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A Lesson in Leveraging My VC Network for Good | COVID-19 in Vail, Colorado

As a VC, I have the opportunity to build relationships with people who have tremendous financial resources and connections. I often hesitate to ask my network to support philanthropic causes, because I want to respect our business relationship. After seeing the devastating impact of COVID-19 on our community in Vail, Colorado, however, I decided it was time to ask.

I invited four Vail nonprofits to present to my network. I’m sharing the recording of the event in hopes that it will inspire others to leverage their connections for good. I organized this event prior to George Floyd’s death, but I think this idea can easily be translated to support efforts to achieve racial equality. I am thinking about how I might implement that myself and welcome any of your ideas or opportunities for collaboration.

The presenting organizations are below.

Eagle Valley Community Foundation (link to donate)
Eagle Valley Behavioral Health (link to donate)
The Vail Valley Foundation COVID-19 Community Response Fund (link to donate)
Walking Mountains (link to donate)

I learned far more than I expected from this presentation. Here are just five of my takeaways:

  1. Vail Valley unemployment has surged from 2% in January to over 30%.
  2. Unemployment checks will be reduced by $600 on June 26.
  3. Eagle County has seen more suicides in the past seven weeks than COVID-19 deaths.
  4. Feeding America has estimated that 8,000 of our 50,000 local residents were food insecure prior to COVID-19 and the explosion in unemployment. Based on experience at the food bank, the Eagle Valley Community Foundation believes the number of food insecure is now over 15,000 of our 50,000 neighbors.  
  5. The Eagle Valley Community Foundation food banks and pantries served over 4,000 people last week. This is almost a 300% increase over demand for food before the pandemic, and the number seeking assistance is increasing each week. The food served is also now often the primary source of family meals, rather than a supplemental source of meals. 

Despite these dire statistics, I also heard many signs of hope in the presentation. You can hear more in the podcast episode. 

Thanks for listening.

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