How did CGF get started?
In 1958, a group of six people formed a nonprofit board with the purpose of raising money to support the Denver Botanic Gardens, which opened the same year. The organization has gone on to support education, research, scholarships, and other programs to further the cause of horticulture and gardening in Colorado. They created the Colorado Garden Show as a fundraising entity. The first show was held in 1960, attracting nearly 18,000 people over four days. In 1963, the show added home products and displays and the name was changed to the Colorado Garden & Home Show. In 2013, the organization’s name was changed to the Colorado Garden Foundation to better promote its funding mission for horticulture-related grants and scholarships.
How much money does CGF donate each year?
Since 1989, CGF has donated more than $10 million in grants and scholarships. Our funding level is now at about $700,000 per year, with $500,000 distributed through grants and $200,000 in scholarships. This year, out of 130 proposals asking for $3.7 million collectively, we provided grants for 64 organizations that totaled $532,000. We also awarded 18 scholarships, including a four-year, full-ride scholarship. In the coming years, we hope to give away $1 million a year, including scholarships that will focus on workforce development.
Who are your funding recipients?
All the money we donate stays in Colorado, reaching all four corners of the state. Over the last 30 years, 430 organizations have received grants from us. We fund only nonprofit organizations and municipalities, and consider all proposals large and small. We fund larger nonprofits like the Denver Botanic Gardens and Craig Hospital as well as small communities like Otis and Nucla. Our scholarship program is available to degree-seeking students as well as people who want a trade or certification-based education. CGF is very proud of the impact we’re having on engaging more people across the state with the benefits and beauty of horticulture.
Are you seeing any funding trends?
We’re seeing a growing number of grant applications for community gardens and high school horticulture programs. Communities are becoming more engaged with growing food and decorative plants locally, while high schools are seeing numerous benefits from having a greenhouse. In that environment, a variety of classes like math and social science can apply their specific subject matter to learning about what’s involved with growing plants and the benefits.
How can CNGA members tap into CGF?
First, CGF is a viable scholarship resource for any company who wants to invest in their workers. We have numerous examples of people already in the workforce who have used our scholarships to enhance their education and advance their careers. Make your staff aware of these scholarships. Secondly, we know that CNGA members often get approached for plant material donations and that they can only donate so much each year. Rather than saying, “Sorry, we’ve reached our donation budget,” you can refer them to our grant program where we can help them with their horticulture needs. As our home and garden shows grow, we’re going to increase our donations and hopefully continue to expand the number of organizations that we fund each year. Visit www.coloaradogardenfoundation.org to learn more.