El Pomar Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in the city of Colorado Springs, although its influence extends throughout the state. It was founded in 1937 by the Philadelphian entrepreneur Spencer Penrose and his wife, Julie. The Foundation works to promote and assist other nonprofit organizations and charities by awarding grants to deserving recipients. In addition to its financial support, the Foundation is also devoted to recognizing and honing the skills of the future leaders of Colorado, as well as introducing these leaders to the nonprofit sector, which often goes underrepresented. In accordance with this mission, the Foundation offers the Student Leadership Experience program (SLE), which “enhances and supplements leadership education at college campuses across Colorado that participate in Colorado Leadership Alliance (CLA), a program of the Denver Metro Chamber Foundation fostering leadership development at the university level.”
SLE is a two-year program with a $1000 scholarship for each of the four semesters that students are involved. Four students from UHL are involved in the SLE at any given time. SLE offers a varied and continually changing curriculum focusing on nonprofit leadership and organization, as well as valuable networking opportunities both among the SLE students and between the students and young professionals in the community. It is an excellent venue in which to meet and build connections with the best and brightest leadership students from universities across the state.
There are three SLE retreats held each academic year, an overnight in the fall semester and an overnight and a one-day wrap-up session in the spring semester. Students travel to Colorado Springs to meet with each other and work in the Penrose House, the headquarters of the El Pomar Foundation. The Foundation covers the expenses of travel, as well as providing room and board for the overnight stays. In addition to the educational retreats, SLE scholars also complete a year-long project (YLP) for both years of their involvement. For the YLP, scholars choose a Colorado-based nonprofit to work with over the course of the year. First-year students interview the Executive Director and other members of the board and staff, as well as volunteering with the organization. Second-year students work with the leadership of the nonprofit to determine an area of need that the organization has and formulate a project to address that need.
Click below to learn more about the current UHL El Pomar scholars.