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Working Together: Helping state employees through tough times

December 13, 2013

The Working Together Foundation provides financial grants of up to $240 to help state employees and retirees cope with emergency needs during times of crisis.

Colorado State University is in the middle of its annual Colorado Combined Campaign drive – the one opportunity faculty and staff members have each year to support community charities through payroll deduction. One of the programs CSU employees can support in this year’s campaign is a fund that was created specifically to help state employees who are facing tough times: The Working Together Foundation.

The Working Together Foundation (Colorado Combined Campaign agency #1300) provides financial grants of up to $240 to help state employees and retirees cope with emergency needs during times of crisis. The organization’s simple motto conveys its clear and direct mission: “State employees helping state employees.”

Unexpected crises

Like everyone else, state employees often have to confront unexpected crises and tragedies. “As the crisis escalates, the financial difficulties deepen, and eviction notices are issued or utilities cut off,” the Working Together 2011 annual report notes. “State employees are not eligible for all forms of public assistance. An employee may feel isolated during those trying times. It is difficult for an employee to concentrate on the job and put forth the most productive effort when he or she is worried about where the next meal will come from.”

The foundation provides state employees with directed aid for expenses that are critically important for their life and well-being – and payments are made directly to the medical provider, utility company, bank or organization that needs to be paid (rather than to the employee requesting the grant).

The foundation incorporated in 1993 and awarded its first grant that same year. Since then, the foundation has awarded more than $563,000 in emergency assistance to more than 1,600 state employees and retirees. The fund is managed by a board of 16 volunteers from a wide array of state agencies and higher education.

“We get most of our money from the Colorado Combined Campaign and only bring in about $18,000 a year, which limits the amount of grants we can provide,” said Working Together Board President Tom Montoya, manager of the Workforce Development Section for the state’s Health Care Policy and Financing Division. “We used to be able to offer grants up to $500, but now we can only go up to $240 because we just don’t have the resources.

The board has no paid administrative staff and so is able to keep its administrative costs extremely low (around 2 percent). In fact, the Foundation’s only expense is an annual audit. The Working Together mailing address has been donated by a Denver area church so the Foundation doesn’t have to pay for a P.O. box – and the organization’s financial management is donated by the Credit Union of Colorado.

Donations from CCC

The foundation relies on donations through the Colorado Combined Campaign.

“The Foundation is currently funded almost exclusively through the Colorado Combined Campaign,” the report noted. “Unfortunately, when economic times worsen, charitable donations decrease, and it has become harder for the Foundation to be an effective safety net.”

To build greater awareness, the foundation is focusing on expanded fundraising and building a stronger network of contacts statewide who can help make more people aware of the fund and all it has to offer.

CSU employees have applied to the fund for assistance with emergencies including medical and funeral expenses, and the foundation has provided much-needed assistance. The most common reason employees statewide request help is for medical emergencies, followed by loss or reduction of income (furloughs or spousal unemployment), utility shut-off, potential eviction or foreclosure, or victims of crime.

To learn more about Working Together, visit the website

You can make a donation to help fellow state employees through the Colorado Combined Campaign at the CCC website -- Working Together is agency #1300.

If you want to make a gift directly to Colorado State University, visit the Advancement website.

Contact: Nik Olsen
Phone: 491-5507