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CFF awards grants for community wellness

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By Deborah Swearingen

Over the past two years, the Community First Foundation awarded $1.75 million in grants to various Jefferson County organizations working to improve community wellness.

According to its website, the Arvada-based nonprofit works to improve the quality of life and create positive change in Jefferson County by helping donors and nonprofits join forces.

“Investing in the health of Jefferson County is really important,” said Beth McConkey, director of communications with Community First.

Noah Atencio, vice president of community impact with the Community First Foundation, agreed, noting the community health grants are meant to “truly move the needle for Jefferson County residents.”

“The Jeffco grants allow us to address community health holistically,” he said in a press release.

As part of its community health initiative, the foundation examines five specific areas:

• Economic stability

• Education

• Social and community context

• Health and health care

• Neighborhood and built environment.

These categories are listed in order of the amount of money and number of grants each received, with nonprofits working with economic stability receiving 23 grants and nearly $426,000 and those working with neighborhood and built environment receiving just over $167,000 and 15 grants.

Among those receiving grant funds are Evergreen Christian Outreach, the Seniors’ Resource Center, Mountain Resource Center, Jeffco Public Schools, Jefferson Center for Mental Health and more.

In choosing grantees, the foundation examined nonprofits based on ratings in areas such as the organization’s track record, its commitment to using evidence-informed practices, and its clear and articulate outlining of goals.

These grants were for 2017 and 2018, so the future of this particular initiative remains unclear. However, McConkey said the Community First Foundation plans to reassess to ensure it is making the most impact.

“Right now, it is still too early to truly understand the impact of our combined funding for both years, so it is hard to say what our approach will be in 2019,” McConkey said. “We will definitely continue to invest in community health of Jefferson County using the conditions of community health framework, but we may allocate funding differently or leverage community partners to create more impact.”