Steamboat City Council approves $520K for local nonprofits |

Steamboat City Council approves $520K for local nonprofits

Representatives from local nonprofits collect donations on Yampa Valley Gives Day. (File photo)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In a year where many local nonprofits have taken financial hits due to COVID-19, members of the Steamboat Springs City Council and city staff felt it especially important to continue the decadeslong tradition of budgeting community support funds, designated specifically for nonprofits.

“These nonprofits provide a service to the community,” said Kim Weber, city of Steamboat Springs finance director. “It also helps the nonprofits when they have this allocation from the city because it shows the support from the local municipality.”

The council planned a conservative budget for 2021 with expected sales tax revenue decreases due to COVID-19, which Weber said contributed to a 6% decrease in the planned 2021 community support funding.

The city budgets a portion of its general fund to three coalitions — arts and culture, environment, and health and human services. Heads of each coalition collect applications from nonprofits under their umbrellas, conduct interviews with representatives from each organization and then split up funding between various groups.

Council approved a total of $520,225 on Tuesday, with $307,754 for the human resources coalition, $148,673 for the arts and culture coalition and $63,798 for the environmental coalition.

“It’s quite a process but it has been working beautifully over the last 10 years,” said Kim Keith, executive director of Steamboat Creates. “Almost everyone that applies gets funding because they all have a unique purpose and story to tell.”

Keith said arts and culture nonprofits have provided a unique service during COVID-19 isolations, despite having a more difficult virtual transition.

“We’re all experiencing so much social isolation and to be able to turn your computer on and have a smiling face teaching you how to do an art project is so important and helpful,” Keith said. “It’s critical to maintain some semblance of normalcy in the midst of a pandemic that has taken a toll on all of us.”

Kate Nowak, executive director of Routt County United Way, also expressed gratitude for the council’s funding despite a decrease the city’s sales tax revenue.

“We’re all working a nonstop number of hours to serve the needs of our community and this support is greatly appreciated,” Nowak said.

There was discussion as to whether or not there was going to be a reduction in the 2020 funding, “though we never discussed not doing this,” Weber said.

While many Routt County residents have dealt with financial hardships due to COVID-19, nonprofits have seen generous donations throughout the year, particularly on Yampa Valley Gives Day, which tallied a record $1.1 million in donations to area nonprofits.

“The generosity has been incredible throughout the whole year,” said Holly Wilson, Yampa Valley Community Foundation office manager. “People feel like they want to help in some way, and I think this inspires people to give.”

Keith echoed that sentiment and said she believes as isolation periods continue while COVID-19 cases increase across the country, people are hungry to learn new skills and self-expression, for which Routt County’s arts and culture nonprofits have met the demand.

“With performing arts in particular, it’s very difficult to replace the energy and the uniqueness of having in-person events,” Keith said. “They were still able to do the work that they had planned to do and sometimes even more.”

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