News Article

Featured in this Newsletter

  • $710K Awarded to Public Policy Advocacy Organizations
  • Introducing Jeff Bontrager, Vice President of Initiatives and Partnerships
  • Three New Members Join Caring for Colorado’s Board of Directors
  • Celebrating Departing Board Members
  • 25 Years of Caring
  • We’re Hiring a Controller!

$710K Awarded to Public Policy Advocacy Organizations

Caring for Colorado recently awarded $710,000 in grants to 13 organizations for public policy advocacy at local and state levels to support efforts that improve health, well-being, and opportunity for children, youth, and families in Colorado.
Our grantee partners are working to improve access to high-quality health care and strengthen or expand public programs to help families prosper. This includes advocating for enrollment and improvements to OmniSalud, Medicaid, and Colorado’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, as well as education for and supporting the implementation of the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program, which went live this month. Read more about the grantees and their work.

Introducing Jeff Bontrager as our VP of Initiatives and Partnerships

We are excited to introduce Jeff Bontrager, Caring for Colorado’s inaugural Vice President of Initiatives and Partnerships. Jeff will develop, implement, and evaluate our multi-year, partnership-based initiatives which are designed to test new approaches to improve health outcomes, seed innovation, strengthen the adoption of best practices, and develop sustainable solutions for some of the most pressing health challenges of today. As part of our leadership team, Jeff will enhance the development of funder partnerships and work closely with Melanie Bravo, Vice President of Philanthropy, to support organization-wide learning to strengthen the foundation’s ability to promote system and policy changes to improve the health and well-being of all Coloradans.

Jeff previously served as Director of Research and Evaluation at the Colorado Health Institute where he led CHI’s research on health coverage, the health care safety net, and health equity. Jeff also contributed to state and national research efforts at the University of Colorado’s Division of Health Care Policy and Research, prior to joining CHI. He holds a Master’s of Science in Public Health from the University of Colorado and is a graduate of the Regional Institute for Health and Environmental Leadership. Jeff serves as Vice Chair of Project Angel Heart’s board of directors. Read more about Jeff on our website.

“I have long admired the work of Caring for Colorado. I was drawn to the Foundation’s vision of creating equitable opportunity for Colorado’s children,” said Jeff. “I’ve had the honor of dedicating my career to understanding and addressing systems that perpetuate health inequities. Innovations that address these inequities — often incubated and nurtured with the support of philanthropy — must be evaluated and scaled to create lasting and upstream change. As someone born here, who plans to live the rest of my life in this incredible state, I can’t think of an organization more fitting for me to apply my talents and energy than Caring for Colorado.”

Please join us in welcoming Jeff to our team!

Three New Members Join Caring for Colorado’s Board of Directors

A warm welcome to our newest board members, Kathleen Downs Wasserman, Nim Patel, and Brian Turner.

Kathleen Downs Wasserman is a long-time resident of Steamboat Springs, with interests in reproductive equity and access to health care in rural communities. Her support of women’s reproductive rights is reflected in her work as a co-founder of Choose When, a program in northwest Colorado that raised money to help uninsured and underinsured women access long-acting reversible contraception. In 2023 Choose When was transferred to Caring for Colorado for statewide scaling. Kathleen is an active community volunteer, most recently serving as a trustee on the UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center Board of Directors. Kathleen is a lawyer by training and her career included roles as an associate and partner Piper & Maryland (now known as DLA Piper) and Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Maryland. 

Nim Patel lives in the Denver Metro area and brings a passion for social enterprise, impact investing, technology solutions in health and human services, and the needs of young people in Colorado, especially as it relates to their social and emotional well-being. As Chief Strategy Officer of Colorado Enterprise Fund, Nim has over 20 years of experience in investing, finance, management, and bringing innovation to market in both non-profit and for-profit entities. 

Brian Turner works to provide integrated mental health, substance use, and primary care across nine rural locations in Colorado’s upper Arkansas Valley, which includes the communities of Canon City, Buena Vista, and Salida. As the President and Chief Executive Officer for Solvista Health, a nonprofit community behavioral health center, Brian is dedicated to improving access to mental health care and has special interests in youth mental health, community health, and building purpose-drive nonprofit organizations. In past roles, he served as Deputy Director for the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, President for the Colorado Public Health Association, Director of Mental Health First Aid Colorado, and Development Director for an international non-profit working in education.

Celebrating Our Departing Board Member’s Contributions

Special thanks to departing board members Carl Clark, Paul Major, and An Nguyen. They were instrumental in leading Caring for Colorado through significant changes and challenges during their tenure including the development of the Colorado Centennial Fund, a 501c3 supporting organization to Caring for Colorado; the addition of a place-based funding strategy for Pueblo; a shift of funding priorities to focus on equity in health and mental health for children, youth, and their families; a CEO leadership change; and their support of increasing foundation giving during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With their encouragement, Caring for Colorado also developed several initiatives during their tenure including Youth Connections, ReproCollab, and Together We Protect – a COVID-19 vaccine equity fund. These efforts will continue to shape the direction of the foundation well into the future. We are grateful for their vision and leadership in making Colorado the best state in the nation for children and youth.

25 Years of Caring

We’re turning 25! Follow us throughout the year as we celebrate our achievements in improving health and well-being across Colorado. As part of our anniversary, we will be announcing some special gifts throughout the year in recognition of the hard work we’ve all done together to make Colorado a place where every child experiences love, stability, support, opportunity, and health!