It’s easy for Coloradans to forget how lucky we are to live in this remarkable state. Colorado ranks in the top 10 in the country for higher education, job growth, and—believe it or not—infrastructure, according to 2017 data from U.S. News and World Report. When your home base is in good shape, it stands to reason you might look out into the wider world to help boost the quality of life for others. These five Centennial State organizations are doing just that by improving access to health care, education, and more around the globe. And if your own karma needs a boost, consider donating part of your upcoming tax return to one of these groups—you good Colorado Samaritan, you.
Global Livingston Institute
Impact Areas: Uganda & Rwanda
The nine-year-old Global Livingston Institute, a Denver- and London-based nonprofit research group, sends about 300 people annually to its education and health-care programs in East Africa. Volunteers help facilitate women’s leadership retreats in June, youth summits in July, and, in summer or fall, an HIV-awareness music festival. Last year’s festival included an appearance by touring Lumineers band member Stelth Ulvang and drew at least 44,000 attendees—more than 8,000 of whom received free HIV testing.
Children’s Global Alliance
Impact Areas: Cambodia, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Nepal, Morocco
Since 2010, this Vail organization has facilitated numerous education-based volunteer opportunities for local youths ages 12 to 17. To apply, students submit an essay and a fundraising proposal describing how they will finance their trip to one of the group’s five service project locales. Over the past eight years, 350 students have helped roughly 10,000 children and families by teaching English, repairing schools, and more.
Impact Areas: Guatemala
Founded in 2007, Denver-based Starfish promotes gender equality and girls’ education in rural Guatemala. The group’s initiatives include a mentorship program, in which middle schoolers learn life skills like how to manage a bank account, as well as the recently established Starfish Impact School, which prepares seventh- to 12th-graders for Guatemala’s public university system.
Colorado African Organization
Impact Areas: Burma, Bhutan, the Great Lakes region of Africa
The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce named CAO its small nonprofit of the year in 2016. No surprise: The group helped more than 3,300 people from 50 countries integrate into Colorado communities that year (mostly in Denver, Aurora, and Lakewood). In addition to ESL classes, the organization also offers legal assistance for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers—a tricky job considering America’s ever-evolving immigration policies.
Impact Areas: Chile and more than 160 other countries
Global Greengrants has been cultivating awareness about climate change and environmental injustice for the past 25 years. The Boulder group provides about 900 grants (typically between $500 and $5,000) every year to grass-roots environmental causes in more than 160 countries. Example: This past May, Global Greengrants awarded a $5,300 grant to a Chilean organization to create a documentary about the threats caused by mining in the dunes and wetlands of Chile’s Putú region. The end result? In October, the region was officially protected as a nature sanctuary.