Epic Work: Broadening What it Means to be a Philanthropist

Nicole Baker

The Denver Foundation is receiving national recognition for its efforts to deepen, leverage, and grow philanthropy among communities of color. A $200,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) is helping to enhance this work. This grant supports Elevating Philanthropy in Communities of Color (EPIC), a focus at the Foundation, which aims to broaden the definition of what it means to be a philanthropist and to acknowledge the long history of philanthropic contributions of people of color, whose gifts include time, talent, treasure, and testimony.“ says LaDawn Sullivan, Director of Leadership and Equity at The Denver Foundation. 

Celebrating Black Philanthropy

The Denver Foundation presented a well-attended celebration to launch Black Philanthropy Month in August at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. In Metro Denver, families, faith-based congregations, organizations, and generous individuals have kept giving traditions alive for decades. Denver Delta Eta Boule, which has roots that date to 1921, has distributed more than $300,000 in scholarships for rising African American men since 1998. The Denver (CO) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, an African American women’s organization formed in 1952, has contributed more than $1 million and over 325,000 hours of community service to organizations that work to enrich the lives of others.

In partnership with The Denver Foundation, Denver Urban Spectrum featured several African American philanthropists in the Denver Metro community as the cover story of its August issue. The article shared many illustrations of these historic contributions. Featured philanthropists included Kathryn and Jim Kaiser, who have made philanthropy and service a cornerstone of their 25 years in Denver. The Kaisers give through a donor-advised fund at The Denver Foundation, and their daughter Lauren is learning the ropes.

Corazón y Generosidad

“Through my philanthropy, I really hope to accomplish an increased awareness of what the face of philanthropy looks like-- it can come from communities of color, and we can have a significant impact,” says Marlene DeLaRosa, a member of LatinasGive! DeLaRosa is one of the philanthropists featured in Corazon y Generosidad: Heart and Generosity, a photography exhibit showcasing Latino donors and fundholders of The Denver Foundation. The grand opening of this exhibit at the Rodolfo Corky Gonzales Library Branch kicked off National Hispanic Heritage Month in September and included a powerful spoken word performance by Molina Speaks. Another featured philanthropist, former Denver Foundation board member, and donor-advised fundholder Luella Chavez D’Angelo, says, “It is my family that inspires me to give. It is important that the causes we choose to support align with our family values and to the hopes and dreams we have as a family for improving equality in our communities. We want to teach our children and grandchildren what giving does for others.”

Corazon y Generosidad, featuring photos by Flor Blake, were on display at the library through November 2016. The Denver Foundation is pleased to be the philanthropic home to philanthropists of all backgrounds. EPIC will continue to partner with and highlight stories of people of color giving back, inspiring others to do the same, and changing the narrative of who philanthropists are. It is our job and our privilege to do just that.

Elevating Philanthropy In Communities of Color (EPIC) is an ongoing investment that is critical to achieving our mission to inspire people and mobilize resources to strengthen our community. EPIC’s objectives are to: recognize and grow philanthropy in communities of color; connect philanthropists of color with tools, education, and resources; and bring together committed donors of color to build relationships and impact positive community change.

Contact us

Senior Communications Officer: Laura Bond | lbond@denverfoundation.org

Communications Associate: Dele Johnson | djohnson@denverfoundation.org


  • Leadership & Equity
  • Giving Circles