Chinook Fund supports community organizations working on issues of racial, social and economic justice in the state of Colorado.

Chinook Fund has given out over $2.85 million in grants since 1987. Chinook Fund pools money from Colorado’s progressive community and distributes it back to grassroots groups working on a wide range of social change issues.

Chinook funding supports the most strategic work unfolding at the local level to address globalization, poverty, war, racism and environmental destruction. Chinook Fund’s grassroots grantmaking is unique. We recruit our board and grantmaking committee members from the communities we serve throughout Colorado. With the direct knowledge these grantmakers bring, we are able to respond to new ideas and fresh thinking. Chinook Fund makes grants that other foundations may view as “risky” but are often funding years later.

Using our grassroots grantmaking process, we have been an early funder on key issues including HIV/AIDS, sexual violence, immigration, and globalization.

Our Staff

Jessica Nelson

Operations & Grants Manager

Jessica was born in Hong Kong and raised in Western Pennsylvania. She moved to California and then Colorado in 2011 to commit two years of her life to public service through AmeriCorps NCCC and City Year Denver. Before AmeriCorps shifted the trajectory of her life, Jessica graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Neuroscience from Allegheny College.

Now she is a part-time math & sciences tutor and a part-time Physics B.S. student at MSU Denver in addition to supporting Chinook Fund in every way she can. Jessica is thankful to be a part of the Chinook Fund team, learning every day about the depths of injustice, being inspired by the unique community solutions Chinook funds, and feeling empowered in making change from the administrative and support level for this work.

S. Juliette Lee

Program Director

Juliette grew up 3 miles from the CIA. The daughter of orphaned war survivors, she is dedicated to assisting minority, displaced, or disadvantaged communities. She earned a BA and Masters in Teaching from the University of Virginia before working for the Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG) as a canvass director and campus organizer, mobilizing college students around environmental, consumer rights, and democracy initiatives. She opened a field office for US PIRG in New Orleans before attending the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she earned an Advanced Feminist Studies Certificate and an MFA in Poetry. She taught for the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate Program and at the College of Art Media and Design at the University of the Arts. After completing her qualifying exams for a PhD in English from Temple University, Juliette left higher education to work more directly for marginalized and oppressed people.

Juliette strongly supports the arts as a vehicle for social transformation. In 2005, she founded Corollary Press, a series dedicated to multi-ethnic innovative writing, which she ran for ten years. Though the series ended, Corollary Press is held at the Poetry Center at ASU, SUNY Buffalo, Poet’s House in NYC, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. She helped coordinate the 2014 National Asian American Theater Conference and Festival, and continues to publish essays on race and culture; new articles are on deck for the Smithsonian Institute and Oxford University Press. A video artist and author, Juliette was a 2013 Pew Fellow in the Arts for Literature, and has held residencies in video art, poetry, and dance at Kunstnarhuset Messen (Norway), Hafnarborg (Iceland), Casa Libre en la Solana (Arizona), and the UCross Foundation (Wyoming). She occasionally teaches writing workshops at Lighthouse Writers Workshop.

Juliette most recently worked at The Gathering Place, where she coordinated fundraising events, and is happy to make Denver her new home.

Chelsea Manley

Events & Communications Coordinator

Chelsea provides the framework, strategy and implementation plan for communications and events at Chinook Fund. She believes that connection is the key to successful communication and has developed a passion for using her interpersonal skills to create messaging that appeals to a variety of target audiences.

At the Chinook Fund, Chelsea delivers timely and strategic communications to build visibility through print, social media, online and multimedia platforms; while also spearheading events from start to finish. Chelsea most recently worked at a Medicaid agency as an administrative director where she led advertising and marketing efforts, as well as client communications. She has also served as a public policy intern at Colorado Nonprofit Association and a program intern at Stride.

Chelsea graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.