El Pomar Foundation was established in 1937 by Julie and Spencer Penrose to promote the wellbeing of the people of Colorado through grant making and community stewardship.
In addition to making grants totaling more than $320 million, the foundation is committed to providing additional and unique resources when dollars alone are not the solution. Since 1989, El Pomar has invested more than $34 million in its 11 community stewardship programs.
These community stewardship programs support community leaders of all ages. This initiative flows from Spencer Penrose’s belief in pioneering leadership. As he wrote, “The fact is, one great man opens and prepares the way for many others. Thus, the influence of great men is continually multiplied and increased.”
The Emerging Leadership Development Program (ELD) is a community stewardship program that provides opportunities to support multicultural leadership in Colorado Springs and Pueblo. The program identifies and encourages current and emerging ethnic minority leaders to embrace broad-based community involvement, civic engagement and service on boards and commissions.
ELD is a collaborative effort among El Pomar, leadership development programs and minority-focused community organizations. ELD offers training and outreach activities that extend into the broader Front Range community.
Since its inception in 2001, 121 ELD participants have participated in Colorado Springs and Pueblo community leadership programs, including the Center for Creative Leadership, Leadership Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs Leadership Institute and Leadership Pueblo.
ELD participants are identified through ethnic minority leadership forums such as the Asian American Leadership Forum, the ELD Black Leadership Forum, the Hispanic Leadership Forum (Springs), the Native American Leadership Forum and the Latino Leadership Forum (Pueblo).
El Pomar also provides scholarships for selected individuals to take part in these programs.
The 121 ELD program participants have developed key partnerships with the Urban League of the Pikes Peak Region, Pueblo United Way and the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce. These partnerships maximize ELD’s outreach initiatives, bringing key issues to the attention of school district administrators and establishing permanent recognition for the minority civic leaders of southern Colorado’s.
In 2005, ELD conducted a quality-of-life e-survey among members of minority communities. This survey indicated that education is the primary issue of concern for minorities in Colorado Springs.
To clarify those issues confronting youth, and to bring those issues to the attention of school district administrators, the Urban League and ELD formed the Multicultural Youth Leadership Initiative in August 2005.
That fall, more than 2,300 high school students from across the region took the ELD/MYLI survey to identify factors that impact their academic success. The key issues identified were: favoritism and racism, drug/alcohol use, peer influence, family responsibilities, low self-esteem and school counselors.
Urban League staff compiled the survey data. In January, 45 students from 14 area high schools gathered to discuss the data in focus groups, which were facilitated by ELD participants.
The data and focus group final report were presented to administrators from D-11, D-12, D-20, D-49 Falcon, D-2 Harrison, Manitou and the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind, all of whom had students participating in the focus groups. The districts’ plans for using this information vary, but all administrators expressed their interest in furthering their involvement with the ELD collaboration.
ELD participants in Pueblo have worked with the Pueblo Chamber of Commerce and Pueblo County United Way on a similar initiative, the Multicultural Youth Leadership Initiative for Excellence (MYLIFE). This initiative aims to enhance community service, foster leadership, encourage education, and promote career and professional development throughout Pueblo County.
With the encouragement of ELD participants, El Pomar Foundation has created space to celebrate the leaders of the region’s cultural heritage.
In February, a meeting room at the Penrose House was dedicated in the name of the Rev. Dr. Milton E. Proby (1929-2005).
The Milton E. Proby Cultural Heritage Room is dedicated to preserving and documenting the contributions of African-American, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian individuals from southern Colorado. It is a place to honor ethnic minority leaders whose lives have embodied the ideals of civic involvement and leadership.
In September, Sen. Casimiro Barela (1847-1920) was honored as the room’s first inductee.
Like Spencer Penrose, these leaders have “opened and prepared the way for many others”, and the emerging leaders of southern Colorado are proud to continue in their footsteps.
For more information, visit www.elpomar.org, or contact Theo Gregory at firstname.lastname@example.org or 577-7080.