June 1, 2021
Additional $1.7 Million in Funding Ramps Up Colorado’s Vaccination Ground Game
COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Support by Colorado Funders Tops $4.2 Million
(Denver, CO) – With recent polling showing that some people in the U.S. who remain unvaccinated need help to take the final step toward vaccination, Colorado funders today announced additional support for on-the-ground efforts in communities across the state to increase COVID-19 vaccination levels and to ensure equitable access to the vaccination. The 39 additional community-based organizations receiving grants are using an array of personalized approaches to answer questions, increase understanding about COVID-19 and the vaccine, and make it easy for more Coloradans to get vaccinated. Personalized outreach efforts to underserved communities and communities of color include door-to-door canvassing, engaging promotoras, providing translation and transportation, and having a presence in trusted community spaces such as churches.
The $1.7 million in funding builds on a first round of more than $2.5 million in grants, supporting a total of 88 community-based organizations statewide. The funding is provided by Together We Protect, a partnership of Immunize Colorado, Colorado Vaccine Equity Taskforce, and 14 funders (listed below) that came together to create Colorado’s COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Fund.
“With an ample supply of the COVID-19 vaccine and all Colorado residents 12 years of age and older now eligible to receive the vaccine, we know it is critical at this point that we continue to push for greater equity,” said Stephanie Wasserman, executive director of Immunize Colorado. “Native people, Black, Latinx, LGBTQIA people, those living in rural communities, those experiencing homeless, people working front-line jobs, immigrants and many others are still left navigating a system that often presents barriers to their access. This funding makes it possible to more personally connect with these people and help break down the barriers whether they are rooted in systemic racism, limited health care facilities in their area or issues with time away from work. We know that when we have trusted community members helping their own communities, real progress happens.”
One of the grantees, Kids at their Best, a Morgan County-based nonprofit, is working across the community to remove barriers to vaccination including providing transportation and raising awareness about vaccine access across multiple counties in Colorado’s northeast. With one of Colorado’s largest immigrant populations and more than 10 percent of its residents living below the federal poverty level, the organization was already focused on using trusted community members to help make connections to health care and food, even before the pandemic hit. One of the major barriers the organization is tackling with the advent of the COVID-19 vaccines is misinformation about how the vaccine works as well as its safety.
“We know that when we are working in community, with trusted community members, that’s the best way to help people decide to take the vaccine and protect both themselves and the people they love,” said Jodi Walker, executive director of Kids at their Best. “We have to keep creating these safe spaces for questions to be asked and answered, information to be given and decisions to be made. This is critical if we want to start being together again in a safe way.”
Additional examples of organizations receiving grants include:
- San Luis Valley – The Communidad Unidos program of the Land Rights Council is deploying ‘vaccine ambassadors’ from the community who reach out to relatives, friends and community members to share their experiences, create conversation and provide spaces to help shift perceptions of the vaccine and encourage community or kinship arguments for getting the vaccine.
- In areas of Southwest and East Denver with low vaccination rates, Padres & Jóvenes Unidos has launched the “Our Barrio Gets Vaccinated” program, using neighborhood canvassing and social media to reach Latinx immigrants, young people, and monolingual Spanish-speaking adults with trusted messages addressing community vaccine hesitancy and links to local partner vaccination sites.
- Rural Northeastern Colorado – The Family Resource Center and Kids at their Best are reducing vaccination barriers and hesitancy by providing education, outreach, transportation assistance, and connection to vaccination opportunities.
- El Paso County – Voces Unidas for Justice is using tried and true outreach and engagement techniques through promotoras, including culturally-relevant messaging, door-to-door outreach, local neighborhood events, and providing transportation and other supports to get people vaccinated.
- Denver – The Shorter Community AME Church is partnering with UC Health, using the church as a natural ally to help church members, visitors and neighbors to overcome vaccine hesitancy and barriers to vaccine access for underserved communities and communities of color.
- Statewide – Soul 2 Soul Sisters is supporting conversations among Black women to address vaccine hesitancy among the Black community and increase access to the vaccine.
Together We Protect, Colorado’s COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Fund, supports organizations working in communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19 to ensure that people who face systemic barriers have the most appropriate and accessible information about the COVID-19 vaccine and can access the vaccine through low-barrier opportunities. Together We Protect is a partnership of Immunize Colorado, Colorado Vaccine Equity Taskforce, and these Colorado funders:
- Caring for Colorado Foundation
- Colorado Health Foundation
- Community First Foundation
- Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation
- Denver Foundation
- El Pomar Foundation
- Kaiser Permanente
- Latino Community Foundation of Colorado
- Next50 Initiative
- Rocky Mountain Health Foundation
- Rose Community Foundation
- Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation
Together We Protect is also proud to partner with Uber to distribute 21,000 free and discounted rides to Coloradans to reduce transportation barriers to accessing to a COVID-19 vaccine.