Unprecedented federal aid presents a unique opportunity
The state of Colorado is set to receive an unprecedented $6 billion in federal aid aimed at recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. State and local governments will have an influx of resources to distribute and use for the betterment of their communities. At his juncture, we are faced with an invaluable opportunity; one that cannot be squandered. We can make recovery equitable. Colorado must invest this federal aid strategically so communities of color and working families are not left behind in the recovery plan. No amount of funding will alleviate the inequities present prior to the pandemic if said funding is not distributed in purposeful, intelligent, and innovative ways.
At Voces Unidas, we believe that the state and local governments should allocate strategic funding to support the infrastructure of nonprofits, especially organizations serving communities of color and working families. Community-based organizations have been key in providing aid and filling in gaps in communities across the state and across the country during the pandemic. Voces Unidas and many organizations in the valley were no exception.
Colorado has an opportunity to do things differently. The amount of one-time federal and state funding designated for recovery is unprecedented. But if we invest in the same manner as we’ve done for generations, where inequities arise and are exacerbated, then we should expect the same results in disenfranchised communities to persist. We simply cannot build back better by reverting to the same system that accelerated economic, social and health inequities during the pandemic.
At the height of the pandemic, the state and local governments relied on many local, trusted nonprofits, led by people of color, to provide direct aid, promote health and safety protocols and literally vaccinate the communities being left behind by the ecosystem. If the State of Colorado wants to build back better, it must be done with the help of nonprofits. Investing in nonprofit infrastructure allows for personalized supports to fit the needs of a community.
We’ve worked with more than 70 Latino-created, Latino-led or Latino-serving organizations across Colorado to advocate for more intentional investments in the Latino community, including participating in focus groups with the state and meetings directly with the Governor and lawmakers. At every step of the pandemic, from its start to its recovery, we’ve been advocating and informing in every major decision -- from response efforts to direct aid to vaccinations and to long-term recovery. This level of involvement we view as necessary as we believe this opportunity to invest differently cannot go to waste.
We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build back with equity, new strategies and with more intentionality to ensure that Latinos and working families all across Colorado can thrive in more equitable communities. We expect the state and local governments to do what is right by investing these one-time resources in new strategic ways.