Exemplifying the seventh cooperative principle, “concern for community,” Colorado’s electric cooperatives joined with the state’s co-op power supplier and one of its lenders to donate money to Colorado relief funds in early April. The funds were sent as the first stay-at-home order was issued and co-op consumer-members found themselves out of work and businesses were forced to alter their operations or close.
The Colorado Rural Electric Association, the trade association for Colorado’s electric cooperatives, donated $5,000 to the Colorado Relief Fund. Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, which supplies electricity to 18 of Colorado’s 22 electric cooperatives, donated money to relief funds in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming that totaled $200,000. Tri-State serves 46 electric co-ops in those four states.
CoBank, a cooperative bank serving electric co-ops and other agribusinesses and Farm Credit associations nationwide, donated $150,000 to the University of Colorado Foundation to support UCHealth’s response as the state’s leading provider of acute care for COVID-19 victims. The bank also increased funds in its dollar-for-dollar matching program that allows local co-ops to assist nonprofit organizations in rural communities.
Concern for community is one of the guiding principles for not-for-profit cooperatives. Electric cooperatives, which were formed by local communities, have a long history of supporting their local areas in times of crisis. The co-op response to the COVID-19 crisis is another example of that.
“Cooperatives know well that we are all stronger when we combine our resources and work together to serve our communities,” said Rick Gordon, chairman of Tri-State and a director at Mountain View Electric Association in Limon.
“CREA is working throughout this crisis to support its member cooperatives as they support their local communities,” said CREA Executive Director Kent Singer. “Together we will get through this.”