History and Programs

Community Resource Center (CRC) was founded in 1981. The initial mission was to assist organizations that used community organizing to promote social change in Denver’s inner city. By 1984, the mission expanded to encompass the broad range of nonprofit organizations and community groups that provide services throughout Colorado. CRC has responded to the needs of the sector by continually developing new ways to serve Colorado’s nonprofits. Below is a brief history of our current programs:

Rural Philanthropy Days®

Established more than 30 years ago

For more than 30 years, CRC has been organizing the Rural Philanthropy Days (RPD)® program, which provides a powerful opportunity for the state’s most influential funders, government representatives, business leaders and local nonprofit organizations to strengthen partnerships and better meet the needs of Colorado’s rural communities. What started as a single event for Mesa County nonprofits and Front Range foundation representatives in 1990, has grown into a statewide, year-round program that remains rooted in developing and strengthening rural leaders and nonprofits and increasing philanthropic investment in rural communities.

Colorado Grants Guide®

Established in 1991

CRC published the inaugural edition of the Colorado Grants Guide in 1991, providing the first comprehensive guide to funding sources for Colorado nonprofits. This database empowers nonprofits to connect with foundations whose grantmaking initiatives align with their work. By streamlining grant research, nonprofits can focus development efforts on cultivating relationships with potential funding partners, leading to more financially stable organizations. In 2001, CRC established an online version with a continuously updated searchable database and . launched a new platform in 2022 offering a more streamlined process for researching funders and grant opportunities.

Participation Project

Established in 2010

The Participation Project was founded in 2010 as its own stand-alone 501c(3) organization and was adopted as a program of CRC in 2015. The Participation Project provides training, resources, and ongoing support to nonprofits to elevate their nonpartisan civic engagement efforts. Through the Participation Project, CRC partners with direct service nonprofits that work directly with traditionally marginalized communities in Colorado to register voters and engage those communities in elections.

AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA)

Established in 2014

More than 5,100 nonprofit organizations operate within rural Colorado. These organizations play a vital role in improving the quality of life in Colorado’s communities and providing services that alleviate poverty, addressing everything from transitional housing to early childhood education to strengthening local food systems. Serving as a VISTA, members gain professional skills, collaborate with local, regional, and state leaders, learn more about a new community, and get first-hand experience for future employment. VISTA members enable an organization to turn dream projects into reality. They build the organizational, operational, programmatic, and financial capacity of nonprofits that serve communities with less access to resources, building on their own strengths to alleviate poverty. In order to build the capacity of rural nonprofits in Colorado, CRC provides a number of AmeriCorps VISTA members to nonprofit partners across the state.

Colorado COVID-19 Containment Corps

In 2020 and 2021, CRC advanced the Colorado COVID Containment Corps (CCRC), a national service program to help curb the spread of COVID-19. CRC recruited and placed over 306 members to serve within the CCRC, providing critical capacity to the State of Colorado with contact tracing and case investigation, making 25,532 phone calls across 36 counties, and directly serving 21,098 people. CCRC members also supported efforts in vaccine outreach serving with grassroots nonprofit organizations to advance vaccine equity in hard-to-reach communities.

Colorado Healthcare Corps

Building upon the success of the 2020-2021 Colorado COVID-19 Containment Corps, CRC launched a new national service opportunity, the Colorado Healthcare Corps (CHC), in collaboration with the offices of Governor Polis, Lt. Governor Primavera, Serve Colorado, and the Colorado Departments of Public Health & Environment and Labor & Employment. The goal of this program is to provide urgently needed capacity to healthcare facilities, which are experiencing a historic shortage of skilled workers, which is driven and exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as healthcare workers continue to leave the field. In addition to meeting these urgent needs, the program will provide a pathway to enter or reenter high-demand careers in the healthcare industry for AmeriCorps members who are entering or reentering the healthcare field to work in-person in understaffed roles such as certified nursing aides, qualified medication administrators, medical assistants, or other non-medical support services.

Other Major Milestones

  • CRC continued its focus on innovation and community change throughout the 1980′s. In 1986, CRC founded Community Shares of Colorado to challenge United Way’s workplace giving monopoly and to provide fundraising opportunities for most nonprofits. In 1987, CRC founded the Colorado Association of Nonprofit Organizations to provide a unified voice for the nonprofit sector. In 2022 CRC’s annual budget is $8.3 million and employs 33 regular staff members, in addition to temporary staff, interns and volunteers.
  • In 1990, CRC founded the Rural Philanthropy Days (RPD)® conference.
  • In 1990, CRC launched the Colorado Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program for Executive Directors. This statewide program built the leadership capacity of over 1,000 emerging leaders of small, grassroots nonprofits in the sector over the past 30 years until it was put on hiatus in 2021.
  • In 1991, CRC launched the Colorado Grants Guide®.
  • In 1995, CRC received The Samaritan Institute Award from the Colorado Ethics in Business Awards Committee for illustrating the importance of ethical values in its community work.
  • In 2001, CRC took the lead in creating Save Our Section 8 (SOS 8), a coalition of tenants of Section 8 housing, to press for the preservation of current subsidized housing and the creation of new low-income housing initiatives. By 2003, SOS8 had become an independent 501(c)(3), led by a board of Section 8 tenants, with its own staff and office.
  • In 2001, CRC launched the online version of the Colorado Grants Guide®.
  • In 2003, CRC launched NPower Colorado in 2003 as a technology resource center for nonprofit organizations. At the time, NPower Colorado was one of twelve affiliates of the national NPower movement, which aims to put technology know-how in the hands of nonprofits. This partnership between CRC and NPower Colorado continued through April 2009.
  • In December 2006, Steve Graham, CRC’s Executive Director, passed away unexpectedly.
  • From 2010 to 2019, in partnership with Philanthropy CO and the CO Nonprofit, CRC executed the C3 Forum, a nonprofit conference.
  • From 2013 to 2016, CRC collaborated with partners to host a statewide listening tour for funders across rural Colorado.
  • In 2014 CRC established the statewide AmeriCorps VISTA Program.
  • In 2015, CRC acquired the Colorado Participation Project.
  • In 2017, CRC established the Root Causes Network, to provide a permanent infrastructure to build the capacity of human service nonprofits to advance inclusive and community-centered policy.
  • In 2017, CRC hosted the first annual State of the Sector event.
  • In 2018 CRC became a certified service enterprise organization.
  • In 2020, CRC developed the Rural Action Network® (RAN) as an overarching umbrella for rural work that serves as a comprehensive model for rural engagement.
  • In 2020 and 2021, CRC advanced the Colorado COVID Containment Corps (CCRC), a national service program which recruited AmeriCorps members to help curb the spread of COVID-19 by providing critical capacity to the State of Colorado with contact tracing and case investigation and ultimately serving more than 21,000 people.
  • In 2021, CRC accepted the America’s Service Commissions Outstanding Service Program award for its efforts providing critical capacity to the State of Colorado in the CCRC.
  • In 2022, CRC launched the Colorado Healthcare Corps in collaboration with the offices of Governor Polis, Lt. Governor Primavera, Serve Colorado, and the Colorado Departments of Public Health & Environment and Labor & Employment to address the critical shortage of skilled healthcare workers across the state.
  • In 2022, CRC registered the Rural Philanthropy Days and RPD Trademark on the US Principal Registry
  • In 2024, CRC registered the Rural Action Network Trademark on the US Principal Registry