First year of Colorado racial equity study funded by community donors • Colorado Newsline
First year of Colorado racial equity study funded by community donors • Colorado Newsline

Supporters of a new state law requiring a racial equity study have raised enough money to fund the first year of work.

A combination of individuals, foundations and corporate donors donated the $785,000 needed to fund the first phase of the study, Democratic Sen. James Coleman of Denver told Colorado Newsline.

Colorado Public Radio first reported on the funding success.

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The total financial outlay is about $1.8 million for three years of work. Coleman hopes this success — and the work that goes with it — will provide momentum for further fundraising.

“In the culture I come from, we don’t get excited until the work is done,” he said. “We celebrate small victories … and I’m grateful for what we’ve done. The work isn’t done yet.”

Senate Bill 24-53 establishes a commission to oversee a History Colorado study that examines how racism has created inequality in Colorado in areas such as housing, economic mobility, education, health care and the criminal justice system. Ultimately, the group will make legislative proposals based on the study’s data and findings.

The 14-member commission, which includes people with diverse expertise appointed by legislative leadership and Governor Jared Polis, must begin meeting in September.

“The results will be dedicated to the black community, but ultimately everyone will benefit,” Coleman said, describing the areas studied as “poverty issues” that affect groups across racial lines.

The bill was not funded with state funds. Instead, the study is funded by community donors. This money is donated directly to the Collaborative Healing Initiative group within the communities and then goes into the state coffers to fund the work.

Coleman said donors to the first round of funds included the Denver Foundation, the Colorado Health Foundation, the Black Resilience in Colorado Community Fund and Gary Community Ventures.

“It was a real blessing to have so much support, but then there are individuals who really matched every penny to make sure the project crossed the finish line,” Coleman said.

By Everly