For Morris Price, Jr., it’s the human impact, not the dollars, that matter

“Let them make the money. You keep changing the world.”

Morris W. Price, Jr. remembers his mother speaking these words to him decades ago, when he and his two sisters were home for the holidays. Price was working for DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., as associate director of admissions, and making less than $30,000 a year. His sisters talked about their jobs — one worked as a lawyer, the other for Boeing. Their year-end bonuses were more than his annual salary. But at DePauw, Price was seeing the difference higher education made for the students he recruited.

DePauw’s president was committed to multiculturalism. “Led by someone who fundamentally believes in this equity issue and pushes that through every aspect of the university…we went from 2 percent students of color to 18 percent,” Price said.

Now vice president of grants for the Colorado Trust, Price must have taken his mother’s words to heart. At the Trust, he oversees grantmaking by an organization Price empowers people and communities throughout Colorado to make change that promotes equity in health and wellbeing.

The common thread through every job he’s held is a focus on improving people’s lives.

In 1996, Price returned to Denver, where he grew up, to take a job at the University of Denver. Soon, he became a founding staff member at the Daniels Fund, which runs a college prep and scholarship program that serves students who otherwise wouldn’t consider higher education.

“Not all the kids got a scholarship, but our [thought] was, if we got them into the process and they learned how to access the resources, they would get additional scholarships,” Price said.

He remembers triplets, two of whom initially were chosen to receive scholarships. “We can’t call the house and tell the father, ‘Two of your three kids,’” he said, so they extended the scholarship to all three. Price made the call and the dad answered. The news stunned him so much that he dropped the phone.

Moments like those are why Price says he’s had a “dream career.” But his impact has been felt beyond his workplaces. Price is nearly as well-known his volunteerism as for his trademark bow ties. He’s served on boards of organizations including the National Urban League and the Denver Art Museum. He is currently president of the board of First Baptist Church of Denver, and he’s won the Professional Man of the Year Award from the Denver Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

In 2003, Price earned a Master’s in Nonprofit Management from Regis, with support from a Colorado Trust fellowship. Today, he sees the long-term effects of his work. He’s run into students he recruited to college who hold prestigious jobs. The father of those triplets, Price learned, was able to retire from King Soopers because of the son who got that third Daniels Fund scholarship. “[The son] graduated from DU, went off to work with Bane Capital, and that year, he [told his dad], ‘I put half a million dollars in your bank account. You’re retired.’”

At one point, Price thought maturing would mean becoming an analytical, left-brain thinker, like his sisters, but he’s grateful he took a different route. Through a mix of providence and circumstance, he stayed on a path that suits who he is: a person committed to fostering human wellbeing in ways that can’t be captured by numbers.