Who We Are
Chinook Fund is Colorado's community foundation supporting grassroots groups leading the movement for equality, economic justice and issues of racial and social justice. Chinook Fund provides critical seed funding for young, grassroots organizations with the potential to have systemic impact on social justice and human rights issues across the state of Colorado. We are recognized throughout the state for our pioneering support of organizations that work to create a just, equitable and free society by transforming oppressive and discriminatory political, social and economic systems and institutions. We support organizations which are challenging the root causes of oppression, rather than treating the symptoms. We believe the root causes of our most serious social problems include entrenched, systemic, and institutionalized racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ableism and ageism.
Chinook's primary movement-building strategy is our community activist-led grantmaking. The organizations that Chinook has launched, by providing first grants, technical assistance, and long-term funding over their early years, are today the leaders of social change in our state. Chinook Fund grantees which have achieved significant wins and made headlines include Colorado Progressive Coalition (Chinook provided the initial grant that launched CPC), 9-5 Colorado, Rights for All People, Padres Unidos, Metro Organizations for People, Congregations Building Community, Colorado ADAPT, Western Equality, and many others.
Since our founding, we have distributed over $2.5 million in grants to 300 organizations across the state of Colorado. We give small grants to new and emerging groups, providing infrastructural support from the beginning. Often, we are the first foundation grant that our grantees have applied or received. Chinook Fund brings democracy alive by investing in transformation and leadership in order to strengthen grassroots organizations that are building movements for positive change. The Chinook Fund strives for a partnership of activists and donors -- of accountability to community -- so that people from all walks of life can be invested in social change.
Chinook Fund continues to provides visionary leadership in the philanthropic sector. A successful social justice movement requires not only leadership and direct action by grassroots community groups, but also the support and participation of allies with means. From its inception, Chinook has identified and empowered progressive people to organize among their peers. We talk to donors and potential donors about their political interests, and then link them to the work of our grantees and other appropriate organizations. We encourage them to get involved in the work that is going on.
We have challenging conversations with our volunteers. We discuss with them what we are learning about dismantling the racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism that exists in every group or institution. We encourage them to look at the organizations to which they belong through this lens, and to take action to change the unhealthy patterns that they see. And we talk to them about the importance of allowing and empowering the people who are most affected by an injustice to lead the movement for change – rather than using one’s clout as a donor to control the movement. Whenever possible, Chinook plays similar roles with more traditional (and wealthier) foundations, talking about racism, sexism etc. within our movement, putting them in touch with grassroots community organizations, and explaining why effective, long-lasting social change must be led by the people.