Our foundation

May 052011
Authors: Chadwick Bowman

Our friendly local billionaire was inspired by the Bohemian movement of early 1900s Paris.

A movement implemented in Fort Collins that paves a prosperous avenue for artists –– painters, writers, guitar players and photographers.

Philanthropist billionaire Pat Stryker founded the Bohemian Foundation in 2001. Bohemianism describes the lifestyle of a subculture of people dedicated to the arts, music and writing.

But Stryker does it while maintaining a low-profile with the media.All this says to me –– and according to people who know her –– that she is humble about the foundation, her money and her work. This is admirable.

I’ve spent the last semester occasionally writing about Old Town’s cultural vitality. I wanted to save my last Old Town column for the Bohemian Foundation because behind the scenes, it has backed many of the programs that allow me to partake in events like concerts and art shows.

I’ve been talking with people about town, like Fort Collins resident and CSU graduate Tim Maddocks whose independent arts and culture magazine was funded by a grant from the Bohemian Foundation. He may have put it best when he said, “This town would be a tasteless, odorless, cultureless wasteland (without Bohemian). They provide a vital pulse to a plethora of art, literature and music projects throughout town.”

But the foundation doesn’t contribute to only the arts. CSU students have benefited from the foundation through donations that helped fund Hughes Stadium renovations in 2003, as well as the University Center for the Arts –– holding true to its commitment to the arts. It helps fund the Center for a New Energy Economy, the young program headed by former Gov. Bill Ritter that supports renewable energy production.

“Pat’s generosity has funded facilities and programs that have fostered education, nurtured research and discovery, entertained us and made our spirits soar,” CSU President Tony Frank said of Stryker in an email to the Collegian.

It also supports programs that help alleviate homelessness and provide educational and mentoring programs for youth among a plethora of other causes.

“Fort Collins is one of the best places to live in the nation largely because of the work of our local community organizations and nonprofits,” City Manager Darin Atteberry said. “This important work would not be possible without the Bohemian Foundation’s strategic philanthropy.”

Just last month, music lovers in Fort Collins had the chance to see as much music as they could handle with the Fort Collins Music eXperiment –– an event put on by the Fort Collins Musicians Association with help from the Bohemian Foundation.

“They are a great partner that share our mission in putting Fort Collins on the national radar as a musical destination. They work extremely hard to bring awareness to the local music scene and are dedicated to fostering a relationship with the community and the music scene,” said Greta Cornett, the president of FoCoMA.

Bohemian creates opportunities for grant money through the Pharos Fund, which has allocated $9 million to Colorado nonprofits that in turn fund smaller projects and organizations.

For example, Art Lab, which opens up empty store fronts in Old Town for artists and musicians to use as they please, receives help from the foundation.

“For the Art Lab experience, Bohemian has been a godsend,” said Dawn Putney, founder of Art Lab. “They give artists and dreamers like us the support we need to try new ideas that enhance our creative and artistic community.”

For all of this and more, Stryker will be awarded on May 14 the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa from CSU –– an honor that she deserves.

I believe that Stryker is honestly passionate about the work she does. I am thankful that she cares so much to make Fort Collins her home and to make it a better place. She has given so much; not only to our community, but to betterment programs across the globe.

I believe Stryker does what she does because she wants to. Billionaires don’t have to be philanthropists. Billionaires can simply go off and be billionaires. I am proud to be a part of a community that fosters such unbelievable generosity.

Thank you, Ms. Stryker.

Editorial Editor Chadwick Bowman is a senior sociology and journalism major. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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