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In 1925, leaders in the Denver banking community came together to create an endowment fund to meet the changing needs of the community. These forward-thinkers decided to pool estate gifts that had been left to their institutions for a variety of charitable purposes. They were following the lead of other communities in the country, led by Cleveland in 1914, who were creating a new type of organization called a community foundation.

On November 30, 1925, they signed a Resolution and Declaration of Trust creating The Denver Foundation. The next step was to create a "Distribution Committee" to direct the grants of the Foundation. The first Distribution Committee featured a distinguished roster of community-minded citizens: J.K. Mullen, Emily Griffith, J.F. Welborn, F.W. Standart and Judge Ira C. Rothgerber. Mr. Mullen made the first gift to the Foundation, $1,000 in 1927. The Committee made its first grant that same year, $500 to the Community Chest, the predecessor of Mile High United Way.

At the heart of The Denver Foundation are dozens of permanent endowment funds that provide the income to fuel its grantmaking. Alice Coleman created the first such endowment fund in 1929, with a gift of $3,402. Called the Adult Blind Home and Association Fund, this fund was created to support an organization that no longer exists. However, one of the strengths of a community foundation is that a donor's wishes can be honored even after an organization ends its service. Therefore, gifts from this fund continue to benefit agencies serving the blind.

Lawrence C. Phipps ran The Denver Foundation as a volunteer from 1936 to 1973. The first paid executive director, Patti Jeanne Harrington, was hired in 1973. Throughout the years, community leaders from a wide range of professions have volunteered their time and expertise to lead the Foundation. Dedicated staff members such as Patti Jeanne Harrington, Bob Lee and Jonni Fischer have helped the Foundation's impact in the community grow dramatically.

In 1996, David Miller became Executive Director of The Denver Foundation. In 2001, his title changed to President & CEO. The Denver Foundation's 85 years of impact is the result of hard working volunteers, generous donors, visionary grantees and community partners, and a dedicated staff.