The Colorado Trust is committed to advancing the health and well-being of all Coloradans, and we believe that the people most affected by challenges should play a lead role in determining how to address them.
In 2014, to help communities influence the systems that impact their health, The Trust launched the first version of what we now call the Community Partnerships strategy. Over the years, the strategy iterated in approach, and recently resourced and funded leaders to organize their communities to advocate for change across Colorado by identifying the assets and barriers to health equity, and proposing and implementing solutions.
Community organizers engaged with their communities to build awareness of the many issues that impact health and well-being, including housing stability, food access, educational attainment and systemic racism. They worked with community members to identify, raise awareness and address urgent community needs.
In the Hillside neighborhood of Colorado Springs, community members successfully convinced the city to improve the Leon Young Pavilion, an important community park honoring the legacy of the city’s first Black mayor. In Saguache, in the San Luis Valley, resident team members partnered with state and local agencies and others in the community to construct a greenhouse and food pantry to address food insecurity in the area. In Fort Morgan, on the Eastern Plains, resident team members brought live interpretation to city council meetings to allow more diverse and robust civic participation and promote language justice. We are proud of this and other work within the Community Partnerships strategy, and we are deeply grateful for the efforts of the talented community organizers at The Trust who established connections with the communities where they worked.
As an organization that values strategic learning, we believe it’s essential to closely examine our successes and failures and iterate on our work. After carefully reviewing evaluation findings and following many conversations with stakeholders, The Trust came to the difficult conclusion to end the Community Partnerships strategy by the end of 2022. We found that our inherent legal constraints as a private foundation and our internal structures too often hampered organizers’ work. Moving forward, The Trust intends to recognize our role within communities by directly funding organizations that are better positioned to improve health equity in Colorado.
We know this is a significant shift and that this decision will have rippling impacts throughout communities in the state. To honor the energy and efforts of dedicated community leaders, and to help communities create a lasting legacy of service to their neighbors and families, The Trust has committed $5 million to culminate the Community Partnerships strategy. Community members are working directly with Colorado Trust staff and other local stakeholders to identify grantees that are working to reduce health inequities in their communities. These organizations will be funded through an invite-only process.
We firmly believe that all Coloradans should be able to live long and healthy lives, and we will continue to provide funding and resources to organizations making positive changes in communities across our state. We are currently revamping how we fund health equity efforts in Colorado and are launching a strategic planning process with The Colorado Trust’s Board of Trustees and the senior leadership team. We plan to include opportunities for community input, and we will share more information as that process unfolds. In the interim, if you have any questions about the conclusion of the Community Partnerships strategy, you are welcome to contact us.
Finally, we express gratitude for the organizers, regional managers, project administrators, everyone on the resident teams, and all the staff who have dedicated their time and energy to building power in communities across the state with our Community Partnerships strategy.
A Better Future for Colorado's Communities
To help the Saguache community prosper, residents developed their own version of the Family Leadership Training Institute program.See more stories
- Dog Patch (Pueblo)
- Dove Creek
- Fort Collins
- Fort Lupton
- Fort Morgan
- Hillside (Colo. Springs)
- Lago Vista Mobile Home Park (Loveland area)
- Montbello (Denver)
- Northwest Aurora
- Olathe (support for language justice work)
- Parachute and Battlement Mesa (Grand Valley)
- Saguache and Lazy KV Estates
- San Luis
- Southwest Colorado
To better understand the impact of the Community Partnerships strategy across Colorado, The Trust is working with several entities to perform a multi-level evaluation.
First, local evaluators are partnering with resident teams to assess their work and help them identify changes needed within community-level projects.
Second, an empowerment evaluation (managed by Change Matrix) is underway with funded communities and the local evaluators, to offer coaching, training and support for resident teams to design and conduct local-level evaluation of their health equity plans, and also to assure alignment with the strategy principle to build and sustain capacity in the communities. The evaluation measures are being directed by the resident teams.
Third, The Trust is working with an external contractor (Community Science) to complete a macro-evaluation of the strategy; at this level, the evaluation is assessing the strategy’s success in building power in communities.
Lastly, The Trust is conducting an ongoing process evaluation among resident teams, to better understand successes and challenges of partnering with The Trust on the Community Partnerships work. The goal is to use this feedback to improve the strategy and share back information, stories and learnings among resident teams.
Evaluation contact: Courtney Ricci, PhD, head of evaluation & learning for community change, 303-837-1200.