The north metro region of Colorado — which includes Adams and Broomfield counties, and the cities of Arvada and Aurora — is home to more than 900,000 diverse community members. It is also one of the fastest-developing regions in Colorado, having grown its population by 19% over the past decade, with no signs of slowing down.
Despite its fast growth and diverse community, the region has historically faced deeply entrenched disparities that impact life outcomes. To address these disparities, a network of community members and stakeholders from public and private sectors are working together to remove roadblocks for economic and social mobility. Known as the Rocky Mountain Partnership (RMP), this partnership seeks to change the status quo through their strong cross-sector relationships and ability to bring community members and partners together to drive change. These collaborative efforts are advancing equitable futures for youth and families in the region.
This work has earned the network member the Systems Change designation along the StriveTogether Theory of Action™. In the north metro region of Colorado, this means their partnership is shifting policies, practices, resources and power structures to include underestimated community members who have not traditionally been involved in decision making to ensure the success of every young person, from cradle to career. This impactful work is highlighted in three of their efforts: housing, the opioid crisis and their innovative Civic Influencer initiative.
A holistic approach to address housing needs
Rocky Mountain Partnership’s commitment to addressing the multiple, interconnected factors that stand in the way of equitable outcomes — also known as systems indicators — is evident in their multifaceted approach to the community’s housing needs. Leveraging their response to the COVID-19 crisis, RMP facilitated the Adams County Housing Stability Response and Recovery Team, enabling housing stability during the pandemic’s peak.
One initiative underway is the Regional Housing Roundtable, a forum that brings together local communities, housing authorities, developers, decision-makers and more. This roundtable was established to align housing efforts across geographic boundaries. For instance, in 2022, the Roundtable hosted knowledge-sharing sessions with elected officials from across the region around what localities would be required to commit to in order to receive funds through the State Affordable Housing Fund. This fund was created by Proposition 123, a ballot initiative that passed in 2022 aimed at increasing the number of affordable housing units.
These knowledge-sharing sessions helped mitigate confusion among local partners about the fund by equipping them with comprehensive data and information on the region’s housing needs and the requirements of the fund, sourced directly from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (the agency responsible for implementing the fund).
RMP collaborated with Enterprise Community Partners to conduct a Housing and Education Readiness Assessment to better understand needs in these areas and identify recommendations and collaborative projects that could improve outcomes for youth and families. The insights gleaned from the readiness assessment played a pivotal role in recognizing a program in Brighton, Colorado as a scalable best practice for coordinating how housing and education services better reach youth and adults where they live, learn and work. This model, initiated by Brighton Housing Authority and 27J Schools, aimed to combat pandemic learning losses by providing academic support services on site at affordable housing communities. RMP scaled this model by bringing their region’s largest school district, housing authority and other service providers together to identify how services could better reach housing-insecure youth on site at district facilities and housing authority communities.
Maximizing the impact of regional dollars to tackle the opioid crisis
Recognizing the devastating impact of the opioid crisis, RMP has taken substantial steps to address this challenge in their region. RMP provides data, facilitation and project management support to the Adams County Opioid Regional Council, which maximizes the influence and reach of litigation settlement funding by bringing influential leaders and decision makers together. In its first cycle of funding, the Council leveraged data and feedback from the community to distribute $2.6 million to projects aimed at abating the opioid crisis within the region. This work inspired refinements to the second cycle of funding (approximately $6.8 million), and this funding model has been replicated to inform the distribution of $4.3 million dollars earmarked to support survivors of domestic violence in Adams County.
The Adams County Opioid Abatement Grant process prioritizes data-driven decision making in funding allocation, emphasizing both regional data and community feedback, to understand where the greatest needs and gaps are. This innovative approach departs from traditional methods, focusing on programs with tangible outcomes and incorporating real-time performance metrics. By leveraging data and community feedback at every step, RMP aims to collaboratively address the opioid crisis’s impact on life outcomes for all youth and families in the region.
Empowering Civic Influencers for youth-led change
Rocky Mountain Partnership has additionally empowered local youth to become Civic Influencers, catalysts for positive change in their communities. RMP’s Civic Influencers, a model initiated in 2022, are strategically supporting school districts in Colorado to pass crucial measures, securing essential funding for education and ensuring that youth voice is a key driver in implementing strategies for equitable futures.
RMP’s approach involves engaging and training youth to become influencers capable of effecting positive changes in areas that directly impact them, including policy. The prime example of the Civic Influencers’ success was the passage of a historic mill levy override in the 27J school district. This victory, resulting in an annual allocation of $17.7+ million, directly impacts over 20,000 students, especially those from communities of color and those experiencing poverty.
Leveraging this success and the insights gained, RMP has fine-tuned the model, creating a scalable framework that is poised for expansion across RMP, the region and the U.S. In a significant milestone, Westminster Public Schools became the first RMP partner to launch their own Civic Influencer network this year. They are compensating and supporting current students and recent alumni to collaborate with leadership and provide valuable insights into student needs and perspectives.
Rocky Mountain Partnership’s work showcases the transformative power of collaborative efforts. RMP is committed to the success of every young person, regardless of their background or circumstance, on their journey toward economic and social advancement. In alignment with StriveTogether’s 2030 North Star goal, RMP is working to ensure at least 71,000 more young people are hitting key milestones along that journey.
As they continue to convene cross-sector partners and engage the community, their story serves as a testament to the positive impact achievable through collective action, ensuring a brighter future for generations to come. Learn more about StriveTogether’s 2030 Strategic Plan to put 4 million more young people on a path to economic mobility.