The Power of $1

December 8, 2015
This December, The Dime is taking on the theme of giving back. We have dedicated a portion of our posts, including our weekly Dime Roll, to introducing volunteering opportunities all over the state and other ways for everyone to lend a hand or give back to the community

As part of our series on nonprofit organizations doing work in the Colorado community, we decided to include one nonprofit driven entirely by a PERA retiree that relies on participation by PERA retirees to make it work.

The Strength in Change Foundation was a vision of PERA retiree Judy Vanderleest that recently became a reality.  She likes the feeling of giving back so much that she wanted to start a movement to spread that joy to other PERA retirees while benefitting the future of Colorado—its children.

Strength in Change began when Judy imagined the impact PERA retirees could have if each one donated $1 per month from his or her PERA retirement benefit.   The concept is simple—take the $1 donation, add it to the $1 donations of other PERA retirees, and write a check to a Colorado nonprofit focusing on children.  The retirees who contribute may nominate their favorite nonprofit organizations to receive the money, and the name(s) of the recipients are drawn randomly. (Of course, before the organization is put into the drawing, there is a thorough investigation process.)

One PERA retiree from the State Department of Regulatory Agencies sees the value of her monthly $1 donation potentially turning into a generous donation for Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect.   Another PERA retiree from the Jefferson County School District hopes her dollar will end up with the Summit County Mountain Mentors.

Where would you send the money? If even half of the current retirees donate $1, it would mean over $50,000 a month would be collected.  Judy believes that, given the chance, Strength in Change will show that a single dollar can have a lasting impact on the life of a child.

To learn more about the process for nominating a nonprofit, the selection of the nonprofit, the foundation (and its by-laws, board members and much more), visit

If you are a current PERA retiree and want to participate, visit, sign into your account, and then click “forms” at the top of the page, where the Authorization for Strength in Change Deduction is listed.  Just complete and submit it online.

Judy Vanderleest retired from the Judicial Branch in 2011.  During her career with the courts, she ran her district’s annual Colorado Combined Campaign, was a United Way board member, and saw firsthand the impact donations make to local nonprofits.  She loves to travel, read, and volunteer.  If you have any ideas or feedback she has provided her e-mail to our readers: