Peyton Manning, John Elway, the Denver Broncos and Colorado Rockies are part of multi-million-dollar COVID relief in Colorado

More than 120 individuals and organizations – from Peyton and Ashley Manning and John Elway to Anheuser Busch and the Buell Foundation – have contributed nearly $16.5 million to Colorado’s COVID Relief Fund to help community organizations impacted by the pandemic.

The fund has already given more than $8.4 million in grants of up to $25,000 to about 370 groups across the state, according to fund documents publicly available for review.

“In this economic environment, community organizations are dealing with a drop in donations at the same time that more Coloradans need services and assistance, putting immense strain on their ability to meet the needs of the community,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement.

Leading the pile of contributors of at least $10,000 is the Colorado Health Foundation with a $3.2 million gift, followed by $1 million gifts from Pinnacol Assurance, the state’s largest workers compensation insurer, and The Colorado Trust, a grant-making foundation that works to improve the health of Coloradans. The large-dollar contributors account for more than $13.4 million of the fund’s contributions.

But groups such as the Denver Broncos ($500,000), the Colorado Rockies Foundation ($200,000), and the Anschutz Foundation ($100,000) also made demonstrable contributions.

“We felt a sense of responsibility to use our platform to make a meaningful contribution,” said Allie Engelken, executive director of community development for the Broncos. “It’s the right thing to do at this time and we’re fortunate to have the resources and leadership to help do that.”

Elway contributed $50,000, noting his son-in-law is a California doctor battling the pandemic on the front lines. The Mannings are one of only two donors who requested their contribution be anonymous in its value.

Other notable donors include money manager Tom Marsico ($100,000), businessman Pat Broe ($50,000), and developer Richard Sapkin ($10,000).

“We are inspired by the generosity of those who have donated and are thrilled that organizations across the state are able to help more people in their communities during this difficult time,” Polis said in the statement.

The fund was launched in early March just as the state began battening down the hatches as the pandemic spread. Called Help Colorado Now, its purpose is to coordinate the collection of donations and the distribution of the dollars following a vetting process of committees made up of business and nonprofit executives.

The fund is to help groups that fit into one of three categories tied to the pandemic: prevention, impact, and recovery. A committee for each category reviews applications – there have been more than 780 of them – and makes recommendations to an allocation committee co-chaired by Sapkin and Roxane White, former chief of staff under then-Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Grantees are a mixed bag of small businesses and organizations across the state, from food pantries and daycare providers to financial assistance groups and first responders such as rural fire departments.

In Wray, a small town in northeast Colorado not far from the Kansas state line, Merrie Flores ran a small daycare for up to nine children in her home, state records show. Then the pandemic hit and the flow of customers simply stopped. The COVID-relief fund was able to offer some aid, even if just a little bit. Anything to help.

“I got $3,200,” Flores told The Post in an email, one of the smallest grants the fund made. “I paid bills and took care of my kids.”

A third wave of relief funding is expected to be announced over the next few weeks.


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