Valley Settlement is honored to announce the receipt of a transformational donation of $2 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. This unrestricted donation will support Valley Settlement’s community-driven strategic priorities to expand its programming in western Garfield County and strengthen its impact through current programs as part of the organization’s new five-year strategic plan.

Founded in 2011, Valley Settlement was created to understand and respond to the diverse needs and aspirations of local Latina/o immigrant families, working collaboratively with families and individuals to drive community change. Valley Settlement now works alongside more than 500 households each year through programs focused on early childhood and adult education, leadership development, and maternal mental health.

“We are incredibly grateful to MacKenzie Scott for investing in Valley Settlement’s vision of a more equitable, just, and inclusive future,” said Jamie Montgomery Helzberg, chair of Valley Settlement’s board of directors. “This generous gift will ensure Valley Settlement’s programming continues to be created by – not just for – members of the community.”

The organization’s strategic plan was created through an inclusive process that began with a community-wide listening tour in 2021, when Valley Settlement staff interviewed over 300 community members to understand their experiences and identify new areas of opportunity. The responses highlighted that the economic and geographic landscapes of the region put pressure on individuals and families that directly impact their quality of life. Each day, families in the region are faced with making difficult decisions and sacrifices in order to meet basic needs.

“We are an organization that will always listen first, and through the listening tour we learned that there are opportunities to engage more deeply with families in western Garfield County,” said Kenia Pinela, Director of Programs and Innovation at Valley Settlement. “We also heard that there is room for growth within our current programming to work with more members of the whole family, and continue innovating and strengthening our work in the community.”

The strategic plan builds on the strengths of existing programs and includes goals of increasing the number of program participants by 50 percent; making programs more accessible to members of the whole family including teens, dads, and grandparents; and expanding programming to new communities in the region. As Valley Settlement continues to evolve programming to respond to the changing needs of Latina/o families in the region, continued engagement and partnership with community members is more essential than ever.

“Our programming is informed by the lived experiences of participants, responsive to individual needs, and supported by a generous community who believes we are all stronger when we bring our collective resources and energy together to achieve shared goals,” said Maria Tarajano Rodman, Valley Settlement Executive Director. “This gift is a celebration of the commitment of thousands of people who built Valley Settlement into what it is today – community members, donors, volunteers, staff, and leaders at every level who recognize that individuals who have experiences with inequities are the ones best equipped to create solutions.”

“Having participated in Valley Settlement for the last nine years, I have seen the wonders, the strength, and the connections we as a community can build throughout these programs,” said Tina Alvarez, program participant and Valley Settlement board member. “I am excited that soon our families from…New Castle, Silt, Rifle and Parachute will enjoy all the benefits Valley Settlement offers. We live in a wonderful community, where people live, work and play. We should all enjoy these programs.”

In addition to supporting the organization’s ambitious goals for growth, the gift will also support current program operations in the Roaring Fork Valley. The organization employs a team of experienced and passionate teachers, educators, and administrators, many of whom are former program participants and have shared experiences with children and families in programs.

“Generosity comes in many forms and we hope that this donation inspires others who share our values to join us in creating an equitable and inclusive community that nurtures cultural connection and a sense of belonging so all can reach their full potential,” said Montgomery Helzberg.