Boettcher Foundation Announces COLead Initiative

Initiative components to invest in leaders, connect organizations and communities

DENVER, February 9, 2021 — Today, the Boettcher Foundation is announcing a new initiative that will connect individuals, organizations, and communities as part of the organization’s vision to invest in courageous leadership and community-building across Colorado.

Called COLead, the initiative is the outcome of the Foundation’s year-long effort to discern how it can build a connected, inclusive, and accessible leadership ecosystem that serves all of Colorado.

“This work is a continuation of our 84 year history of investing in human capital,” said Katie Kramer, president & CEO of the Boettcher Foundation. “COLead represents our strategic approach to elevate community champions, strengthen leadership networks, and convene stakeholders in a unique way that will propel Colorado forward.”

The initiative will feature a portfolio of programming, communications, and grantmaking investments (outlined below) beginning in 2021 with other components phased in over time. The name of COLead was designed to mean a group of Colorado individuals who collaborate to advance community leadership.

Beginning in late 2019, the Foundation began convening community leaders from throughout Colorado to better understand the assets, needs, and opportunities of the leadership landscape. From talking with nearly 180 individuals from nearly 139 organizations, Kramer noted several themes emerged from those conversations.

Stakeholders agreed that several core areas could strengthen the leadership ecosystem in Colorado – elimination of barriers to access leadership opportunities, more diversification of participants within leadership programs, stronger collaboration among organizations and individuals, and more emphasis on leadership development.

“The Foundation is uniquely positioned to champion leadership and strengthen the ecosystem,” Kramer said. “We have a long-standing and deep history with the organizations, community issues, and people in rural, urban, and suburban Colorado. And there is so much for us to learn as we embark on this journey.”

COLead will launch in 2021 with four components:

  • Fellowship: The Fellowship will identify, celebrate, elevate, and connect the community champions from across Colorado who serve as both informal and formal leaders. The Foundation will announce the first cohort in the fall.
  • Leadership Collaborative: The collaborative will create a space for stakeholders to come together to advance leadership in their organizations, communities, and regions. The intent is to share knowledge, access resources, and amplify impact.
  • Leadership Stories: The story project will help define what leadership means to Coloradans, telling the stories of community champions who are both formal and informal leaders. Leaders of all ages, backgrounds, industries, and geographies are impactful in our state’s leadership ecosystem – and the Foundation will celebrate them and share their narratives.
  • Ecosystem Map: To best support leadership in Colorado, the Foundation aims to understand the leadership ecosystem and how it functions. To that end, it will develop a leadership ecosystem map that identifies and visually represents the individuals, organizations, communities, and/or institutions who are part of the leadership landscape and the connections that exist between them.

“To fulfill the promise of Colorado and potential of Coloradans means we need to focus on leadership and leverage the power of connection and collaboration,” Kramer said. “We operate under the belief that investment in leadership pays off for decades, far after the philanthropic contribution has been spent.”

For more information on the COLead Initiative, visit

About the Boettcher Foundation

At the Boettcher Foundation, we believe in the promise of Colorado and the potential of Coloradans. Every day we champion excellence across our state by investing in our most talented citizens and high-potential organizations, because supporting their hard work and leadership will enable them to give back for years to come.

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