About Valley Settlement

History and Background

The Manaus Fund began in 2005 as a way to create a cultural shift in the nonprofit community: from resource scarcity and dependency to that of venture philanthropy and social entrepreneurship. The Manaus Fund started making strategic loans to local nonprofit organizations whose leaders envisioned the potential to create an earned income revenue stream. Focusing broadly on social justice and community building efforts, the Manaus Fund measured success through repaid loans and expanded nonprofit capacity.

The focus of the Manaus Fund board evolved as they implemented their mission to build the capacity of nonprofits and communities to achieve a more just society through investments and partnerships. A planning grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation enabled the Manaus Fund to actively reach out to understand the needs of the valley’s most vulnerable families. The pivot point for The Manaus Fund came after they began to directly interview low-income, mostly immigrant residents, asking them to talk about their lives. Using a community organizing approach, families were invited to talk privately to share their stories with bilingual organizers.

One-on-one interviews of 270 families in 2011 found that Latino immigrants had multiple barriers to settling and connecting to the Roaring Fork Valley community. Low-income immigrants were unconnected to schools, services, jobs and opportunities. Fear, poor public transportation, a lack of understanding or warm welcome from schools increased their sense of isolation. It became evident that no one in the community was systematically reaching out to welcome and engage young families. A key decision, in partnership with the Kellogg Foundation, was to respond in full to meet the needs of the whole family by taking a whole-family approach to address root causes of the multiple problems that were identified. Early childhood and adult education program elements were conceived in direct response to the needs of those interviewed.

A key strategy was to build the basic infrastructure necessary to implement seven programs simultaneously in twelve targeted neighborhoods. This work was made possible by a three-year grant of $1.2 million by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In addition to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, many other Foundations, regional governments and donors have supported our work. Valley Settlement became a stand-alone 501c3 nonprofit and left the Manaus Fund nest at the end of 2016.

The whole-family approach of Valley Settlement is transforming hundreds of lives each year.