Building pathways to success for families through
long-term systemic solutions
Mile High United Way believes that a community and a country can only succeed when we are united, and when every individual receives the opportunities they need to thrive. However, complex economic policies, systemic racism, education disparities, power imbalances, and other societal challenges can constrain this vision.
Our policy work centers on addressing the systems that create barriers for historically marginalized groups, such as BIPOC (black, Indigenous and people of color), women, foster youth, rural residents, and people with low incomes (below 300% Federal Poverty Guidelines).
Policy That Prioritizes Equity
We use an equity lens to remove barriers and create pathways to success for children, youth, and families. Our Policy & Equity Guide is used to determine how successfully a bill or ballot measure applies an equity lens. Watch the video or view the guide to learn more about our policy work.
Our Policy Strategies
At the local, state, and federal levels, we work to support measures that advance our mission and goals.
What we accomplished in 2023:
HB23-1091 extends the Colorado Child Care Contribution Tax Credit (CCTC) for three years. For 25 years, the CCTC has been a key driver of child care funding in our state. The CCTC allows a 50% tax credit up to $100,000 to taxpayers who contribute to child care, foster care, youth shelters, residential treatment centers, before- and after-school programming and grant programs to help families afford child care outside of school hours.
Why It Matters:
Research shows quality child care supports growth and development, helping children succeed in school and beyond. In addition, reliable, affordable and flexible child care allows parents to work and provide for their families, and contributes to the growth of our economy.
“All Colorado residents benefit from a strong child care system. The CCTC improves financial stability for child care providers, keeps rates affordable for families, incentivizes philanthropic giving and supports a thriving Colorado economy through a two-generation strategy of ensuring parents can work knowing their children are in a safe learning environment,” said Roweena Naidoo, Mile High United Way’s vice president of policy and community initiatives.
SB23-082 provides additional housing vouchers and case management support for young people aging out of the child welfare system. About a third of former foster children who emancipate from the system experience homelessness by the time they turn 26 years old. An estimated 20% become homeless upon turning 18. Not all federal and state voucher programs have enough slots for these young adults. Others are not geared toward former foster children.
Why It Matters:
When young adults have a safe, stable place to live, they can turn their time and focus on pursuing education and career opportunities, caring for their families and moving toward economic stability. Last year, we supported almost 140 young people transitioning out of the child welfare system through our Bridging the Gap program, providing access to housing vouchers and other wraparound supports.
“I’ve had my voucher for almost six years now, and it has given me a new chance at life. Since being in a stable living situation … I’ve gotten reinvolved with the programs that are guiding me to the career that I want to be in: foster care emancipation advocacy.”
— Shelby, a Bridging the Gap participant, during her testimony before the Colorado State Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
What We Accomplished in 2022:
HB22-1315 provides $1 million in ongoing annual funding for the Colorado 211 Collaborative. 211 is a multilingual and confidential service that connects individuals to critical resources including affordable housing, rental and security deposit assistance, utility assistance, food resources, legal services, medical services, and so much more. The 211 database contains more than 7,000 health and human resources and is updated daily to help community members meet basic needs.
Why it matters:
Last year, 211 received over 100,000 calls from our neighbors needing help and support. The top needs for families are rental and utility assistance, income support assistance, access to food resources, and housing/shelter support.
“Knowing where to go for help can be difficult and overwhelming. Funding for 211 Colorado will help connect Coloradans across the state to local community resources. Our community needs to be connected to these resources. In addition to state general funds, Colorado’s 211 budget will be funded with over $3 million in foundation and individual contributions creating a sustainable public-private partnership.” – Wade Treichler, Chief Operations Officer, Mile High United Way
SB22-008 will provide much-needed post-secondary financial aid to students who have been in foster care or noncertified kinship care.
Why it matters:
36% of former foster youth have experienced homelessness at least once by age 26. Today, we can rewrite the story for these young adults by increasing their access to education and career development to ensure their economic stability.
Early evidence suggests that foster students who receive financial assistance for post-secondary education are 3.5 times more likely to graduate college than those who do not.
Colorado was one of just 15 states that does not provide state tuition support to foster youth. This additional financial aid will help hundreds more Colorado students access college or post-secondary training programs.
SB22-213 provides funding for a variety of early childhood programs and creates an advisory group and training program for family, friend, and neighbor providers. The total funding is $50 million from federal pandemic relief funds and $50 million from the federal Child Care Development Block Grant.
The money will be appropriated as follows:
- Employer-Based Child Care ($10 million): This program works alongside employers to design and construct childcare facilities on- or near-site to its employees
- Emerging & Expanding Child Care ($16 million): Eligible childcare programs can apply for grants for expenses to expand the number of slots or the opening of a new program, with a specific focus on investing in areas of the state considered childcare deserts, along with the supports to navigate renovations and/or facility improvements.
- Family, Friend, & Neighbor (FFN) Training ($7.5 million): More than half of young children in Colorado are cared for by this critical part of the childcare community, known as “FFN.” This strategy will scale research- and community-informed training programs, and create connections to workforce opportunities and critical resources.
- Early Childhood Recruitment & Retention ($15 million): This program provides grants and scholarships to early childhood professionals across early care and education, home visiting, early intervention, and mental health consultation.
- Home Visiting for Early Learning ($1 million): Creates the Home Visiting for Early Learning grant program.
Why it matters:
This bill supports our state’s childcare workforce. It also expands care for Colorado children, which helps families return to the workforce while providing safe, high-quality spaces for our youngest learners.
HB22-1001: Reduce fees for Business Filings
HB22-1002 Fifth Year High School Concurrent Enrollment
HB22-1006: Child Care Center Property Tax Exemption
HB22-1010 Early Childhood Educator Income Tax Credit
HB22-1052 Promoting Crisis Services to Students
HB22—1055 Sales Tax Exemption Essential Hygiene Products
HB22-1102: Veterans and Military Status in Fair Housing
HB22-1192: Effective Date of Department of Early Childhood
HB22-1295 Department of Early Childhood and Universal Preschool Program
SB22-182 Economic Mobility Program
We advocated for several statewide and local issues on the 2022 ballot:
Support: Proposition FF – Healthy School Meals for all Children
Support: Proposition GG – Add Tax Information Table to Petitions and Ballots
Oppose: Proposition 121 – State Income Tax Reduction
Support: Proposition 123 – Make Colorado Affordable
Support: Amendment E – Homestead Exemption to Surviving Spouses of US Armed Forces Members and Veterans
Boulder County and Boulder Valley School District Ballot:
Support: Boulder Issue 6C – Proposed Public Library District
Support: Boulder Valley School District Bond and Mill Levy
City and County of Denver Ballot:
Support: Denver Library Property Tax
Support: Douglas County School Board Bond and Mill Levy
Join Our Action Network
Sign up to receive the latest policy updates right to your inbox.
Join a ‘Brave Spaces’ Session
Brave Spaces is our virtual event series where we host leaders in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to share their insights on social justice issues.
Share Your Expertise
What do you think are the top issues facing our state? What are the solutions we need to explore to improve life in Colorado? We want to hear from you!
From connecting families to quality early childhood education and supporting migrant families to helping middle- and low-income residents access valuable tax credits, we are working toward a brighter future for all Coloradans.
During the 2023 Colorado State Legislative Session, Mile High United Way is supporting two bills that align with our community priorities, House Bill 23-1091 and Senate Bill 23-082.
Read about the impact these laws will have on Mile High United Way programs and throughout our Colorado communities.
By Stephanie Sanchez, Senior Director of 211 Colorado on the impact of HB22-1315.
By Roweena Naidoo and Elliot Goldbaum While we work to put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to keep doing everything we can to support people who have
Roweena Naidoo, Vice President, Policy and Community Initiatives, shares how Mile High United Way is evolving to create greater equity in our community.