This week, two of Colorado’s most-influential philanthropic organizations celebrate 75 years of giving. El Pomar Foundation and the Boettcher Foundation were created one week apart in December 1937. Since then, their contributions to our culture, education, and community infrastructure have helped build the Colorado we know and love.
Both Boettcher and El Pomar have made significant strides in making Colorado a better place. They support the organizations that give this great state its heart. What’s more, they continue to inspire philanthropy along with a spirit of growth and opportunity.
This spirit may have been born of the entrepreneurial success and innovation that distinguished the founders of these great institutions. Each is steeped in Colorado history. El Pomar was started by Spencer Penrose and his wife Julie. Spencer Penrose came West in the late 1880s and made a fortune in gold and copper mining, establishing himself as one of Colorado's most prominent businessmen and entrepreneurs. Spencer married Julie Villiers McMillan in 1906 and together the couple made their mark in Colorado through landmarks, including the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Central City Opera, Pikes Peak Highway, and Fountain Valley School.
Also connected to Colorado’s mining history, the Boettcher Foundation bears its name from two of Colorado’s pioneering businessmen, Claude and Charles Boettcher. Charles Boettcher came to America from Germany, setting up stores in Wyoming and Colorado that provided much needed hardware to miners. With a pioneering spirit and an entrepreneurial drive, Charles became a leading businessman in Colorado, establishing The Great Western Sugar Company, Ideal Cement, and The Denver Tramway Company, before passing the business off to his son, Claude.
While the history behind these famous Colorado families is truly remarkable, it is their legacy of giving back that continues to make a difference every day. Both the Boettcher Foundation and El Pomar Foundation have invested in Colorado’s future so that we continue to progress and improve.