Nonprofits create jobs, boost the economy

Little Bear Preschool in Nederland closed its doors for good in 2019, after 29 years. The closure left families in the remote mountain town with only two preschool options — one of which had no summer hours nor extended care during the school year.

The board of TEENS, Inc., realized it had the capacity and vision to fill the gap. Over the summer, the nonprofit organization struck a deal to help Aspen Grove Community Preschool expand under a new name: The New Explorers Learning Center.

The move aligned with the mission of TEENS, Inc., “To support, educate and empower youth and their families to make healthy choices and thrive.”

“We’re able to provide a meaningful opportunity for people to work right in their own community,” said Stephen LeFaivre, Executive Director of TEENS, Inc.

It’s a shining example of how our nonprofit sector impacts our local economy. A first-ever Colorado Nonprofit Economic Impact Study shows the many ways nonprofits do this.

“We are actually a force — an economic force,” said Joanne Kelly, CEO of the Colorado Association of Funders. Her organization partnered with five other statewide organizations to produce the report.

The report found that more than 13,000 Boulder County residents work for nonprofits — accounting for 1 in 20 jobs. It also found that our county’s nonprofits spend more than $1.3 billion annually, which amounts to more than 5% of all spending.

The vast majority of Boulder County nonprofits provide important services with annual budgets of less than $500,000. For every $1 million spent, nonprofits create 10 jobs, compared to 7 jobs created by the private sector, the report found.

What TEENS, Inc. is doing in Nederland to preserve and create jobs and help families keep their own jobs is a great example of what nonprofits do across the state, Kelly said. The new report is helping the nonprofit industry prove its economic value to lawmakers.

“In the 10 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve definitely noticed that people don’t think of the nonprofit sector as a jobs creator. They think of the good work we’re doing,” Kelly said. “I think it really resonates to have economic data that’s so similar to the way other sectors report their impact.”

by Chris Barge