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Top Company 2023: Nonprofit

Now in its 36th year, ColoradoBiz magazine’s Top Company Awards program recognizes businesses and organizations based in Colorado or with a significant presence in the state that are leading the way in their fields, as demonstrated by financial performance, notable company achievements and community engagement.

To be considered, Top Company entrants submitted applications throughout the year online at ColoradoBiz.com. From those entries, which numbered in the hundreds, the magazine’s editorial board narrowed the field to three finalists (in most cases) in each industry category. A judging panel made up of area business leaders and ColoradoBiz staff then met to compare notes on the finalists and decide winners in 14 industries plus the Startup category, for companies in business four years or less.

Congratulations are in order not only to the 41 winners and finalists profiled on the following pages, but to all the companies that took the time to tell us about their achievements and obstacles surmounted over the past year that make them worthy of Top Company consideration.

READ: Fall 2023 Issue — Top Company Awards, Inside the CHIPS and SCIENCE Act, and More


WINNER

Hope Communities

Denver, CO

Website: hopecommunities.org 

Hope Communities provides people in need with affordable housing, rental assistance and pathways to opportunities that foster personal and economic growth. Founded in 1980 by concerned citizens, Hope has four Denver locations that serve as hubs for the development of close-knit, supportive communities.  

Hope’s no-cost programs and services are tailored to meet individual client needs and are not limited to residents. The organization recognizes the connection between the lack of opportunities people with limited economic means often face, and the inability to achieve social and economic mobility, health and well-being. 

Addressing those economic challenges, Hope provides resources and coaching to help clients secure jobs with livable wages and benefits; it strives to help clients understand finances and the means by which they can achieve their economic goals, including credit score improvement and safety-net savings. 

The organization points to a recent report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition that there is not a single state in the U.S. in which the average wage of renters who work full time covers the average rent of a two-bedroom apartment in their state. 

In 2022, Hope Communities served 3,235 clients, its largest number ever and a 75 percent increase over 2021. In the past six years, Hope has tripled its staff, from 12 to 36 (with 22 languages spoken among staffers). Just as impressive: 87 percent of Hope’s income is spent on programs; only 13 percent on fundraising and administration. 

Other highlights in 2022 included 12 affordable-housing clients purchasing homes; 278 affordable units rented at 30 percent to 80 percent of Denver’s AMI (area median income); 921 refugees served; 46,414 meals served; and 76 post-incarceration clients assisted with housing, skills resources and employment. 

FINALISTS 

Denver Urban Gardens 

Denver, CO

Website: dug.org 

Denver Urban Gardens was formally incorporated in 1985 to support Denver residents in creating sustainable, food-producing neighborhood community gardens. Over the past 38 years, its network of community gardens has expanded across six metro Denver counties, including 193 community gardens and 15 food forests throughout metro Denver, more than 70 of which are school-based community gardens. 

In addition to gardens, Denver Urban Gardens (aka DUG) programs provide access, skills and resources to help people grow food in the community and regenerate urban green space through youth programming, skill-building workshops for adults, community-centered events, volunteer workdays, free and reduced-cost seeds and seedlings, and compost training. 

Denver Urban Gardens is changing the perception of what it means to be a climate organization. While the organization continues to build its network of community gardens, the education effort around the climate impact of gardens, food forests, and urban green space development is restructuring how we imagine thriving cities. Two major projects are leading this charge at DUG. 

The first is DUG’s Urban Garden Project. The project is meant for national expansion of the DUG model and focuses on the intersection of social and environmental issues such as food insecurity; climate change; loss of urban green space; loneliness and the collective mental health crisis. 

The second is the Etkin Family Food Forest Initiative (FFI). As Denver works to grow its urban tree canopy, DUG’s food forest efforts are a crucial component. A food forest is a highly integrated community of food-producing plants with several vertical and horizontal diverse layers of trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials that thrive together while yielding food, medicine and habitat. 

In 2022, DUG successfully piloted the FFI, installing food forests at six existing DUG gardens, planting 92 trees and 147 berry bushes. In 2023, DUG has planted nine new food forests with plans to reach 20 total by the end of the year. 

The Chanda Center For Health 

Lakewood, CO

Website: chandacenter.org 

Established in 2007, The Chanda Center for Health strives to improve health outcomes for people living with long-term physical disabilities by delivering comprehensive integrative health care that includes acupuncture, behavioral health, chiropractic, dental, massage, adaptive yoga, physical therapy and care coordination. 

In 2009, the organization led a movement to pass Colorado House Bill 1047, which created the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Waiver, thus offering acupuncture, massage and chiropractic care through Medicaid to evaluate cost effectiveness and improve quality of life for persons with spinal cord injuries in the Denver area. In 2021, the movement evolved and expanded (it’s now the CIH Waiver) to other diagnoses and to become a statewide benefit. 

Partners include Jefferson Center for Mental Health, Thrive PT, Craig Hospital, Native Roots and Wana Cares. By partnering with these organizations, participants (who already have trouble with transportation) can now get these services at The Chanda Center for Health. 

Cannabis Cares Program Aims to Provide Relief to Coloradans with Physical Disabilities

In advance of the upcoming 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26th, the Chanda Center for Health, a local nonprofit organization that delivers and advocates for integrative therapy, primary care, and other complementary services to improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs for people with long-term physical disabilities, is partnering with Wana Brands, the biggest edibles brand in North America, and Native Roots, a dispensary retailer with 20 locations across the Front Range, to launch the Cannabis Cares program.

READ: Native Roots Guest Commentary — Inclusivity in the Cannabis Industry

Pioneering modern wellness, the Cannabis Cares program was created to give access to cannabis products for participants of the Chanda Center for Health at no cost. By applying on the online form, participants receive up to $50 worth of Wana products per month at designated Native Roots locations. Chanda Center participants have used cannabis to help manage pain, achieve restful sleep, lower anxiety, and decrease or eliminate the use of prescription medication, including opioids.

Injured at the age of 9, Chanda Hinton, founder of the Chanda Center for Health, has been a steadfast advocate in Colorado, championing bills (CIH Waiver) and fighting endlessly for individuals with disabilities to get access to equitable healthcare. Crediting complementary and integrative care for her restoring her health, Hinton has made it her mission to provide access to treatments like cannabis for pain prevention & relief to individuals with long-term physical disabilities to ensure a better quality of life.

“After utilizing the “traditional” medical model, which included no movement and a lot of medication, resulting in poor outcomes and chronic conditions, complementary & integrative treatments like acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic saved my life. Cannabis, like these other alternative treatments, reduces my pain, allows for greater mobility due to reduced spasticity, and better sleep for an improved quality of life, explains Chanda Hinton, Executive Director, Chanda Center for Health. “Creating access to proactive healthcare options was one of the primary motivations for founding the Chanda Center for Health. We are grateful to Native Roots and Wana for making the Cannabis Cares program possible, and we are eager for our participants to have access to high-quality products and a personalized customer experience.”

Product partner Wana Brands is the creator of the Wana Optimals daily wellness product line, which includes Quick Calm, Fast Asleep, and Stay Asleep, all created from science-backed innovative formulations that maximize plant potential for healing. To further medical research around the potential of cannabinoid therapies, the Wana Brands Foundation has gifted $3 million in donations to Johns Hopkins University for its Cannabis Science Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. The company is also a supporter of CUChange Cannabis Research at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

“Our mission as a company is to enhance the lives of our customers and improve the communities that share a part of our story,” explains Karla Rodriquez, Corporate Social Responsibility Director of Wana Brands. “We are so inspired by all that Chanda has accomplished and the many people she has helped. We are honored to further the Chanda Center for Health mission by creating access to cannabis as a treatment option, which will not only improve health outcomes, but also continue to normalize and destigmatize cannabis as a wellness tool.”

Dispensary partner Native Roots is the largest privately-owned vertically-integrated operator in the State, with 20 locations across Colorado carrying a wide selection of Wana products. Denver-based customers can place an order online for a cannabis delivery to their doorstep, creating further access for those with physical disabilities. Native Roots also supports the advancement of cannabis research and is the exclusive dispensary partner for CUChange Cannabis Research at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

“The health and wellness of the communities we serve is a priority for us, and we are honored at the opportunity to help Chanda Center for Health participants access the cannabis medicine they need to live healthier lives,” states Liz Zukowski, Policy & Public Affairs Manager at Native Roots Cannabis Co. “We believe in the power of cannabis to improve health outcomes and overall wellness, and take great care to ensure our budtenders are informed and thoughtful in how they guide each customer to a product best-suited for their needs.”

If you are interested in seeking eligibility for all Chanda Center for Health programs visit www.chandacenter.org. For more information or to request an interview, contact Emily Meshell at 318-564-8195 or [email protected] or Barrie Cohen at 303-900-7505 or [email protected].

About Native Roots Cannabis Co.

Native Roots Cannabis Co. is one of Colorado’s most successful vertically integrated medical and adult-use cannabis operators. Native Roots has 20 dispensary locations across Colorado, serving thousands of adult consumers daily and the state’s largest number of registered patient members. With over a decade of experience providing cannabis to patients and adult consumers, Native Roots has won national recognition for its sustainable business practices, retail design, high-quality products and employment practices. Since 2010, Coloradans have turned to Native Roots as their trusted leader in cannabis for wellness and recreation. Native Roots offers a vast assortment of affordable products and a welcoming environment for cannabis beginners and experts alike. Rooted in the community, we are Colorado’s Happy Place. In 2022, Native Roots was named to the Civic 50, an initiative that recognizes and celebrates the 50 most community-minded companies in Colorado. To learn more about the company, visit nativerootscannabis.com. Follow Native Roots on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Wana Brands

With North America’s largest distribution footprint, cannabis edibles producer Wana Brands is a top international brand available in 15 U.S. states, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico and nine Canadian provinces and territories, generating close to $300 million in retail sales annually across more than 3,000 dispensaries. Through industry-leading innovation, Wana is developing cutting-edge use-case formulations and recipes, such as Wana Quick Fast-Acting Gummies, the top-selling quick-onset edible, and the Optimals Fast Asleep formulation. Wana is committed to the communities it serves by supporting more than 50 charitable organizations in the markets where the company operates. For more information or to subscribe to Wana’s e-newsletter, visit www.wanabrands.com. Follow Wana on Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

The Chanda Center for Health

The Chanda Center for Health strives to improve health outcomes for people living with long-term physical disabilities by delivering comprehensive integrative healthcare, which include acupuncture, behavioral health, chiropractic, dental, massage, adaptive yoga, physical therapy, and care coordination.  Funding for services is provided by Medicaid, because of the Center’s advocacy work, and generous donors of the Chanda Plan Foundation, both 501 (c) (3) non-profit organizations. Follow The Chanda Center for Health on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.