Money for the taking at Philanthropy Days

Evelyn Tileston knows there's money out there, and she aims to get it.

That's what the director of the Independent Life Center did the last time Northwest Colorado Rural Philanthropy Days came to town. Tileston attended the event designed to put nonprofits and some government agencies in touch with potential funders. After meeting briefly with some representatives from charitable foundations, Tileston's effort paid off. Her grant request was approved to get a wheelchair-accessible van to shuttle people across town.

"I just said, 'We have people using wheelchairs up and down the road in the winter time because there's no way for them to get anywhere,'" Tileston said she told funders. "That's the reason we want this money."

But time is running out for local groups to sign up, said Susan Mizen, an organizer for the event.

It would be a shame, she said, for groups to miss out because the opportunity is only available to Moffat County organizations about every four years.

"It gives nonprofits an op----portunity to meet that person that they're writing a grant to and talk to them," Mizen said. "It makes that whole process of asking for money a little easier."

The event is scheduled for Sept. 11 to 13 in Granby. The registration deadline is Sept. 1, but those interested are encouraged to sign up before that to attend a training workshop Aug. 24 in Craig. The training is an important step for participants to organize a plan for requesting funds, organizer Corrie Scott said.

"It's important to go through an overview of the event on how to approach funders and what they're looking for," Scott said.

Historically, Front Range nonprofits had received a larger portion of monies slated to charitable causes than their rural counterparts. But that has changed since Rural Philanthropy Days was created about 15 years ago, Mizen said.

It's estimated that the event brings from $500,000 to $1.5 million to each five-county region after each event, the group reports.

Keith Antonson, director of the Moffat County Housing Authority, said he's attending the event this year without any specific grant requests in mind. However, he said it would be foolish to pass up an opportunity to meet a variety of potential funders, especially with them all in one place.

"I guess what I'm hopeful for is to get to know the funders, and letting folks know that there is somebody out here in rural Colorado," Antonson said. "I'm looking to meet people face to face in the event that if something does come up, you've already made that initial personal contact with that organization."

Antonson said he also plans to take advantage of the event's educational aspects, such as how to write effective grants.

Fewer than 10 Moffat County agencies have signed up for the event, Scott said. That's not a very strong showing, considering the potential to earn needed grant dollars, she said.

Groups can qualify for scholarships to waive the $75 registration fee.

Tileston said she has a specific goal this year. She will plug her case to get enough money to hire a computer technician that will teach computer skills to the elderly and those with disabilities. The Independent Life Center already has a computer center and a lucrative, three-to-one matching federal grant to float the program. So, if Tileston can get $5,000 in grant money for the position, the government will match it with $15,000. That would be enough to fund a salary to staff the computer room.

"People should go to this and not be afraid to ask for money," Tileston said of Philanthropy Days. "(Funders) really acted like people on a mission and their mission is to give away money."

Amy Hamilton can be reached at 824-7031.

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