2023 Business Awards Large Nonprofit of the Year Finalists

2023 Business Awards Large Nonprofit of the Year Finalists

Each year, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce recognizes organizations that are writing Denver’s next chapter in business. Join us for the 2023 Business Awards presented by BOK Financial on April 27, 2023 to see the winners announced live! This year’s Large Nonprofit of the Year finalists are: Colorado Enterprise FundFood Bank of the Rockies and WellPower. Get to know each organization more below.

Since 1976, Colorado Enterprise Fund has operated with the same purpose from the beginning – advancing community prosperity by providing resources to those who are disadvantaged. Ceyl Prinster, president & CEO of the Colorado Enterprise Fund, emphasized its dedication to small businesses by supporting business owners who may not have the capital or resources and helping them make their dreams “a reality first and a success second.”

Coming from a career in banking, Prinster started with the organization 35 years ago as its first employee. She has truly seen it evolve over the years. Starting with 200,000 assets and loan capital, Colorado Enterprise Fund has since loaned out over $200 million with a 96 percent repayment rate.

The lending institution has supported companies that provide products that may sound familiar. For instance, the Boppy Pillow was created by a Colorado-based company that the Colorado Enterprise Fund helped start. Seeing these small businesses flourish is what drives Prinster, who loves it when she sees a borrower’s product while strolling down the aisles of Whole Foods.

Prinster describes the Metro Denver business community as one filled with a compassionate and entrepreneurial spirit. These factors are also a leading driver in her own mission and work through the Colorado Enterprise Fund. “We want everyone to have opportunity, and having a small business is one of the best ways to build wealth and have stability,” said Prinster.

Founded 45 years ago, Food Bank of the Rockies was designed to be a resource for food pantries. “We really started out by diverting food that would otherwise go into the landfill and getting it to food pantries,” said Erin Pulling, president & CEO of Food Bank of the Rockies. “It’s evolved over time to also include direct distribution to people experiencing food insecurity.”

With this in mind, Food Bank of the Rockies prioritizes freshness, quality and diversifying the food it sees coming in. To accomplish this, Food Bank of the Rockies purchases more than 30 percent of its total food supply and works with local farms.

Food Bank of the Rockies covers 32 counties in Colorado and all of Wyoming; it boasts the biggest geographic footprint in the continuous U.S. – more than any of the other 200 food banks under Feeding America. “We distribute enough food each day for 180,000 meals. We’re running four separate facilities in Colorado and Wyoming. We’re also running 70 mobile pantries for direct distribution to those experiencing food insecurity,” added Pulling.

The gratitude from the clients is what makes the work fulfilling. “We focus on culturally responsive food and fresh produce. When we hear comments like, ‘I can’t believe we’re receiving tamale ingredients’ or ‘I can’t believe I’m receiving a halal meal that are specific to my Afghan culture’, that’s really what keeps us going,” shared Pulling.

WellPower offers education and employment services, financial assistance and education, access to nutritious food and urban farm. All this, as well as providing mental health services to the city and county of Denver. “We know that people are more than their diagnoses,” said Kate Osmundson, Director of Communications and Marketing at WellPower. “It can’t just stop at treatment. We have to take care of the whole person.”

Formerly Mental Health Center of Denver, WellPower changed its name to “write the story” and reclaim the stigma around mental well-being. “We know people are diagnosing at home and saying, ‘Society is telling me to pick myself up by my bootstraps’,” added Osmundson. The name change reflects WellPower’s goal to knock down barriers so that more people can access treatment.

WellPower is no stranger to the affect the COVID-19 pandemic had on the population as isolation took its toll. “Since the pandemic, we saw a tidal wave of need as more people are talking about mental health and wanting to explore treatment with us,” said Osmundson. Emerging from the pandemic, this is a positive sign that the conversation around mental health is becoming more open.