BOULDER — As cleanup continues in the aftermath of the Boulder, Louisville and Superior fires last month, some of the more than 1,000 families who lost their homes are questioning where all the money donated to help them is really going.
The Community Foundation of Boulder County boasts more than $30 million from 66,000 donors worldwide has been given to help those impacted by the fire, but victims wonder why they are being limited to a maximum of $5,000 per home in assistance.
On the fund’s website, organizers say that less than 20 percent of the money ($5.5 million) has gone directly to affected families, and that just 27 percent has been distributed in total.
Just under $700,000 has gone to other non-profits pledging to help certain sectors of the community. It is unknown how those nonprofits (United Policyholders, Impact on Education, and the Boulder Jewish Family Services) spent the money given them.
According to the Boulder County website, there are several categories of help available from the foundation:
- If you were mandated to evacuate your home during the Marshall Fire, you may qualify for a $125 payment.
- If your home was damaged or destroyed and is on the assessment list of damaged and destroyed homes, you may qualify for a $2,500 payment for a household with one to two people or a $5,000 payment for a household with three or more people.
- If you are a renter or homeowner displaced due to smoke or ash contamination, you may qualify for a $2,500 payment for a household with one to two people or a $5,000 payment for a household with three or more people.
- If your livelihood was disrupted by the Marshall Fire (you were or are out of work and lost wages), you may qualify for a $1,200 payment (including home businesses).
- If you lost “tools of the trade” (business materials, supplies, equipment, or tools needed to do your job – excluding computers and computer equipment), you may qualify for a $500 payment.
- If you have a small local business that was damaged or destroyed by the Marshall Fire, you may qualify for a $2,500 payment (including home businesses).
- If your home is uninhabitable due to smoke, ash, or other hazardous conditions, you may qualify for a payment — amounts are still being determined. If you have already received a payment for a damaged or destroyed home, you are not eligible for this category.
The concern is where the rest of the money is going.
“I feel many of the larger nonprofits are just putting them in coffers,” said one victim through a Twitter feed on the Marshall Fire. “There’s nothing illegal about it, but … There were 1,000 homes affected, and the Community Foundation has raised $20 million or more that comes out to be $20K per home …”
The Red Cross also has a page dedicated to the Marshall Fire, yet victims are eligible — at most — for $500. It is unclear how much the Red Cross has raised to date from people donating specifically for the Marshall Fire victims.
Calls for comment from the foundation and the Red Cross have not been returned.
Others have called for media outlets who endorsed the Boulder Foundation Fund to investigate.
“Where did the $1.2 million dollars go that we all raised thru the Next with Kyle Clark Micro Giving Campaign?” Another victim Tweeted.
One Boulder County woman who lost her home in the fire, and who spoke with Complete Colorado on the promise of anonymity, said this is the feeling of most everyone she speaks with, adding that although she received the maximum amount of $5,000, it doesn’t amount to much, and she’d like to know where the rest of the money that people donated in the belief it would help the victims is being spent.
“That won’t even replace kitchen appliances,” she said. “They’ve raised probably well over $40 million or more by now. It’s a joke. No one knows what they are doing with the money.”
However, Complete Colorado looked at the most recent 990 filing by the Community Foundation of Boulder County and found that the organization this year has collected — just through fire donations — more than double what it raised in 2020 ($15 million). While the 2020 grants from the foundation ($11 million) cover many charitable organizations, they also include both Colorado-based and national groups known for extremist environmental and progressive political advocacy, such as New Era Colorado Foundation, Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, ProgressNow Colorado Foundation, The Bell Policy Center, Colorado Fiscal Institute, Colorado People’s Alliance, 350.org, Wild Earth Guardians, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, and Earthjustice, among others.
Only $7.5 million of the $30 million raised specifically for the fire has gone to victims.
The foundation’s website says it has established an advisory committee to best distribute the remainder of the funds. However, the last update to that announcement is more than a month old as of Feb. 17.
Complete Colorado will continue to follow the developments surrounding use of the money by the Community Foundation of Boulder County.
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