Key Points

This article explores how The Colorado Trust confronted the fact that the lives of many Coloradans remained fundamentally unchanged after years of nonprofit-led grantmaking and, in response, developed a community-led grantmaking process aimed at achieving a new vision of health equity.

These shifts led to significant changes both within The Trust and in long-standing relationships with many nonprofits. The Trust dissolved its program department and replaced the program officer position with a team of “community partners” tasked with building relationships with residents in far-flung regions of the state. Resident groups were empowered to identify the needs in their own communities, and will receive funding to disperse as they saw fit to implement their plans to address those needs. These residents are also discussing what success will look like for them and how they will know when they achieve it — in evaluation, too, shifting power from the funder to the community.

Putting Colorado residents in the driver’s seat for part of its grantmaking altered the fulcrum of power at The Trust. This article also discusses how The Trust came to examine its own power and privilege and to explore diversity, equity, and inclusion — what it means to The Trust and how it can best be prepared for deeper community conversations.

Open Access