Salazar Foundation expands philanthropy to focus on homelessness
By Marissa Armas,2022-09-15
Passing through the intersection of Speer Boulevard and Auraria Parkway, you might notice a building with some familiar names.
"We didn't put our names on the buildings to show off. We put our names on the building because people asked us to, they said it's important," said Lola Salazar, the president of the Salazar Family Foundation. "They said 'it's important for you to be the role model for all the kids going through this university, and for the young kids growing up.'"
Growing up in predominantly Latino, working-class neighborhoods, Lola and her husband Rob Salazar didn't have many resources. The couple met while attending different Denver Public Schools high schools, becoming parents at a young age. Rob grew up in the northside and is a graduate of North High School. Lola grew up in southwest Denver and is a graduate of Lincoln High School.
"We did not have a lot of money, but we knew education was important and we both wanted degrees. We didn't know how we were going to do it, so we made the decision to do it one at a time," she said.
The couple pursued degrees and eventually began careers in education and accounting. And after years of working hard and achieving financial success in the late 90s, they created the Salazar Family Foundation as a way to give back to the people and places that once helped them. The foundation is currently run by the couple and their children.
"Some of our successes have been a little harder because of who we are and where we came from," Lola said. "I want kids to know that with the successes that they have, with the struggles that they have, that I actually had those same ones, and that if I can achieve, so can they. I think it's important for them to see that I look like one of their relatives."
Over the years the foundation has given millions to a myriad of causes throughout the Denver metro area, such as the Mi Casa Resource Center and the Denver Foundation, helping build a stronger community.
"I think my legacy is leaving a little piece of kindness," she said.
For years, the Salazar Foundation has focused on giving back to education-based organizations, but now it plans on moving its mission to also focus on homelessness in Denver. Lola said the community can no longer look the other way when this many people are sleeping on the streets. She said they will continue giving back to others in the community, so that those in the community can eventually give back, too.
"Dream big, big, big, to set goals, and write them down, and to work really, really hard to achieve them, but then also to remember to give back," Lola said.