In October 2020, the second largest wildfire in Colorado’s recorded history burned more than 193,000 acres, displacing hundreds from their homes and devastating the local community.
In the community’s time of need, the Grand Foundation answered the call. Years of work to build the capacity of the area to address housing issues prepared the organization to take advantage of an opportunity to provide near-term housing opportunities for those displaced by the fire that will transition to long-term workforce housing options in a region experiencing rising housing costs.
The Freeport-McMoRan Foundation, which has for years partnered with the Grand Foundation to address housing insecurity, contributed to the pool of nearly $1 million raised to purchase the Black Bear Lodge for the purpose of converting it to a viable housing option for those impacted by the fire or in need of affordable workforce housing. The 21 units, which rent at a reduced rate, and are managed by the Grand County Housing Authority, add critical inventory to the affordable housing landscape in Grand County.
“We couldn’t do this project without partners like Freeport-McMoRan and Henderson operations,” said Megan Ledin, Executive Director of the Grand Foundation. “We look for this to be a model moving forward.”
The Freeport-McMoRan Foundation’s support of the fire recovery efforts is just one example of how the company partners with community organizations to address such needs as housing, continuing education and emergency services for those who reside near the company’s Henderson site. These efforts are essential in building near- and long-term resilience.
Meanwhile, the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation’s investment in the Clear Creek Schools Foundation will provide financial support for students enrolled in Clear Creek High School to pursue college credits or career certifications through its Exploration Fund.
Freeport’s investment of $20,000 ($10,000 from the Foundation and $10,000 from the company’s United Way campaign) was matched with $20,000 from another donor to establish a $40,000 fund that will help pay for tuition and certifications – whichever path the student decides is right for them. The Exploration Fund, which was shaped with input from Henderson leadership, will begin supporting students in the fall of 2023.
“Educational opportunity is crucial for building a resilient community. And the opportunity needs to be for students pursuing a four-year degree, as well as those who might want to go into a trade,” said Lalitha Christian, Social Performance Manager at Henderson operations. “Like many local employers, we can’t fill all the jobs that we have available now, let alone those we’ll have in future years without a local pipeline of skilled workers. Partnerships like this are vital to make that happen.”
Mitch Houston, Executive Director of the Clear Creek Schools Foundation, said his organization is reviewing the data to determine how many students initially will be served through the Fund. But he believes the funds already committed can last three to four years. Moving forward, Houston is optimistic about the outlook of the Exploration Fund.
All told, the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation awarded nearly $2.9 million to 41 projects in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico through its Community Investment Fund in 2022.
Recipient organizations started receiving their monetary awards during grant presentations this winter.
“The Freeport-McMoRan Foundation aims to provide resources, of which funding is only one part, to support communities and organizations as they focus on actions they can take to build resilience and the range of skills that may be needed to respond to opportunities and challenges,” said Tracy Bame, President, Freeport-McMoRan Foundation.
The Freeport-McMoRan Foundation works to create a funding process that supports applicants and encourages them to think about the impact that will come from an investment in their work. This moves beyond reporting on outputs, but rather thinking through what change can occur from the work that will be done.
“Throughout 2022, we continued conversations with community stakeholders and partner organizations about the path to increasing resilience in their local communities,” Bame said. “While the unknowns of a post-COVID reality persisted as an ongoing threat to resilience, partners also explored other topics that have and will affect their future well-being, such as the energy transition and climate change, mine transitions, economic diversification, and the changing future of work.”
Since 2012, more than $1.6 million has been invested through the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation in Clear Creek and Grand Counties. The funds have been awarded to programs and projects that build community resilience and capacity. In 2022, $316,000 was awarded to the following grant recipients:
Clear Creek County
Clear Creek County Health and Wellness Center – $100,000 (second payment of a $500,000 commitment)
A commitment of $500,000 over five years will support the building and launch of the first collaborative care center in Clear Creek County. The center will allow residents to seek out mental and physical health care in the county, keeping health spending and other associated revenue in the local community.
Clear Creek County
DLD Sub-Area Planning Grant – $60,000
Funding supports a planning process to strategically identify enhanced community, land use and infrastructure proposals to provide new sustainable revenue streams and improved services for all residents.
Clear Creek County School District
Career-Connected Learning Project – $10,000
Funding, when combined with a $10,000 match on Henderson employee donations through Mile High United Way, will total $20,000 in support of this project to increase opportunities for students to engage in career-connected experiential learning. This will expose them to the world of work that is available in their community and help them to understand the pathways necessary to attain that work.
Grand County Rural Health Network
Grand County Multisector Resource Hub – $25,000
Funding will support a collaborative planning process around the development of a multisector resource hub that would strategically provide a one-stop resource of services to marginalized community members of Grand County.
Grand County Search and Rescue
Mission Control Vehicle – $46,000
The vehicle will replace an inoperable multipurpose avalanche response, complex mission and command truck in order to provide enhanced search and rescue capability for Grand County.
Middle Park Medical Foundation
Kremmling Wellness Center Gym – $75,000
Funding supports the development of a modern community recreation space with a goal of improving the overall health of the community by creating more opportunities to engage in recreational activities.
For more information about Freeport-McMoRan community investments and programs, please contact Lalitha Christian at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit FreeportInMyCommunity.com.