Blog: Amplify

Paradox Community Trust Story

This post is part of the #CF100 Series of blog posts. The Council on Foundations is marking the 100th anniversary of the nation’s first community foundation, The Cleveland Foundation, by highlighting the roles of community foundations with this series.

See where it all began at our
Fall Conference for Community Foundations in Cleveland this October!

The evolving Paradox Community Trust represents an innovative strategy to energize community philanthropy in underserved rural communities in southwestern Colorado. Check out the Trust’s website for more details. Championing the Trust and this initiative is the Telluride Foundation ( CEO and President Paul Major and Program Director April Montgomery are active in the process of visualizing and creating the Trust.

Telluride, Colorado is an American success story and one of those communities that re-invented itself from its historical mining origins to snow skiing mecca and destination tourism spot. Telluride is successful, and the Telluride Foundation is a central player in the life and promise of Telluride. The Foundation provides donors (both local and seasonal residents) a way to give back to their home or adopted community. But outside of Telluride, the smaller rural communities are not doing as well. They are part of what is called the Paradox Region, referring to the geological formation underlying this area and the source of its history of resource extraction and boom and bust economies.

The Paradox Community Trust is a unique approach to engaging smaller rural communities like Dove Creek, Rico, the West End (a collection of communities) and Wright’s Mesa in community endowment building. Transfer of wealth research documents indicate that there is resident wealth and potential for community endowment building. In addition, there is a leverage opportunity through the Trust to capture energy and mineral wealth being developed and produced from public lands in the Paradox Basin. “Our communities in southwest Colorado have abundant resources, and include some of the most generous people in the nation, so imagine if only five percent of this wealth were invested back into local communities and charitable organizations and held in permanent endowments for local communities,” said Paul Major, President of the Telluride Foundation, “Such investment would provide long-term community development resources for local communities to shape their own future and stable funding to support the quality of life that makes our corner of Colorado so unique and special.”

The Telluride Foundation is partnering with USDA Rural Development leveraging funding from the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) Program to seed outreach and engagement work with these rural communities. There has been encouraging progress to date, with each of the four communities beginning to raise funds for their endowments; there is also a deep commitment by the Telluride Foundation to continue this work beyond completion of the USDA Rural Development funding next year. As part of this project the Telluride Foundation is partnering with Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, enabling the transfer of wealth research and access to the Center’s Community Engagement resources. For more information contact Paul Major at

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