Several area residents saw the need for a locally based philanthropy and began the hard work of setting up the Lyons Community Foundation in 2007. John Burke, Gary LaFever, Rick England among others were key in laying this groundwork. Connie Eyster and Christy Crosser were the first Advisory Board co-chairs. LCF was established under the umbrella of the Community Foundation of Boulder County and remains one of their funds. The Boulder County Community Foundation has been a successful regional nonprofit for over 25 years and offers support and guidance while allowing LCF to operate largely independently in addressing Lyons-area needs.
Establishing a new non-profit foundation and awarding grants within the first year was no small feat. Local businessman John Burke created the “founding contributors” concept whereby local businesses and residents were asked to commit to a 2-5 year contribution program that could establish a sustainable giving base. Through the commitment of roughly 30 such donors, LCF was able to begin awarding grants right away, when industry standard is typically a three-year lead time for a new granting cycle.
The reasons for having a local-based nonprofit included the ability to address the unique needs of a small and diverse community. There are projects that otherwise could not occur given the budget and constraints of a small town. Also, it gives local businesses and individuals a go-to centralized resource to help and enhance their community.
For some perspective on the wide-range of projects funded, here are the top programs and funding amounts supported through the Community Support Granting Cycle since 2008:
$102,669- LEAF/Food Pantry/Basic Needs Fund
$72,812- Youth/School Enchriment/Educational programming: scientific equipment, after prom, marching band, tech equipment, field trips, youth sports, youth volunteer programs
$50,310- Public Arts and Music: Lyons Art Walk, Sounds of Lyons, Clarifier project
$45,350- Town of Lyons/Parks and Recreation: Sandstone Summer Concert series, Parade of Lights, Lyons Outdoor Games, Good old Days, Youth and Senior Programming
$26,000- Youth Scholarships for area college-bound students
$24,350- Health and Human Services: 9Health Fair, parent education, help resource guide
$23,750- Ecology Projects, landscape beautification and environmental sustainability
$21,800- Historical Preservation: Lyons History and Lyons Museum
$17,250- Senior services and programming; meals on wheels
$7000- Lyons Library
$6000- Animal Welfare: Humane society and Greenwood Wildlife rehab
$2850- Economic Development: business support, Lyons Economic Gardening Group, Lyons Chamber of Commerce
In no time was the need for a local foundation more critical than during the flood. Because LCF existed, the “Rebuild Lyons One life at Time” grant program was able to spring into action, awarding over $1M to local residents and businesses when they needed it most. While regional and national aid programs exist, their impact would not have been as direct or swift. Funds were given out within three months of the flood to address critical needs. In addition, the Rebuild Lyons Fund continued to address longer term and persistent needs of those affected by the flood.
Since 2013, the “Rebuild Lyons” fund has awarded over $410,000 to support everything from Lyons Volunteers who help residents in their clean up, rebuild and recovery process, landscape and ecology restoration including reseeding, ditch restoration and landscape recovery and the Lyons Fire Department rebuild of station #2 which was lost in the flood. The Larimer County Long Term Recovery Group utilized Rebuild funds to help with construction and volunteer management, and LEAF programs including the hiring of housing advocates, emergency client services and assistance in buying a van for the food pantry were all made possible by Rebuild funds that have assisted Lyons area residents with their long term recovery.
The Lyons Community Foundation exists because of the passion and dedicated efforts of Lyons residents. Many volunteers, donors, past and present board members and project leaders devote countless hours of their lives with the sincere desire to help their neighbors and friends as well as enhance the culture and community experience of living in our wonderful town. We applaud the efforts of all those who have contributed over the years, and invite anyone to participate in our work. All are welcome.