DENVER — Nonprofits across Denver could get a boost in funding from a city grant program aiming to help mitigate fundraising shortfalls brought on by the pandemic.
Denver Economic Development and Opportunity extended the pandemic grant program and allocated $485,000 to the Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund. Last year, the program injected $3 million into more than 300 organizations that applied for a grant. The program launched during the pandemic is funded by the Cares Act. Organizations can apply for a maximum of $15,000.
“You have a lot of nonprofit organizations who last year were attempting to fundraise to support their operations and services this year, and we are seeing shortfalls,” said Seneca Holmes, the director of Neighborhood Equity and Stabilization.
The Table Urban Farm, a nonprofit, applied for the funding last year and qualified. The organization felt a growing demand for its services since the pandemic and struggled to fundraise.
Jeanine Kopaska Broek and her husband are the co-directors of the organization. Broek said seniors fearful of going to the grocery store stood in long lines for the veggie bike. The veggie bike is a bicycle that transports a cart filled with a variety of free vegetables to food deserts and neighborhoods throughout the city.
“We felt this profound sense of responsibility to grow as much food as we possibly could and we worked tirelessly,” Broek said.
The organization manages 15 gardens on donated property. Volunteers plant and harvest 30 different vegetables. Broek picked tomatoes from the garden located outside of Hope Fellowship Christian Reform Church, off Ash Street. So far this year, they’ve harvested 360 pounds of vegetables and fruit from just one location.
“We grow about 6,000 pounds of food each season, which is a total of 35,000 pounds in the 10 years that we have been doing this in Denver,” Broek said.
The funding from last year helped expand the organization's food access outreach and increase education.
“People will come up to the veggie bike and look around and they say 'I don’t cook.' We get to help them learn. You don’t have to cook a cucumber, you can eat it fresh,” Broek said.
Broek plans to apply for the Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund again this year.
The last day to apply for the grant is Sept. 30. Technical assistance for the application process is also being provided by the city.
To Broek, it’s more than just farming. Their work is making an impact on the environment.
“We know that gardens are part of how we can deal with climate change and the climate crisis,” Broek said.