"The challenge before us is to work neighborhood by neighborhood, school by school, church by church, and business by business to create a community of caring citizens who share common values and a commitment to all children and families."
-- Sam Gary, founder and chairman, The Piton Foundation
The Piton Foundation was incorporated in Colorado in September 1976 and began awarding grants in February 1977. The founder, Denver oil man Sam Gary, determined Piton's mission would be to improve conditions and opportunities for persons inadequately served by institutions in our society. (Read Sam Gary's bio.) The foundation, like the mountain climbing tool for which it was named, attempts to provide timely and needed support where none previously existed.
In its first 15 years, the foundation made grants in three main areas: children, youth and families; education; and general community support. In addition to its grant-making, Piton developed programs in its areas of focus, provided loans and program-related investments, and partnered with national foundations on projects related to its mission. Over the years, Piton has worked in long-term partnerships with The Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation to address urban poverty and channel millions of private dollars into housing, and community and economic development projects in Denver.
In 1992, The Piton Foundation changed from a grant-making foundation to an operating foundation. As an operating foundation, Piton does not accept unsolicited grant proposals, but uses its private funding to develop, manage, and incubate programs to create opportunities for lower-income families in Denver. Piton also makes some grants to organizations that play a strategic role in working with the foundation to implement its programs.