Foundation fund

La Plata Impact Fund Led by Local Businesses – The Durango Herald

When local business owner Jonny Radding contacted the Local First Foundation to start the La Plata Impact Fund, he had just finished reading the book “Let My People Go Surfing,” written by the founder and owner of Patagonia. . In the book, Yvon Chouinard detailed an alliance of companies that contributed at least 1% of their annual net sales to approved environmental organizations. Radding was inspired to give back to La Plata County after finding success himself as co-owner and co-founder of Durango Organics.

Radding was not alone. At the same time, local business owners John Shaw and Tim Turner were also considering ways in which businesses could collectively give back and how to significantly reduce social inequalities and systemic problems in the community. Thus, the La Plata Impact Fund was created in 2021 to enable businesses and individuals in the region to pledge 1% and give back to the community in a meaningful way.

Not your average community fund. It’s not just a savings account that perhaps pays above-average interest and is run by a foundation. The founders of La Plata Impact Fund set an intention at the beginning of the year, deciding what problem to solve before raising funds to reach the annual goal of $1 million. Then the Foundation gets to work, not only helping to raise funds and educate, but acting as boots on the ground by attending community meetings, researching the topic of interest, and speaking with leaders, business owners and residents. Founders then choose which projects receive funding based on current needs and detailed information on how the money will be used.

This fund is a reflection of the tight-knit community we live in and how we help each other and make our county more resilient. These business owners and leaders believe this fund is also a way to show their gratitude to a region that has brought them prosperity, by pooling dollars to reinvest in a better community.

In 2022, the founders have decided to target affordable and workforce housing as the issue of the year. Then, in February, residents of Westside Mobile Home Park needed $535,000 to close the deal on buying the park. The Plata Impact Fund has mobilized to take up the challenge. Helping residents secure a better future for their families galvanized the ambitions of the founders. As Westside Mobile Home Park resident, activist and now property manager Alejandra Chavez spoke at the fund’s launch event last month, there was no sec in the house. Business owners and individuals could see what their collective money had done in real time and in a relatively short period of time.

There is still work to be done for the La Plata Impact Fund as more businesses and individuals are encouraged to be part of this local effort to help residents. Making the 1% pledge means that a company or individual declares that they will give back to the community at least 1% of their income and that at least 25% of this amount will go to the fund. This means that if someone makes $1,000,000 in income, $10,000 will be reinvested in the community, and $2,500 of that amount will go towards the fund’s $1 million annual fundraising goal.

The fund has an additional $465,000 to spend this year on affordable/workforce housing. However, the founders are already looking ahead to 2023 with a renewed goal of raising $1 million to apply to another area of ​​community need. With local and national discussions about the enormous challenges in mental health, childcare, health care and education, local businesses can give back in many ways. It’s a matter of coming together. Determined to make an impact.

Sarah Tober is Executive Director of the Local First Foundation.