Our History

Temple Hoyne Buell was a civic and business leader in Colorado throughout his life. The Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation was established in 1962 in order to support his charitable interests, which included the education of architects, research into catastrophic illnesses, and programs throughout Colorado to prepare young people to live healthy lives and contribute responsibly to the community. Contributions were often in the form of capital projects, including the Temple Hoyne Buell Heart Center at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, the Temple Hoyne Buell Hall at the University of Illinois, the Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia University, and the Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre in Denver.

Smiling Baby Colors ChangedIn 1996, the Foundation began strategic support of programs and initiatives for children. The Foundation emphasized the areas of early intervention, prevention, and improving the social and educational systems critical to the well-being of Colorado’s youngest citizens. The funding guidelines included not only programming specifically targeted at very young children and families, but also programming designed to decrease an alarming teen pregnancy rate. At that same time, the Foundation created the mission statement that it uses to this day. The Buell Foundation is a professional philanthropic organization supporting the positive development of children through grants and partnerships with other sectors of our community. The Foundation focuses primarily on the state of Colorado and concentrates its grantmaking on programs that benefit children.

Since 1996, the Foundation’s funding priorities have changed several times – always in an effort to further narrow scope and encourage higher levels of impact. The Trustees made a commitment in 1999 to target funding to organizations outside of the Denver area, specifically to organizations in rural and isolated areas with few resources. And in 2012, the Trustees of the Foundation recommitted themselves to funding early childhood education and further strengthened their commitment to quality. In response, the Buell Continuous Quality Improvement Strategy was launched in 2013. Through this strategy, all grantees are measured against best practices for their respective types of service. Grantees are then asked to set an annual quality improvement goal related to these best practices and show growth.

Today, the Foundation grants approximately $12 million per year to Colorado nonprofits. Since 1996, the Foundation has given more than $130 million to support quality early childhood and teen pregnancy prevention programming throughout the state.

Throughout its history, the Buell Foundation has been a part of many unique projects and partnerships. Following are some of highlights of notable projects:

QualistarIn 1997, the Foundation made its first grant to Qualistar Colorado to plan the state’s quality rating and improvement system. This new system would allow child care centers and preschools to achieve ratings indicating a level of quality. Those levels would be used by the parents in making decisions about where their child should receive care. Over the years since that grant, the Qualistar system has become a national model, and Qualistar Colorado has taken on additional functions. The Foundation has contributed more than $4.5 million to the organization to support quality early childhood education across the state.

In response to a need for effective leaders in the early childhood sector, the Buell Foundation created the Buell Early Childhood Leadership Program in 2007. This program was created with a vision of improving the early childhood care and education system in Colorado by identifying, nurturing, and building leadership capacity in existing and future early childhood leaders.

In 2010, six organizations came together to convene Colorado EPIC (Executives Partnering to Invest in Children). The Buell Foundation’s longtime Board President, Dan Ritchie, was instrumental in convening this group. This new organization was envisioned as a coalition of business leaders who believe early childhood investment is a top public and private priority. Since inception, Susan Steele, the Buell Foundation’s Executive Director, has participated on the Executive Committee of the EPIC Governing Board. She helped to shepherd the organization through its growth, even hosting the organization for several months in the Foundation’s office. Since 2010, EPIC has grown to include more than 50 business leaders, including those in a Pueblo affiliate group. The organization has played a significant role in the early childhood system in Colorado.  One of their landmark successes was the full reinstatement of the Colorado Child Care Contribution Tax Credit in 2015.

MilestonesIn partnership with five other foundations, the Buell Foundation helped to create Early Milestones Colorado in 2014. The vision for this organization began in the early 1990s through a statewide effort to design a governance plan for the state that would increase coordination and efficiencies and generate better results for children. The resulting “three-legged stool” state plan included the consolidation of programs and funding streams into an early childhood office, the expansion of local early childhood councils, and the creation of a non-partisan nonprofit that could help accelerate change. Early Milestones Colorado completes the third “leg” of the plan. Still in its infancy, there is great promise in this new organization to further align efforts and propel action throughout the state.

1962 Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation created
1985 Rotary International endowment gift of $150,000 creates the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation Scholarship for architectural students studying abroad

$700,000 awarded to the University of Southern Colorado to create the Buell Communication Center

1987 $600,000 awarded to Columbia University for The Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture
1988 $6 million awarded to University of Illinois for the Temple Hoyne Buell Hall at the School of Architecture

$500,000 creates an endowed chair at the Kidney Center at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center

$500,000 awarded to the University of Colorado at Denver College of Architecture & Planning

1990 Temple Hoyne Buell passes away at the age of 94
1991 $3 million awarded to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts for the Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre
1992 $2.5 million creates an endowed chair at the Heart Center at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
1995 Dan Ritchie elected as Board President
1996 $1 million awarded to the Sangre de Cristo Arts & Conference Center for the Buell Children’s Museum

Mission statement created and primary funding areas identified

1997 $75,000 awarded to Qualistar Colorado to create a business plan
1998 Susan Steele promoted to Executive Director
1999 Board of Trustees votes to focus funding on early childhood and areas outside of metropolitan Denver
2000-2005 Multiple changes to funding guidelines lead to more focused investments in the areas of early childhood (specifically programming for children younger than five) and teen pregnancy prevention
2007 Creation of the Buell Early Childhood Leadership Program

Colorado expands Early Childhood Councils to include 31 independent councils serving 98% of the young child population in the state

2008 The Early Childhood Colorado Framework is released, representing the work of hundreds of stakeholders coming together to codify a multi-domain system of early childhood for the state
2010 The Colorado Early Childhood Leadership Commission is created

The Buell Foundation is one of six convening organizations of Colorado EPIC

2011 The Buell Foundation is recognized as Outstanding Foundation in Colorado

$500,000 granted to History Colorado to support the new museum

2012 The Colorado Office of Early Childhood is created within the Department of Human Services
2014 The District-Based School Transitions Initiative is launched to support school districts as they work to increase the success of children entering kindergarten from various early learning programs

Early Milestones Colorado is created in partnership with five other foundation partners

2015 Susan Steele is recognized as the Outstanding Professional Grantmaker in Colorado.

The Early Childhood Colorado Framework is updated to illustrate the system as it relates to the whole child and family