2011: The Year in Review

Thanks to Citizens Project’s inspired leadership, our volunteers, interns, collaborators, supporters and activists, 2011 was an incredible year! Below are just a few of the things we were able to accomplish with your help:

Awards

Citizens Project received several honors over the last year including: the Gay & Lesbian Fund Advancing Equality Award, “Ally of the Year” from the Colorado Springs Pride Center, and the “Steady and Strong for Diversity and Inclusion” award from the Colorado Springs Diversity Forum.

Events

Citizens Project events are more than fundraisers or friend-raisers; they’re community in action, bringing together people from across the region and across political and religious lines who share a few key values: equality, separation of church and state, diversity and civic engagement.

– More than 100 community members came out in sub-zero temperatures to honor local activist Mary Ellen McNally at Citizens Project’s 7th annual Divine Award Celebration.

– Four hundred attendees at our annual Creating  Community Breakfast joined together to raise $60,000 to increase Citizens Project’s impact in the community.

– Dozens of volunteers attended our twice-annual volunteer open house and staffed the Citizens Project booth at community events such as Everybody Welcome!, Juneteenth, Cinco de Mayo, and Pride Fest.

Collaboration

CP, in close collaboration with the Women’s Resource Agency, Inside/Out Youth Services and many more, worked to re-invigorate the Pikes Peak Equality Coalition, a group of local nonprofits dedicated to opportunity and access for all community members. Through our collective efforts, we made more than 3,000 contacts with voters in the general election cycle, reminding them to cast their ballots. In addition, CP was represented on the Public Affairs and Government Relations Committee of the Colorado Springs Diversity Forum, the Colorado Civic Engagement Roundtable, and the Safe Schools Coalition.  Citizens Project staff members Kristy Milligan and RoMa Johnson also  presented at events and classes statewide, including: Center for Nonprofit Excellence, UCCS, El Pomar, NAACP, and the Denver Mayor’s LGBT Commission. Citizens Project also donated 18 cubic feet of physical archive files to the Pikes Peak Library District’s Special Collections. The archives will be available to the the public and will be preserved for future generations.

Voter Education

2011 was an exciting year in local elections: from the April municipal election and subsequent mayoral runoff election, to the November general election, there were many candidates vying for the votes of Pikes Peak residents.  And Citizens Project continued our 19-year tradition of providing nonpartisan election education information for all local elections through well-attended Mayoral and City Council forums, and a School Board Candidate and ballot measure forum. In addition, we published two comprehensive candidate survey Voter Guides, one for the municipal election and one for the general election, which were distributed to more than 100,000 people in the Pikes Peak region through our website, a mailing to our supporters, and inclusion in the Colorado Springs Independent.

Promoting Dialogue & Awareness

Citizens Project distributed our electronic monthly Freedom Watch Online to more than 2,000 subscribers, providing them with in-depth analyses of local and national issues, opportunities to get involved, and more. Through our electronic Action Network, we sent 1,500 activists up-to-the-minute updates about pending legislation and electoral initiatives with information about how to make a positive impact on public policy.

Again this year, Citizens Project deployed an awareness campaign to stimulate conversation and tackle some of the most difficult issues facing our community. The campaign appeared in print, online, and on billboards, and it continues to create robust discussion on our blog.

CP also worked with a coalition of twenty five diverse faith and civic groups to present a special film screening to commemorate 9/11.

Creating Inclusive Learning Communities

Our second annual Citizens’ Religious Freedom Institute, a one-day seminar for teachers, administrators, students and community members on how the courts have interpreted church/state separation in public schools and how to promote religious freedom in the classroom, was well-attended and highly rated by participants. Many attendees received graduate credit or contact hours, and, as one participant said, it was a “very enjoyable, informative day.”

Again in 2011, Citizens Project mailed the Anti-Defamation League’s December Dilemma publication to 200 local schools, which contains information about inclusive holiday practices. This year we also worked with Inside/Out and the Safe @School Coalition to provide a primer on recently-passed HB1254, which expands protection from bullying to LGBT students. Additionally, we followed up with several high schools that held their graduation ceremonies at churches to help ensure future commencement celebrations that honor the unique faith traditions of all students, and comply with legal precedent regarding separation of church and state.

All of this was work to advance religious freedom, diversity, equality and civic engagement in the Pikes Peak region was possible because of the hundreds of active supporters, just like you, who gave time, money, energy and vision to help Citizens Project put our mission into motion. Thank you – and we’ll see you in 2012!


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