Who We Are
The SUN Foundation was established in 2013 to support our affiliate, Developmental Pathways. Our role in the Pathways family is to raise additional funds that provide vital assistance to thousands of individuals waiting for state and federal funding. We identify specific areas of need and cultivate relationships with individual and corporate donors to support the 7,000+ people with developmental disabilities/delays who are served by Developmental Pathways in Douglas and Arapahoe counties and the City of Aurora.
Aside from fundraising, we are committed to creating lasting partnerships with other organizations in our community such as Aurora and Douglas County Public Schools and Children’s Hospital Colorado. Together with our partner organizations, we’ve made great strides to provide the funding necessary for initiatives such as respite for family caregivers, training for behavioral therapists, and transportation for individuals to attend day programs.
Perhaps the most critical role we serve is providing emergency funds to individuals and families in crisis for whom existing funding sources is inadequate. Out of this great need, our name and mission was coined—to Serve the Unmet Needs in our community with the aim of providing solutions for people needing support now.
Enriching lives. Strengthening communities.
To provide financial resources in serving unmet needs of individuals with developmental disabilities/delays in their pursuit of a meaningful life.
Integrity: To be true to our beliefs: respectful, honest, transparent and fair.
Innovation: To be thought leaders, transforming cutting edge ideas into tangible actions.
Partnership: To be a trusted, vital partner in our community.
Stewardship: To honor and protect all our resources.
1. Actively build meaningful relationships with new and existing donors, creating long term mission loyalty and support.
2. To intentionally build a highly adaptable, responsive, and skilled team; furthering fundraising initiatives and results.
3. Establish and maintain a deeply engaged and well-connected fundraising advisory board.
4. Re-imagine and further establish The SUN Foundation as a brand, including developing targeted marketing campaigns.
5. Formalize and communicate an annual fundraising plan, including refining fundraising goals, strategies and actions.
To view our entire Strategic Plan click here.
Areas of Impact
Thousands of individuals are currently waiting for state and federal funding to receive services from Developmental Pathways. SUN Emergency funds can provide much needed support to these individuals and their families waiting for funds and those already receiving funding. Support comes in the form of medical equipment not covered by Medicaid, a variety of therapies, and home modifications.
Many individuals with a developmental disability rely on public transportation to get to a job or to increase their independence. However, annual public transportation can cost thousands of dollars and present the barriers of limited routes and rigid time schedules. Through our Transportation initiative, we are partnering with local organizations such as Douglas County E-470 and RTD to offer more comprehensive and affordable means of transportation for the people we serve.
At age 3, children graduate from the state-funded Early Intervention program. This poses a problem for many children who face a 2 year gap in services until they are eligible for services through the school system at age 5. The 3+ Initiative began as a stop-gap effort to help children and families sustain the progress made through the Early Intervention program. Funding for 3+ provides services such as physical, speech, and occupational therapy as well as developmental and behavioral intervention.
Respite care is temporary relief designed for families of children or adults with a developmental disability/delay. Caretakers often face a great deal of stress trying to balance the needs of their loved one with a developmental disability and the needs of the rest of their family members. The high monthly cost of respite care adds to the strain of daily life, not to mention the frustration of finding qualified caregivers. Respite funding can provide an hour or two each week for caretakers to buy groceries, go to dinner, or recharge in whatever way they choose while knowing their loved one is receiving professional care.
Melanie Worley, Chief Executive Officer
Melanie Worley, a commissioner for 10 years before coming to The SUN Foundation, received the Distinguished Service Award from ADMHN in 2009 for her work in helping protect benefits for mentally ill individuals, was the Colorado Counties, Inc. Commissioner of the year in 2001, and won the Colorado Counties, Inc. Distinguished Service Award in 2008. In 2015, Melanie was appointed by Governor John Hickenlooper to the Respite Care Task Force. Among numerous other posts, Melanie serves on the board of directors for AllHealth. Melanie also served as past chairwoman of the Highlands Ranch Chamber. She has been chairwoman of the Denver Regional Council of Governments, initiated the formation of the Partnership of Douglas County Governments, and received a federal appointment to the Local Government Advisory Committee, providing local perspective to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Matt VanAuken, Chief Operations Officer
Matt brings over 20 years of multi-unit and executive leadership and management experience to our organization. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Phoenix and a Master in Business Administration (MBA), Healthcare Management from Western Governors’ University. Matt currently serves as the chairperson for the El Paso County Human Services Advisory Committee, is a Governor appointed member of the Colorado State Board of Health, and board member for the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Matt is also an active participant in Alliance Association, and the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR). Previously, he worked as the Director for Children, Youth and Families for Jefferson County Human Services, Vice President of Operations for Hard Rock Café, and Vice President of Operations for Olive Garden. Matt lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and two beautiful children.