Like many other states across the country, Colorado's immigrant population has increased over the last decade and now makes up 10% of Colorado's population. In the late 1990s, through ongoing scanning of issues of health and well-being across Colorado, The Trust learned that there are a number of unmet needs of immigrants. For example, when people from other countries relocate here they face challenges in trying to find health care, understanding a new school system and even in basic communication with their new neighbors. At the same time, established residents may have concerns about connecting with immigrants who are now their neighbors, and the resulting potential isolation in their communities. The Trust's initiative supports newcomers and established residents in working together for strong, healthy communities.
Initial grants of The Colorado Trust's Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Families Initiative (SIRFI) supported 23 organizations that provided mental health or cultural adjustment services to immigrants and refugees. As the initiative unfolded, The Trust recognized the need for greater commitment by both immigrants and their receiving communities to achieve successful immigrant integration – including collaboration among mainstream institutions, immigrant-serving organizations and individual community members.
Building on SIRFI, funding supported 19 Colorado communities (10 communities began receiving support in 2004; an additional nine communities received grants in 2006) in their efforts to support immigrants and established residents in working together for healthy communities. Each of the 19 grantee communities first conducted an inclusive planning process to establish their specific needs and strategies to address those needs. Those plans, and implementation efforts, included - among others - strengthening local health care providers' ability to offer competent care to people from different cultures, helping immigrant parents to become more involved in their children's schools, improving access to English classes for immigrants, and developing mentoring opportunities among foreign and native-born families.
Learn more about the 19 communities' and the lessons learned in their work to develop and implement comprehensive, local integration plans.
Colorado Department of Education
Additionally, recognizing that schools are where immigrant families often have the most community interaction and the important role education plays in the long-term integration of children, the Colorado Department of Education and The Trust jointly created the Immigrant Integration Educator Resource Guide. This guide provides specific recommendations to help immigrant students integrate into their new schools, with a focus on enrollment, family and community outreach, classroom instruction, student assessment, school-based adult ESL classes, family literacy and more. For more information, please contact Noemi Aguilar, Parent Engagement Coordinator, Colorado Department of Education, 303-866-6743.
To pilot the guide's recommendations, The Trust has provided support to the following 10 schools and school districts:
- Alamosa Public Schools
- Aurora Public Schools
- Denver Public Schools
- Gunnison Watershed School District
- Montrose County School District
- St. Vrain Valley School District
- Steamboat Springs School District
- Summit School District
- Telluride School District
- Weld County School District 6
Community Science is conducting an independent evaluation to examine how communities collaborate around issues of immigrant integration and to track grantee activities around integration. The evaluation concludes in December 2009; a report will be released in 2010.
Kien Lee, PhD, Principal Associate, Community Science, 301-519-0722, ext. 102
Nancy Csuti, DrPH, Director of Research, Evaluation & Strategic Learning, The Colorado Trust, 303-837-1200
Grantees Cycle I (2004-2009) Cycle II (2006-2011)
Cycle I (2004-2009)
Cycle II (2006-2011)
GRANT TIMEFRAME: 2003-2012
GRANT AMOUNT: $10,733,504
CONTACT: LAUREL PETRALIA