For the past three years, the Southern Colorado Community Foundation has given close to $1 million to nonprofit organizations.


“It’s gratifying; it’s humbling,” said Jeff Osterman, executive director of the foundation. “It’s very rewarding to know that people in Southern Colorado want to support Southern Colorado’s needs.”


This year, the SCCF distributed $985,000 across 35 Southern Colorado agencies, including the Center for American Values, Blue Rose Ranch, Pueblo Cooperative Care Center, La Veta Trails Pueblo School for Arts and Sciences Fulton Heights, Toys Against Tears Catholic Charities, Valley Backpacks, Pueblo Rape Crisis Center, Huerfano County Youth Services and elevateHer.


“We have been progressively growing over time,” said Jeff Osterman of the SCCF. “As we’ve been able to grow, we’re able to distribute more funds.”


The Community Foundation Census, a study of 855 community foundations in the U.S. published on Feb. 18,reported that the SCCF was one of the country’s “Top 40 Fastest Growing Community Foundations.” With 25.8% growth in 2015, the SCCF was one of two community foundations in the state to be named to the list.


The SCCF encompasses 18 counties: Alamosa, Baca, Bent, Chaffee, Cornejos, Costilla, Crowley, Custer, Fremont, Huerfano, Kiowa, Las Animas, Mineral, Otero, Prowers, Pueblo, Rio Grande and Saguache.


“We’re one of the top 35 fastest growing community foundations in the country, which is pretty awesome considering this is also the poorest area of the state,” Osterman said.


According to Osterman, the SCCF’s most recent growth may be contributed to increased awareness of the role of community foundations along with the generosity of local donors. The SCCF serves as a middleman for donors and organizations.


“We can help them distribute those funds to organizations and help them get connected with organizations that they might not be aware of that they want to support,” Osterman said. “We do all the vetting of the programs.”


In order to be funded by the SCCF, nonprofits must be financially sound and offer quality programs according to Osterman.