COLead Initiative

At the Boettcher Foundation,

WE LEAD transformational impact.

WE BELIEVE in the promise of Colorado and potential of Coloradans. Every day we champion excellence across our state by investing in our high-potential people and organizations, because supporting their hard work and leadership will enable them to give back for years to come.

WE LEVERAGE the power of collaboration and connection as we strive to help transform communities by investing in courageous leadership and community building.

2020: Stakeholder Engagement

In 2020, we embarked on a year-long journey to understand Colorado’s community leadership assets, needs, and opportunities. We asked 170 individuals across five regions: how can we build a connected, inclusive, and accessible leadership ecosystem that serves all 64 counties in Colorado?

Stakeholders, who represented 140 organizations, agreed that four core areas could strengthen the ecosystem – eliminate barriers to access leadership opportunities; diversify participants of leadership programs; strengthen the connection and cohesion among individuals, organizations, and communities; and emphasize leadership development.

These conversations and insights are detailed in the Foundation’s white paper, released in January of 2021.

COLead white paper

White Paper

In addition to those challenges and opportunities, two powerful themes emerged:

  • Human capital is Colorado’s greatest asset. At the core of what makes leaders who they are is a deep commitment to their community, a willingness to put in the work to make something happen, and the ability to bring others along with them.
  • What makes Colorado communities flourish is more than the presence of organizations, institutions, or programs. The magic ingredient is those who see and work for a brighter tomorrow. Rather than a title or position, leadership is a combination of activities and behaviors that involve influencing and working alongside others. And the impact of these efforts can come from formal or informal leaders.

Moving Forward: COLead Initiative

From the stakeholder engagement process, it became clear there is a need to focus on developing opportunities in specific geographic areas and places in the pipeline, and an aspiration to build lasting connections between leaders.

Because the opportunities to cultivate the leadership ecosystem are both individual and systemic, the Boettcher Foundation is uniquely positioned to champion this work.

We are launching the COLead Initiative, our strategic approach to further investing in the potential of Coloradans through strategies involving programming, investments, and communications. The goal of the COLead Initiative is to further develop leaders, connect people and organizations, and weave communities together.

Derived from the idea of working together as a group of actors who jointly take lead roles, COLead will showcase, inspire, celebrate, and connect the leaders across Colorado who make a difference in their communities.

The initiative will launch in 2021 with four components:

  • Fellowship: The Fellowship will identify, celebrate, elevate, and connect community champions from across Colorado. The program will elevate their voices and amplify their impact through a financial investment and structured opportunities to develop as individual leaders and members of Colorado’s leadership  ecosystem. We look forward to announcing our first cohort of Fellows in the fall.
  • Colorado Leadership Collaborative: The collaborative will create a space for stakeholders to come together to advance the leadership in their organizations, communities, and regions. The intent is to share knowledge, access resources, and amplify impact.
  • Colorado 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 leadership ecosystem – and we seek to understand them, hear from them, and celebrate them.
  • The Ecosystem Map: In order to best support leadership in Colorado, we must first understand the current leadership ecosystem and how it functions. To that end, we are developing a leadership ecosystem map that will identify and visually represent the individuals, organizations, communities, and/or institutions who are part of the leadership landscape in Colorado and the connections that exist between them.