Donor Profile: Rob & Ginny Bayless

Laura Bond

In the Bayless family, generosity stretches across generations.

Rob and Ginny Bayless have kept very busy for the past three decades or so, raising children, establishing successful careers, and serving the community as volunteers and donors. When one of them gets involved with a nonprofit organization -- such as Girls, Inc., where Rob served as board chair for two years, or The Denver Foundation, where Ginny concluded a term as Chair of the Board of Trustees in December -- they bring the benefit of two sets of expertise: "We tag team," says Ginny. "You get us both."

A commitment to community is a core value of the Bayless family, something both Rob and Ginny learned from their parents. As she grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, Ginny's parents were involved in philanthropy and community work there. Rob's were very active in their adopted city of Farmington, New Mexico. 

"It was role modeling for both of us, and something we embraced," Rob says. "In turn, we have tried to model it for our children." 

As donor-advised fundholders with The Denver Foundation, the Bayless family supports organizations across the metro area, with an emphasis on sustainable job creation and programs that empower girls and women. In recent years, they've made grants to several social ventures including Prodigy Coffeehouse and Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute, reflecting their shared business interests and willingness to take risks on new and innovative initiatives. Often, they'll learn about an exciting organization or funding opportunity through their children, all now grown and involved with nonprofits and philanthropy in different ways. Son Rob and his wife, Sara, are members of Social Venture Partners Denver. Daughter Paige has been involved with organizations in the many cities around the country where she's lived, while daughter Liza works for a nonprofit in Seattle that teaches computer coding to people who are incarcerated. 

"Our children are very active in the community," says Ginny. "It's good to see that, as they go off in their own directions, they feel the need to be good citizens."

"It's just part of our life," she adds. "Our children saw us commit time. We engage them, brought them along. We all understand that we've been very fortunate in our lives. Helping others to have access to opportunities was important to us as a family."

Rob's parents, Robert (Bob) and Bernice (Bernie), also believe that the best way to help people was to provide them with opportunities. in 2001, they established they Bayless Family Fund at The Denver Foundation. Over the past 15 years, the fund has invested more than $1.5 million in nonprofit organizations across the United States, with gifts to universities and youth programs that connect children and young adults to education and bright futures. 

Many of those gifts have gone back to Farmington, where Bob and Bernie built a successful energy business and raised their four children. Rob's siblings Cindy Robers, Tucker Bayless, and Betsy McCord still live in Farmington, a small city near the Four Corners that is rich in natural beauty and history as well as oil and gas. 

"It was a wonderful city to grow up in, and to raise children in," says Cindy Robers, whose husband, Tommy, has been the mayor of Farmington since 2010. "This is where it all started. Our parents moved here from Oklahoma in a big boom and appreciated what Farmington had to offer. It has meant a lot to our growing family."

Through their giving and civic engagement, the Bayless family has touched nearly every part of life in Farmington. They volunteer and serve on the boards of organizations that help children and promote education. They've financially boosted large institutions -- the Farmington Public Library and a cancer treatment center at the San Juan Regional Center, among others --, as well as programs with very specific missions, such as Project Look It Up, which every year gifts each fourth-grade students in the town with a dictionary. The program was a favorite of Bernie's. 

 

"Our parents grew up during the Depression, in very modest environments," says Rob. "They felt fortunate to have developed resources that they could share. They felt that they had been given tools to go forward, and they wanted to help provide those kinds of tools to others."

"We all understand we have been very fortunate in our lives. Helping others to have opportunities is important to us as a family."

With his siblings, Rob is a steward of The Bayless Family Fund, which allows him to hone his practice of intergenerational philanthropy. The Fund is structured to allow for a diversity of interests and worldviews while preserving Bob and Bernie's intent of providing meaningful opportunities to those who might not otherwise have access to them. 

"None of us view our role in the world as 'philanthropists,'" says Rob. "It's more just something we do, a big part of us. It enriches our lives through the people we meet. We all learn a lot from the experience and from one another."

"It's part of the fabric of our family," Ginny adds. "And our children show us that giving back will continue to be important. We're excited to see the kinds of opportunities they find to invest in, new ways of helping people and creating change. My eye's on the next generation."

 

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