A Letter from Our Leadership

February 2023

As we look back on 2022 and continue ushering in 2023, themes of transition and growth are part of the landscape both internally at the Buell Foundation and externally through numerous early childhood stakeholders with whom we partner.  In FY 2022, the Buell Foundation awarded $19.5 million in grants to 410 Colorado nonprofit partners, awarding more than 63% of grants outside of the metro Denver area or to statewide partners.

2023 begins a new chapter at the Buell Foundation as we welcome a new CEO, Steve ErkenBrack.  He has a diverse and extensive 40-year career in law, healthcare, and government; his detailed biography can be found here.  As CEO, Mr. ErkenBrack will maximize his strengths in the areas of executive leadership, advocacy, and government relations.  We look forward to introducing Steve to partners across the state in 2023 as he and the staff engage in a listening tour to meet with grantees and community leaders; to learn more about local needs, opportunities, and resources; and to discuss the Foundation’s grantmaking, goals, and early childhood initiatives.

With his distinctive combination of skills and experiences, Steve will lead Buell Foundation efforts to support improvements to the early childhood system in Colorado.  This is an exciting time for early childhood development and education that provides many opportunities to strengthen the partnerships that we have throughout the state.  The COVID-19 pandemic brought awareness of the essential role that early childhood programs play to the public narrative.  This, along with the creation of a new Colorado Department of Early Childhood, as well as the launch of the Universal Preschool Program, demand that we push forward for stronger systems, higher quality standards, and equitable access to services for all families.  One specific strategy of the Buell Foundation over the next several years will be a focus on addressing issues related to the early childhood workforce crisis.  Under this strategy, the Foundation will consider multiple approaches, including advocacy, grantmaking, and coalition-building.

While this period of transition may prompt changes, the commitment of the Buell Foundation to funding early childhood programs and initiatives will not change.  We believe that it is in the earliest years of a child’s development that our investments have the greatest impact.  We also believe that creating the best outcomes for children and families cannot be done in isolation.  Our work would not be possible without the efforts of numerous stakeholders across Colorado, including nonprofit, government, and other early childhood advocates.  We appreciate all that they do each day.  We look forward to working with each of these partners as we move into the next year.

Dr. Reginald L. Washington
Board Chair