Colorado Healing Fund will give $800,000 more to Club Q survivors after advocates called for more help

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A dried out bouquets of flowers in there parking lot of Club Q in Colorado Springs, the day Anderson Lee Aldrich pleaded guilty on Monday, June 26, 2023, to five counts of first-degree murder and 46 counts of attempted first-degree murder in a mass shooting at Club Q, a Colorado Springs LGBTQ club, last year.

Updated at 3:30 p.m., June 29, 2023

The Colorado Healing Fund (CHF) says it will dole out more than $800,000 additional dollars to Club Q survivors and relatives of victims. The move follows continued backlash from victim advocacy groups who say the funds are not reaching the people they’re intended to help. CHF Executive Director Jordan Finegan said a meeting to discuss the disbursement was scheduled prior to the most recent outcry .

The nonprofit is set up to collect money for victims of mass casualty crimes in the state. It's often touted by officials as a safe, secure way for the public to offer support. 

In a press release last week, CHF Executive Director Jordan Finegan said $811,400 in donations received for the benefit of victims of the November 2022 Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs would be sent out. Of that, $761,400 will be paid out to victims in lump-sum cash distributions, according to Finegan. 

The release also said an additional $50,000 in donations would be disbursed "to cover current, specific victim assistance requests previously identified by advocates."

In total, more than $3.2 million was raised by CHF following the Club Q shooting, according to the group’s records. When it happens, this most recent round of disbursements would mean 90 percent of all donated funds have been given out. 

At a press conference last week, a small group of people impacted by the violence at Club Q called on CHF to release the remaining money in its possession. Some spoke of being unable to pay rent, cover medical bills or feed their children, 

James Slaugh was shot multiple times at Club Q. He said having to continually ask for money is "revictimizing."

"The Colorado Healing Fund put its name out there. They said they would take care of us and here we are – again – seven months in. They call themselves the Colorado Healing Fund, but they've done anything but [that]," Slaugh said.

The press conference was the latest in a string of criticisms criticizing the CHF model and disbursement practices.

Per its model, the fund said it will hold $300,000 in reserve to address the continued needs of victims. 

Finegan said the organization is working with Colorado Springs-based Community Health Partnership on a distribution and coordinating with all the victim advocates including Bread and Roses Legal Center and the Colorado Springs Police Department. She said individuals will also have the opportunity to pick checks directly up from them Community Health Partnership.

"Over 70 people in 3 groups will be receiving checks. The checks will go out the week of July 10th," Finegan said in an email.

Z Williams with Bread and Roses Legal Center – a small social justice organizing group offering mutual aid and advocacy – has been working with some Club Q survivors and relatives of victims to call out the fund. In a tweet following the announcement, they said the result should be a lesson for anyone who thinks organizing doesn't work. 

"Survivors and the families of victims insisted that the Healing Fund do better. They held their feet to the fire. And bit by bit we have pushed the money out their door," Williams wrote. "This happened because survivors organized, agitated, educated, and took action."

Five people were killed and 17 others were injured by gunfire on November 19, 2022, at Club Q, a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub. The shooter pleaded guilty to murder and hate crime charges Monday and was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences plus an additional 2,208 years in prison. 

Raymond Green Vance, 22; Daniel Aston, 28; Ashley Paugh, 35; Derrick Rump, 38; and Kelly Loving, 40, died in the shooting.