Bohemian Foundation helps promote community strength 2003 Bravo! Entrepreneur — Regional Spirit

FORT COLLINS — The Bohemian Foundation, founded by Pat Stryker, carries forward a multi-generational spirit of service.

Stryker’s grandfather, Homer Stryker, an orthopedic surgeon, used his creativity and imagination to invent products designed to make surgery and recovery simpler, faster and more effective. Her mother’s parents served as educational missionaries in China. Thus, the Bohemian Foundation, honoring the creative spirit of the Bohemian movement in Paris, stands as a natural extension of the Stryker family history.

The Bohemian Foundation has three goals: to encourage and enable youth to become productive members of society; to encourage organizations to work together; and to be a catalyst for public awareness. To that end, the Foundation has established the Pharos Fund, which responds to requests for grants from nonprofit organizations. Named after the Great Lighthouse of Alexandria on the island of Pharos, the fund represents a guidepost to safe passage that stands firm and strong.

While the Bohemian Foundation’s $20.1 million gift to Colorado State University in May for athletics and arts has received much attention from the community, the following sample of grants awarded since April 2002 represents the broader scope of the Bohemian Foundation’s mission.

First grant was small

The Foundation’s first grant — for $1,400 — was presented to 14-year-old Jessica Hellyer and the Kids Matter program. At a lemonade stand, Stryker’s daughter and her friend Kaylee had raised money to make “comfort bags” for children in the care of shelters. The Pharos Fund matched their $140 donation at 10 to one.

The Bohemian Foundation also contributed $100,000 to create the Child Care Assistance Fund through the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado. The fund benefits single mothers pursuing a college education by providing funds for childcare while they attend classes.

“We could not be more pleased to help the Bohemian Foundation fulfill their charitable purpose,´ said Becky Cramer, grants coordinator for the Community Foundation. “We are able to support childcare through assistance awards for single mothers who stay in good academic standing.”

By creating this fund, the Bohemian Foundation hopes to encourage additional donations, allowing women who pursue an education the opportunity to fulfill their dreams of self-sufficiency.

In May 2003, the Foundation awarded $250,000 to the Youth Activity Center toward their capital campaign to raise funds for their new gymnasium project. The award underscored community support and positioned the Center to apply for other grants requiring a high level of local commitment.

“When we moved to our new location, we lost our gym,´ said Korrie Johnson with Fort Collins Parks and Recreation. “That meant we lost a place where kids could drop in after school and shoot hoops. The grant from the Bohemian Foundation put us over the hump in our fundraising. We’re so close.”

The Youth Activity Center now has $600,000 of the $750,000 needed for the project.

Also in May 2003, the Research and Development Center for the Advancement of Student Learning, a collaborative project of Colorado State University and Poudre School District, received a grant for $16,500.

“The funds will support the research and analysis needed to address the following research question,´ said Brian Cobb, co-director of the R&D Center. “How does attending a dual-language immersion elementary school affect junior high mathematics achievement? We also want to investigate how those effects might differ if the language spoken at home is English or Spanish.”

This research falls within the Harris Bilingual School Longitudinal Study of Student Performance, which researches and evaluates innovative programs and advances educational theory and practices.

Helped launch radio station

In September 2003, the Foundation awarded a $25,000 grant to KRFC Community Public Radio. The radio station, located at 88.9 FM, is a non-profit community radio station that supports community building and cultural enrichment.

“We’re a fledgling public radio station,´ said Deborah Howard, station manager for KRFC. “The Bohemian Foundation grant gave us the operational dollars to get us off the ground. Since the money has no strings attached, we are free to develop our local programming. We’re bringing in more people all the time.”

KRFC gives voice to youth (“Minor Talk”), minorities (Latino and Native American programming) and others typically lacking media access. These programs and others (including “Poudre River Currents,” which addresses local issues) fulfill the Foundation’s goal of serving as a catalyst for public awareness.

Some might wonder if Northern Colorado really needs a lighthouse or an infusion of Bohemian spirit. The single mother who wants to go to college, the teenager without a place to shoot hoops after school, the educator who wants to answer big questions, the Latina without a public voice and the homeless kid without a toy are all absolutely sure that Bohemians and a certain lighthouse are nothing less than modern wonders in their worlds.