Creating a Meaningful Place for Nonprofits

As corporate social responsibility has evolved, it’s transformed from a trendy term used by major corporations to a common expectation of all businesses. Brinkman, a real estate developer based in Northern Colorado, takes a unique approach to community impact by using their mission, Using Business as a Force for Good, as the primary driver of their business decisions. According to Brinkman, achieving that mission often requires creative partnerships in which they combine their expertise in real estate development with their partners’ knowledge of the most significant issues impacting communities.

Over the past few years, a shortage of affordable childcare has become a growing issue impacting Northern Colorado. Availability of infant care in Fort Collins is estimated at 25% of demand and preschool age care is estimated at 60% of demand. Those numbers increase rapidly when you add in the factor of affordability. As availability of quality childcare has decreased and costs have increased, municipalities, counties, nonprofits and businesses have turned their focus on the necessity of finding solutions to address this concern.

In today’s world, positive change cannot be executed in silos. Recognizing this staggering childcare shortfall and the potential compounding effects, officemates United Way of Larimer County and Teaching Tree Early Childhood Learning Center put their heads together to explore ways in which they could serve more families in Larimer County. The result was a collaboration with Brinkman that aims to capitalize on economies of scale to increase the capacity of Teaching Tree, United Way and other vital community resources.

As part of their mission-driven real estate model, Brinkman saw an opportunity to establish a unique structure that would add value to an existing real estate asset at 525 West Oak Street in Fort Collins while creating a unique space for further positive collaboration. Brinkman is subsidizing tenant improvements and providing below-market-cost of occupancy for United Way, allowing them to give up their space in the Pine Street office shared with Teaching Tree. The trickle-down effect of this strategic partnership will be to double Teaching Tree’s capacity, helping to close the ever-growing gap of affordable childcare in Larimer County.

The long-term vision for the 525 West Oak Street building, named the Community Impact Center, is to transform it into a collaborative space anchored by United Way that houses several other nonprofits in one location, creating efficiencies in their operations and allowing them to increase their capacity. With United Way as the master tenant, they will be able to sub-lease to other agencies at a reduced rate, develop shared services, increase efficiency and reduce duplication in the nonprofit community.

One of the most famous sayings from Greek storyteller Aesop is “in union there is strength.” That is certainly true in this case with public, private, and nonprofit entities combining powers to address a vital need and strengthen their collective community impact. Not only will more families have access to affordable childcare, but Brinkman is building a meaningful place for nonprofits to continue their life-changing work.