El Pomar Foundation is one of the largest and oldest private foundations in Colorado. It was founded in 1937 by prominent Colorado Springs entrepreneurs and philanthropists Julie and Spencer Penrose with the mission to enhance, encourage and promote the current and future wellbeing of the people of Colorado. The Penroses endowed the Foundation with a $21 million gift, which has grown to over $600 million in assets. El Pomar has disbursed $526 million in grants since 1937.
In the early years, less than a dozen grants were made annually. Today, El Pomar makes more than 1,000 grants annually, averaging a combined total of $22 million in support of Colorado nonprofits involved in health, human services, education, arts, humanities, civic and community initiatives. For over 80 years, El Pomar has supported Colorado Springs organizations like Penrose Hospital, Early Connections Learning Centers and Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.
To increase impact and establish deep-rooted connections beyond Colorado Springs, El Pomar created Regional Partnerships in 2003 to help communities across the state identify and address local needs. Through 11 regional councils El Pomar convenes community leaders representing all 64 Colorado counties who advise El Pomar’s Trustees on the greatest needs in their communities. Since 2003, the councils have invested over $21 million in their regional communities.
In times of crises, El Pomar creates funds to provide support where it is urgently needed. During the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession, El Pomar created the Colorado Assistance Fund, which allocated $1 million annually for a period of five years to human service organizations throughout Colorado. In 2020, El Pomar quickly responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by utilizing the Colorado Assistance Fund for the sixth time with $1 million in immediate aid granted to nonprofit organizations supporting Colorado communities impacted by the virus.
In addition to grant making, El Pomar delivers programs that encourage leadership and promote community development. One such program, the Emerging Leaders Development program, equips ethnic minorities already engaged in their communities with the training to broaden their impact on the community at-large. El Pomar also owns and operates Penrose Heritage Museum, Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun and Penrose House. Since 1992, Penrose House has served as a free gathering space for nonprofit entities across the state.
For more than 80 years, El Pomar has invested in the people of Colorado Springs and the communities of Colorado as did its founders Julie and Spencer Penrose.
Generously Submitted by Sarah Woods, El Pomar Curator of Historic Properties & Archives