A few years ago, there was strong speculation that all of the community foundations in New Mexico would merge and become one statewide entity with some serious collective power at its disposal. That merger idea ended up falling through, largely due to concerns about foundation representation on a new shared board and vast differences in individual foundation assets. The Taos Community Foundation, Albuquerque Community Foundation, and Santa Fe Community Foundation all dropped out of that deal, so it’s been back to grantmaking as usual for the various community funders across the state.
But with this failed merger comes new opportunities for very localized community foundations that are just getting off the ground. A good example of this is the Grant County Community Foundation (GCCF), which was established back in 2012 but just recently made its very first round of grants. The grants went to five local organizations and totaled $20,000, not a huge amount by many community foundations’ standards, but still an impressive feat for a new funder that's had just $201,432 in net assets lately.
Rather than exclusively funding Grant County, New Mexico, GCCF actually considers grant applications from nonprofits in the New Mexico counties of Hidalgo, Luna, and Catron too. It’s based in Silver City, New Mexico and was the first county fund to be established within the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico.
Of the newly awarded $20,000, $15,000 of it came from GCCF’s unrestricted funds and $5,000 came from the Sebert Brewer Fund. Sebert Brewer was a founder of GCCF, and this fund was established by his widow, Barrett Brewer. Barrett Brewer currently serves as the president, board chair, and primary foundation contact person for GCCF.
The very first GCCF grants went to Deming Silver Linings, the Virus Theater, Mimbres Culture Heritage Site, the Gila Valley Library, and the Lotus Center. A total of fourteen organizations applied for GCCF grants in this first round of giving, which was more than the funder expected.
“I thought six or seven [would apply],” Barrett Brewer said. “We were exceptionally surprised and pleased. But, that shows how tight money is these days.”
Grantmaking decisions were made by a program and grants committee at GCCF, which was make up of Barrett Brewer, as well as Susie Trujillo, Fred Barraza, Stacey Cox, Mattie Eagle, Jane Giliespie, Vicki Johnson, and Priscilla Lucero. The group's goal was to keep the foundation money in Grant County and elsewhere in Southwest New Mexico, and they did precisely that.
Last fall, GCCF sponsored a free workshop event to connect local nonprofits to major funders in New Mexico about the most pressing needs in the region. Other event sponsors were the United Way of Southwest New Mexico, Freeport-McMoRan, and the Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments. The goal here was to spark a spirit of collaboration and foster connections that go beyond GCCF’s individual capabilities as a grantmaker.
“We invited almost all of the major funders in New Mexico—Kellogg, McCune, Thornburg, Con Alma Health Foundations, Enchanted Life Foundation, New Mexico Community Foundation, the Santa Fe Community Foundation, and Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico,” Brewer said. “We think we have just about everybody we need to have at the table. This is very big for Grant County. This is the first time we have ever done anything like this.”
You can learn more about GCCF’s giving and application procedures in IP’s profile of the Grant County Community Foundation.