Earlier this year we asked you, our loyal friends and supporters, to give us feedback about our work and impact. Thanks to the participation of 100 Citizens Project supporters, we learned a lot about our organization, including our strengths and our challenges. One of the opportunities for growth we identified was communication: we learned that we could be doing a better job of keeping you posted on all our programs and successes. To that end, we happily present this mid-year report of exactly what Citizens Project has been up to:
- Collaborating with the Pikes Peak Equality Coalition: On February 14, we worked closely with member organizations of PPEC to produce #IHeartCOS, an awareness-raising campaign that highlighted the positive things in our community. There’s more in store for the #IHeartCOS campaign, so stay tuned!
- Tackling voting from the ground up:
- On the ground: We’re working in collaboration with the Pikes Peak Equality Coalition to galvanize more underrepresented voters than ever before in the Pikes Peak region. For each election, we send postcards, make phone calls and knock on doors to make sure people connect with their communities and support their values by casting their ballots. We’ve reached out to about 1,200 voters each year and we’ve seen a steady increase in participation rates among traditionally marginalized voters.
- At the local level: As always, you can count on us to conduct comprehensive election education activities for all local elections including voter guides and forums.
- At the municipal policy level: In the last two years, we’ve participated in civic collaborations that have successfully advanced improvements in campaign finance code and a more robust, public process for city council redistricting. We’ve recently conducted a series of seven community meetings to gather public input on potential reforms to our city’s election code and are preparing to present what we heard from the community to City Council.
- At the county level: Over the last several years, we’ve met with the El Paso County Elections Department frequently to help ensure implementation of policies and practices that enhance access for voters. As a result of our efforts, more of the polling places in El Paso County are secular locations, and we continue to advocate for voting sites that are in close proximity to public transportation.
- At the state level: We monitor the state legislature and rally 1,500 activists in the Pikes Peak region in support of initiatives that enhance voting access, such as the 2013 Modernized Voting and Elections Act, which – among other things – created “one stop shops” for all voting needs and allowed for same-day voter registration and registration changes.
- Supporting partner organizations in infrastructure and governance development: Earlier this year, we provided office space, fundraising support, governance support and transition support to our friends at Inside/Out Youth services. We’re delighted to report that they have a new home; a new, committed board of directors; a new executive director; and a stable funding base!
- Co-sponsoring community-creating programs with partners: Collaborations over the last few months include: Americans United’s “Diversity We’re Defending” series, Food for Thought’s “Mental Health Begins with Me” conversations, the Independence Center’s “The Meaning of Disability” brownbag lunch, Center for Nonprofit Excellence’s Nonprofit Day, and PFLAG’s special program this week featuring Steven Chavez, Director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division.
- Elevating the conversation in Colorado Springs: Thanks to Lunchbucket Creative, Lamar Outdoor Advertising and the Colorado Springs Independent, we’ve deployed an awareness campaign designed to highlight the positive aspects of our community.
- Recognizing the contributions of leaders: This year we were delighted to honor June Waller at and Judy and Dick Noyes at our annual Divine Award celebration.
- Planning our annual Creating Community Breakfast: Thanks to the hard work of our committee, table captains, and speakers, this year’s event is sure to delight and inspire you! Please RSVP today!
- Facilitating local collaboration: We currently serve on the Safe @ School Coalition, the Diversity Forum’s Public Affairs and Government Relations Committee, and the UCCS Center for Religious Diversity Advisory Committee.
- Revitalizing our volunteer program: We are in the process of a volunteer audit, which will help us to better support our incredible volunteers and provide meaningful opportunities for those wishing to get more involved!
- Speaking out on key issues and expanding awareness of Citizens Project: Over the last few months, we’ve appeared on the KRCC fund drive, on KGNU, in the Cheyenne & Woodmen Editions, and on the Colorado Springs Independent and Gazette Blogs.
- Monitoring statewide legislation & taking stands on issues: Citizens Project took several positions this year during the state legislative session. All the bills we opposed (SB 71, SB 74, SB 79, SB 141, HB 1043 and HB 1128) ultimately failed, and many of the bills we supported were signed into law. Successful bills included: a wage fairness bill (SB 5), a civil unions loophole-closing bill (SB 19), a recall election bill requiring adherence to state election guidelines (SB 158), updates to election code (SB 161), and a bill requiring special districts to comply with some state laws for elections (HB 1164).
- Tracking local policy and notifying activists of opportunities to get involved: In recent months, Citizens Project has supported an ordinance establishing a “leadership pipeline” for underrepresented groups in municipal boards and commissions and a collaborative effort to enhance public transportation.
All this equality-building, community-creating work is made possible through your support and feedback! Please share your thoughts with us on a regular basis, and let us know if there are opportunities to advance diversity, equality, religious freedom and civic engagement in the beautiful Pikes Peak region.