James Benton Grant was a mining engineer who became Colorado’s third Governor in 1883. Since then, four generations of Grants have grown up playing and working on land the family has owned throughout the years. Along the way, they’ve left a mark on Colorado’s history and landscape.
In 2001, Gertie Grant and Susan Grant Raymond, cousins and Benton’s grandnieces, were inspired to protect and preserve open space in Colorado. They called on their family to join them. Together, they started what has become a significant endowment fund for Colorado Open Lands (COL), a nonprofit committed to the preservation of our state’s space and heritage.
Since then, over 13,000 acres in Colorado have been conserved through investments made by the Grant family, and many more through their general support of the organization. “The Grant family’s multi-generational and collaborative approach has been an inspiration to other families who are looking at philanthropy as an activity and ethic to be shared between generations,” says Tony Caligiuri, President, and CEO of Colorado Open Lands.
HOW DID THE FAMILY SELECT COLORADO OPEN LANDS?
The family members agreed it was important that any organization they supported be based in Colorado. They learned about Conservation Colorado Trust, then a new organization with a mission that aligned with the family's goals. In 2013, the Trust merged with COL.
WHY THE ISSUE OF OPEN SPACE?
About a third of the Grant family still lives in Colorado. Seeing the changes in rapid population growth firsthand gave family members a sense of urgency about conserving the land for future generations. Educating people, especially in urban areas, about land conservation is a high priority for the family.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE IMPACT OF PHILANTHROPY ON THE GRANT FAMILY?
Philanthropy has had a unifying impact. A small committee of family members manages the fund for COL, including some British relatives who have fond memories of time spent on Grant family land near Estes Park. “Working with land conservation has had a unifying effect on our large and diversely-thinking clan,” says Mariah Raymond, who chairs the committee. “A deep love and appreciation of the land is a common thread that runs through our family.”
WHAT DOES PHILANTHROPY MEAN TO THE GRANT FAMILY?
“It is important to give both time and money to issues we care about,” says Mariah, who is participating Colorado Open Lands’ Conservation Leadership Series, a year-long program aimed at engaging rising leaders in issues that impact Colorado’s most valuable landscapes. Philanthropy is now a part of the Grant family reunions, as the family believes it’s essential to continue to teach the younger generations about the importance of giving back.
WHAT’S SOMETHING THE GRANTS ARE PARTICULARLY PROUD OF?
The family recently supported the launch of Conserved Colorado, an online directory where consumers can search for products and services from conserved Colorado lands and then contact property owners to purchase them. And, as Gertie says, “It has been very valuable to see all the different ways there are of preserving and promoting open space.”
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