A Message from Our Executive Director

I have spent the last month of 2020 in reflection and find myself grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to serve the Denver community and for the incredible work that SVP Denver has accomplished even in the midst of so much upheaval related to COVID, racial unrest and political changes. In a word, I have been inspired.  I’ve been able to see our neighbors step up to support our community.  I watched as our SVP Denver Partners slid into the driver’s seat and launched a campaign that exceeded expectations. And, I’ve been in awe as I witnessed them never losing sight of their commitment to the Investees they had pledged to support.  

I felt a healthy amount of excitement combined with trepidation about starting a new position with a nonprofit during these times. However, having a strong and committed board of directors and a group of active partners with big hearts who truly want to have an impact in our community, made the transition smooth for both Tes and I. For that, I am truly grateful for each of you.

Together, our 2020 impact included:

  • Launching the Left Behind Workers fund – at $10M and growing! Starting with a group of SVP Partner donations, this effort grew through hundreds of hours of expert Partner volunteer work. The results have been spectacular. By the end of 2020, nearly 10,000 Coloradans who have been left behind by our traditional support systems during the pandemic received $1,000 cash grants or rental assistance. The Fund continues to expand its impact, with contributions from 300 individual and foundation donors, and a public-private partnership with city, county, and state governments.
  • Investing in the Worklife Partnership Loan fund. Along with initial funding from the Kenneth King Foundation and The Denver Foundation, SVP Partners contributed to a pool of $150,000 to support the launch of this small dollar loan fund.
  • Serving 20 nonprofit Investees by delivering fourteen 1:1 capacity building projects as well as launching and delivering three brand-new cohort workshops. These workshops included multiple Partners who supported nonprofits in creating  or refining e their Theory of Change or creating or improving their pitch for funding. We’ve received incredible feedback from Partners and Investees with one of our Investees sharing: “I’m very grateful that I took the time to commit to doing something outside of my comfort zone. I see us using our Theory of Change and impressing funders with our ever-deepening knowledge and experience on program content and impact across CO. It was great to reflect on the impact that our organization has and can have.
  • Launching a revised Fellowship model with the Boettcher Foundation. This model will create a pathway for Boettcher Fellows to become engaged philanthropists and give back to their community.
  • Coming together to laugh and learn. We hosted eight Partner happy hours (three virtual amid COVID) and hosted four educational events to benefit Partners and the broader nonprofit community.  We also launched a monthly Partner Lunch and Learn series for Partners to come together and discuss articles, podcasts or TED talks related to philanthropy and key issues impacting the nonprofit space.

The reality is that we’re just getting started. We have transitioned from under The Denver Foundation to being fiscally sponsored by CNDC and are excited to leverage their resources to grow. The cohort model has been so successful that we are working with a Measurement and Evaluation (M&E) expert (and Boettcher alum) to create and launch our first M&E cohort in Q1, 2021. 

We are also excited to announce that one of our local strategic funders has provided us with a grant to create our first DEI-specific Fellowship Program. This program will help us grow our Partner membership base to increase our breadth of thought and lived-experience and better represent the ethnic and socio-economic diversity of the communities we serve. 

This diversification will increase the impact we have on the nonprofit community in Denver, support the skill set development and community engagement of individuals and expand the benefits of SVP Denver membership to more members of our community. We are also looking to engage more deeply with our community. Colleen has been participating in Leadership Denver and Tes in Impact Denver, which have proven to be opportunities that will provide us with a wider sphere of influence and understanding of the needs in the Denver Metro community.

We have so much more on the horizon for our Social Impact Investor Group and Partner consultants to increase the impact SVP Denver will have on our community. I’m excited to grow with you.

Lastly, I am incredibly excited to announce that longtime Partner Sara Bayless is our new BOD Chair! Sara has been an SVP Denver Partner for five years and a key member of the BOD since 2019. Sara has contributed tremendously to several projects for SVP Denver in both her volunteer and professional capacity as an evaluation expert. She looks forward to working with the partnership to continue to strengthen our community of engaged philanthropy! 

Merrill “Skipp” Stilwell will remain on the BOD as “past-chair” and was an impactful leader who led the other members of the BOD to carry SVP Denver to where we are today.  Those 2020 accomplishments wouldn’t have been possible without the engaged and strategic BOD. 

We are seeking new BOD members, please review the requirements and let me know if you or someone you know is interested!

I am thankful to have had this opportunity to serve our Partners, Investees and our Community and cannot wait for all we will accomplish together in 2021 and beyond. 

Feeling Grateful,

Colleen Kazemi, Executive Director