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The Telluride Foundation was one of three community foundations nationwide selected for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Community Development Initiative. The grant award of $123,000, which will support a "Paradox Basin Community Giving Campaign" with a total program budget of $250,000, was announced on August 14th by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who highlighted the award's purpose in creating jobs and supporting rural communities and business development. The Foundation was awarded funding specifically to build its capacity around "Transfer of Wealth" (TOW) strategies, which seek to take advantage of the tremendous opportunity made possible by estates transferring in the next 50 years and placing some of that wealth in permanent charitable endowments to support local rural communities and charitable organizations in perpetuity.


Grant funding will provide training on how communities in the Paradox Basin, including the towns of Norwood, Nucla, Naturita, Paradox, Dove Creek, and Rico, can benefit and use the information provided in a soon-to-be-released "Wealth in the Paradox Region of Colorado" Report. This Report is based upon the important research of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship and highlights an incredible opportunity for community development in Dolores, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel counties. The Foundation funded this study because it believes that these rural counties in southwest Colorado offer an untapped resource for community development through TOW. In addition, grant funding will provide training on individual giving opportunities, including gifts of real estate and stocks, bequests, gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, divided estates, etc. and technical assistance in developing a rural philanthropy, community giving campaign in the communities of the Paradox Basin. These campaigns could enable local governments or community organizations to leverage philanthropic dollars and promote community funds/endowments that would produce long-term alternative funding sources for rural development projects.


As demonstrated in over 1,000 counties nationwide, the ability of recipient communities and rural development organizations to better understand and take advantage of their TOW opportunities can bring direct economic benefits to rural communities with otherwise limited financial resources and community development opportunities. For example in the small rural town of Ord, Nebraska, a community-driven, economic development strategy based on utilizing TOW information and a rural philanthropy campaign generated $89 million in local investment.


The Telluride Foundation seeks to bring similar insights and outcomes to the region. "Our communities in southwest Colorado have abundant resources, and include some of the most generous people in the nation, so imagine if only five percent of this wealth were invested back into local communities and charitable organizations and held in permanent endowments for local communities," said Paul Major, President of the Telluride Foundation, "Such investment would provide long-term community development resources for local communities to shape their own future and stable funding to support the quality of life that makes our corner of Colorado so unique and special."


Initial results from the Wealth in the Paradox Region of Colorado Report indicate that the Paradox region (defined in the Report as Ouray, San Miguel, Montrose, Dolores and Montezuma counties) is likely to face a significant TOW opportunity beginning as early as 2020, and that over the next 10 years, an estimated $1.13 billion will be available to transfer between generations in Paradox region households. Furthermore, the Report estimates that if just 5% of the 10 year TOW opportunity were to be captured by local nonprofit and community organizations, for the betterment of the Paradox region communities, those organizations would realize almost $56.7 million.


The Telluride Foundation exists to create a stronger Telluride community through the promotion and support of philanthropy. It is a nonprofit, apolitical community foundation that provides year-round support for local organizations involved in arts, education, athletics, charitable causes, land conservation and other community-based efforts through technical assistance, education and grant making. As a grant maker, the Foundation awards grants to qualified applicants that serve the people living and working in the Telluride area for the purpose of enhancing the quality of life within the region. For more information on the Telluride Foundation visit