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The Mile High Hardship Fund

The Mile High Hardship Fund is a program of the Colorado Restaurant Association, Mile High Chapter, a 501(c)(6) non-charitable organization. The Mile High Chapter is proud to provide emergency assistance to our hospitality employees through our philanthropic foundation. The Hardship Fund, our employee assistance program, was established to care for the employees working in restaurants, foodservice and hospitality. From helping with cost-of-living expenses due to injury, illness or natural disaster, the Mile High Chapter partners with the industry to provide one-time crisis grants to members of Denver’s hospitality community facing unanticipated hardship.

The Hardship Fund is a safety network for workers who are employed but are experiencing general hardship. The Mile High Chapter provides financial assistance in the form of Crisis Grants of up to $1,000 to those in crisis due to an unexpected illness, injury or natural disaster. Under certain circumstances, the board can vote to approve a greater amount. Funding for the Hardship Fund comes from a variety of sources including personal donations, corporate partnerships and events.

How does the Hardship Fund work?

Hospitality employees facing an unforeseen hardship may submit a simple application for a Crisis Grant through their manager. Requests will be processed and reviewed, with funding being allocated and based on available funds. If the hospitality employee is unable to submit the application directly, a third party may do so on their behalf.

Who can apply?

The Crisis Grant requires applicants to meet very specific criteria in order to qualify for financial assistance. While the Mile High Chapter develops and implements the application process, the organization will consider grants to individuals who are unable to pay basic living expenses as a direct result of unforeseen circumstances (including but not limited to injury, illness, death, natural disaster, fire, or housing emergency).

Grants will only be awarded to applicants who currently (or at the time of injury or illness) work and live in the geographic limits of the Chapter at least part-time for a hospitality-related business. If outside of the limits, the Mile High Chapter will provide resources to apply for the Angel Relief Fund through the Colorado Restaurant Foundation. For a Crisis Grant, an applicant must provide updated status documentation supplied by their employer, physician, landlord/lender, and insurance company, respectively.

How do I apply?

The manager of the hospitality employee will send an email to explaining the situation without exposing personal information and staying within HIPPA guidelines. Questions may be directed to the hardship fund email. It is our intent to respond within 72 hours.


Hardship fund grants are available for any Denver Metro hospitality worker who:

  • Has a primary source of income rooted in food and beverage
  • Lives in metro Denver and is facing an unanticipated hardship (within the past 6 months)
  • Has worked at current employer for at least 90 days (considerations may be given from previous employer)
  • Encounters an unexpected, unforeseen, non-recurring emergency

Eligible Hardships

Unanticipated hardships fit into one of the following categories:

  • Injury caused by an accident, such as a slip, fall, or crash
  • Debilitating illness or health issue resulting in inability to work for more than two weeks (for example, a heart attack)
  • Death of an immediate family member imposing a financial burden on the worker
  • Disaster, such as flood, fire, or storm damage (to name a few) causing disruption of a worker’s job or ability to work
  • Illness of a spouse (or spouse equivalent) or dependent child imposing a financial burden or causing a disruption of ability to work
  • Mental health-care needs that arise from one of the categories above
Rachel Pryor-Lease

Have questions or want to learn more about the mission of the CRF?

Rachel Pryor-Lease, CRF Director of Development, is available to answer any questions you have. Contact her at:  (303) 830-2972 x115