Chinook Fund's mission is to support grassroots organizations working on issues of social and economic justice; by pooling our collective resources, we seed groups making a positive, systemic impact to improve the quality of life for all Coloradans.
In 1987, a group of young, progressive philanthropists came together to create a foundation to support grassroots organizations working for peace, human rights, and economic justice. Inspired by the founding of the Funding Exchange in New York, they launched a community-led grantmaking committee, tasked with all funding decisions, to ensure Chinook Fund would be accountable to the communities it served.
Chinook Fund continues to be a vital engine of grassroots change in Colorado. Through the Giving Project model, community members and donors collaborate to fuel community organizations fighting for social, racial, economic, and environmental justice across the state.
A public foundation, Chinook Fund has distributed over $3.1 million to more than 350 grassroots organizations and community groups organizing for social change. We award small grants to new and emerging groups, providing critical support from the beginning. We are often the first foundation grant that our grantees have applied for or received.
The Giving Project
The Giving Project is an innovative new model for funding social change, building community, and leadership development. It brings together a multiracial, cross-class group of people who are passionate about social change and interested in building their skills in fundraising, grantmaking, and community building. Over the course of a 6-month program, participants work together to raise and grant money to organizations building power to effect social change in Colorado.
Giving Grants - Resourcing Movements
Chinook Fund supports organizations working to challenge the root causes of oppression - organizations that more mainstream funders may find too risky, radical, or new to give initial funding. Many of the anchor social change organizations in Colorado today received their first funding from Chinook Fund. Our funding criteria requires that groups are constituent-led, community-wide, with the work reflecting all members of the constituency, especially those who experience multiple forms of oppression, and work towards lasting impact by effecting change not just for one individual, but for the community as a whole, and for future generations.
At Chinook Fund, we do more than just give grants: we help to resource statewide movements for social change by providing workshops, training, and convening opportunities to help our grantees build capacity, share strategies, build alliances, and refine organizing and advocacy strategies. We organize programs that help provide a platform for our grantees to educate the broader public about key issues and influence public debate.
"Chinook is truly transparent and consistent in its approach to giving. We can trust the Fund and the people who lead it."
"Through the Giving Project, I learned about the importance of putting my money where my mouth is and why aggressively funding social justice locally is so critically important. Income inequality has grown devastatingly worse in our state, and marginalized communities experiencing multiple forms of oppression are disproportionately affected by this injustice. Chinook Fund's grantees work tirelessly to address the needs of their communities and they deserve the attention and support of folks like me, who benefit from multiple forms of privilege."
"I have had my eyes opened to various issues in my locality that I was not aware about before, and have seen how new grassroots and established organizations have joined forces to address these problems at the systemic and political levels. It has definitely been one of those beautiful experiences where I have received more than I ever anticipated, where one truly feels a part of something BIG. Most importantly, it has filled me with a new optimism about the future of our community."
"Chinook is a catalyst for developing tight-knit relationships within Denver's activist community. The support received through those collaborations is very critical."
"I think we communicate more openly & honestly with Chinook because we know they are always on our team. They 'get' what we are doing and why we do it. It's a more open environment to ask for support."
"We view Chinook as more than a funder but as an ally organization in the work we and other community based organizations focusing on social justice issues are involved with."
"Chinook is SUCH a contrast with other funders - and this difference has helped underscore the importance of sticking to our social justice values and continuing to fight for them. Support from Chinook has made it easier to approach other funders with critiques and for us not to feel like we have to compromise our values to get funded."
"Being a Chinook grantee has helped provide us with a framework for social change. We look at your definition of social change, look at how our organization operates, and see how we are measuring up - what are our strengths & where can we improve to embody social change."