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211 Colorado: Answering the Call for 20 Years


"Willie helped me with an extremely critical experience after surgery…I was so nervous and stressed. He was the kindest, most intelligent, professional and yet completely compassionate person I have ever met…I want to thank (Willie), and I want to thank everyone at the 211 service for the extraordinary work you do…I am forever grateful for having Willie pick up the phone for me today. It’s absolutely a miracle.”

Every day, compassionate 211 Community Resource Navigators, like Willie, support residents who need help getting through unexpected circumstances.

Mile High United Way is part of the 211 Colorado Collaborative. 211 Colorado is a confidential and multilingual service connecting people to vital resources across the state. Our database contains more than 7,000 resources for critical needs like housing, food assistance, transportation, childcare and more. 211 staff members listen to each caller’s unique needs and then connect them to the resources that best meet their needs, closest to them.

February 11 marks 211 Day for all United Ways across the United States. This year, we celebrate 211 Colorado’s 20th anniversary, and how 211 has adapted to meet the emerging needs of our community.

In recent years Mile High United Way’s 211 Help Center has supported our Metro Denver community during some of our most challenging times – the COVID-19 pandemic, the Marshall Fires in Boulder County and the influx of migrant families from Afghanistan, Ukraine and Central and South America.

“Our staff does so much more than answer the phones. 211 Community Resource Navigators support residents from all backgrounds. Whether a person is contacting us seeking help for themselves, a friend, a family member or even a stranger, we listen to their concerns and work with them to find the right solution to meet their most critical needs,” said Kasey Harlos, 211’s senior director.

In 2022, our 211 Help Center received more than 114,000 requests for help via call, text, chat or in-person services from community members, like Cheryl. The most common requests were for rental payment assistance, food or meals and utility assistance.

Child care assistance was another top request last year. Our 211 Help Center operates the Colorado Shines Child Care Referral Line for the entire state, providing licensed child care providers in the area of a caller’s request, as well as consumer education about how to recognize and select quality care. In 2022, we provided nearly 3,000 child care and education resources to families.

Below are more highlights of our impact in the community over the past year:

  • Legislative Wins: In May, the in annual funding that helps guarantee all Coloradans are connected to basic needs support for years to come. Mile High United Way championed the bill, which passed with bipartisan support. Governor Jared Polis signed the bill into law at our building, noting the critical value 211 provides across the state.

“Coloradans can rest assured that, wherever they are, if they dial three simple numbers – 2-1-1 – they get confidential connections to the support they need."

  • Supporting New Arrivals: In late 2022, our 211 team was activated to support hundreds of arriving migrants and refugees from Central and South America seeking a fresh start in Denver. Resource navigators provided more than 1,300 referrals to refugees, migrants, caseworkers and immigration agencies.


  • Increasing In-Person Outreach: We recognize barriers may exist that prevent people from calling, emailing, texting or visiting 211’s website to receive assistance. To better serve our community, Community Resource Navigators regularly attend community events. In the last year, 211 staff provided resources directly to families at our Children’s Holiday Party, the Early Childhood Education Council, Thornton Active Adult Resource Fair, Weld County Project Connect, Mile High United Way and more!

“A gentleman asked for resources, informing us that he was a veteran. We gave him and his family resources for Christmas gifts, rent, utilities and Thanksgiving baskets. I sent them all to him through his email right then and there.”

  • Disaster Response and Support: Following the devastating Marshall Fire in Boulder County, our 211 disaster response team worked on-site at the Disaster Assistance Center, connecting impacted residents to the resources they needed. Our 211 community resource navigators also reached out to 1,500 people and helped connect families to long-term support in partnership with Lutheran Family Services.


  • Adapting Roles to Support Callers: Our 211 Help Center added three new roles to ensure accuracy, accessibility and continued growth in every interaction we have with callers. These additional staff members help implement best practices, support technology accessibility and increase equity.


  • Supporting Health Care in Our Region: Last year, we started a new community partnership with Centura Health, Colorado’s largest health care system. Health care providers can access the 211 Help Center’s resource database directly within Centura’s health records system, embedding referral resources for financial assistance, transportation and more into the patient’s treatment portal. “We want to get these resources into the hands of people who need them. If that can be coordinated with care providers in the state’s largest hospital system, that’s even better.” – Wade Treichler, Chief Operations Officer


The needs of our community are constantly evolving. Our 211 Help Center helps us stay informed on the emerging needs of our community, allowing us to quickly pivot and connect families to the help they need.

Whether helping families put food on the table, secure stable housing or obtain reliable transportation, Mile High United Way’s 211 Help Center is here to answer the call.