the Change Endowment Campaign

2009

Vail Luncheon features equal pay advocate Lily Ledbetter

2013

Supported Losing Ground: The Cliff Effect movie and hosted viewings around Colorado

2016

Released Gender Equity in Colorado's STEM Industries: The Case for Focused Workforce Investment and The Impact of a $12 Minimum Wage on Colorado Women

2017

Released five-year strategic plan and hosted a 30-year fundraising celebration featuring former First Lady Michelle Obama

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