ALAMOSA– When Colorado was hit with forced closures due to COVID-19, First Southwest Community Fund (FSWCF) worked quickly to create relief for small businesses.
Receiving feedback that our rural businesses and nonprofits needed immediate cash assistance, FSWCF launched the Emergency Micro-Grant Program. By partnering with nonprofits and local governments in our rural communities we created four separate emergency micro-grant programs to provide relief to small businesses and nonprofits in southwest and southern Colorado. Overall, the programs were able to create the following impact:
Total number of microgrants: 56
Total dollars invested: $84,500
Jobs protected: More than 200
Industries included: arts, auto & transportation, education/childcare, health & wellbeing, food, hospitality, retail, salon and services.
In the San Luis Valley, FSWCF partnered with Kenneth King Foundation to create a micro grant program for small businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19 and received 37 applications from businesses throughout the San Luis Valley, representing all industries and all counties.
Ultimately, the organization was able to award $15,000 to 11 different businesses. These businesses included:
Boogie’s Restaurant: A restaurant in Del Norte.
Creede Repertory Theatre: Located in Creede, this theatre attracts talent from around the country offering top tier shows.
Gosar Natural Foods: A family owned business in Monte Vista dating back to 1971.
Locavores: A farm to table restaurant in Alamosa.
The Village Pub, Pizza & Spirits: A restaurant in Saguache.
Valley Roots Food Hub: An aggregation and distribution service for 65 family farms and value-added agricultural entrepreneurs in the region.
FSWCF also partnered with The Community Foundation of the San Luis Valley to create the SLV Response Fund to help local nonprofits which serve the most vulnerable communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. FSWCF provided $7,500 in matching funds, thanks to a generous donation by Xcel Energy, to contribute to a funding pool of $24,500 offering awards to:
Antonito Together: The organization is expanding the Meals on Wheels program to ensure that vulnerable seniors are able to get the meals and nutrition they need.
Boys & Girls Club of the San Luis Valley: The Boys & Girls Club is serving as a provisionally licensed emergency childcare center for school-aged youth.
Community Resources & Housing Development: CRHDC will provide emergency rental and utility assistance to low income families throughout the valley.
Creede Early Learning Center: CELC is providing remote learning opportunities, as well as putting together resource packets and household items such as food and diapers to keep education and discovery going, and ease some of the stress at home.
La Puente: The organization will serve people who have difficulty cooking for themselves, people who do not have sufficient food at home, and those who are homeless and unsheltered.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors: Neighbors Helping Neighbors will directly pay bills to the company for people in crisis to catch them up from overdue payments when services may be cut off.
Rio Grande Hospital & Clinics: RGHC is a healthcare provider and critical access hospital. They have had unexpected expenses with having to set up a COVID-19 specific area, masks, supplies, and other essentials.
San Luis Valley Animal Welfare Society: The shelter is filled to capacity with rescued homeless dogs because they are being abandoned and many are being surrendered because owners cannot afford to feed them.
San Luis Valley Immigrant Resource Center: The organization has seen an increase in clients needing food, rent, and utility assistance. Most immigrant workers lost their jobs or saw their hours decreased.
San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition: The organization is working with statewide and local partners to create response and relief to essential food value chains from seed, farmer, distribution, retail, prepared food, food banks, and schools.
South Central Colorado Seniors: Through their Nutrition Program, with nine meal sites valley-wide, SCCS continues to deliver meals five-days-per-week. Nutrition staff is making it possible to feed seniors and validate that they are safe.