LiveWell Colorado Year in Review: 17 Highlights from 2017

To say 2017 has been an eventful year would probably be a grand understatement. As an organization striving to increase access to healthy eating and active living by removing barriers that inequitably and disproportionately affect low-income communities and people of color, we at LiveWell, like all who work in this realm, have struggled with the political and social climate that has taken hold over the past year. At the same time, we are grateful for the unifying work and accomplishments we have been able to achieve thanks to the tenacious work of LiveWell’s staff and board, and our many wonderful partners throughout the state. Ultimately, we define success in how we elevate the efforts of others, effectively build the capacity of our partners, and authentically engage low-income communities and people of color toward removing barriers to healthy food and physical activity. Here, we share 17 highlights from 2017 that remind us we have a lot to be proud of—and yes, a lot more work ahead—at LiveWell.

17 highlights from LiveWell’s work in 2017:

  • In early 2017 and throughout the year, LiveWell took important steps to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to health equity. Olga González, who has been with LiveWell since 2015, accepted the newly created position of Director of Equity and Inclusion. In this capacity, Olga played a significant role in informing and guiding LiveWell’s evolved mission, vision, and values statements. Learn more about the Director of Equity and Inclusion in this post from February 2017, in which Olga provides a powerful perspective on political events at that time. Olga was also instrumental in planning and conducting several all-staff professional development trainings around implicit bias, race, racism, and poverty throughout the year for LiveWell staff and partner organizations (read more about our Implicit Bias workshop here).
  • In April, another successful LiveWell Colorado Day at the Capitol event was held. Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran (pictured above) and Senator Don Coram received LiveWell’s 2017 Legislative Excellence Awards, which recognize legislators who went above and beyond to address barriers to healthy eating and active living in their communities. Read more highlights from the event in this post: Speaker Duran, Senator Coram, and Community Champions Honored at LiveWell’s Annual Day of Advocacy.
  • Throughout the 2017 legislative session, LiveWell actively supported a legislative measure to help bridge the gap between Colorado’s transportation needs (including biking and walking infrastructure) and transportation funding. Even though the measure failed to pass in 2017, LiveWell remains optimistic that Colorado voters will support funding changes on the ballot in 2018. Read more: Legislature Fails to Find Funding Fix for Roads.
  • In the fall, as LiveWell’s School Food Initiative team jumped headfirst into the 2017-2018 school year, it was remarkable to witness organizations across the state coming together to strengthen the work of Colorado’s school food leaders. Check out this blog by Rainey Wikstrom, Marketing Consultant for LiveWell’s School Food Initiative, in which she talks about the value of partnerships, marketing, and culinary support for school food success in East Grand and beyond.
  • On October 10, LiveWell hosted its annual Engage in the Change fundraising luncheon. Hundreds of community members, partners, funders, and allies sat in a room together, shared a meal, and were inspired to take action around a common goal – creating equitable access to healthy food and active living for ALL Coloradans. We had the privilege of hearing from Ron Finley, who kicked off his presentation with a poem of his own creation. Read more and watch the video that premiered at the event: Highlights from LiveWell’s 2017 Engage in the Change Luncheon.
  • HEAL-Colorado Springs-Mayor bike rideIn October, the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign awarded mini-grants to five HEAL cities/towns. The HEAL Cities & Towns Small Grants Program provided a total of just over $22,000 to the five municipalities. A total of 11 proposals were submitted, with asks of over $47,000. All 11 proposals were solid and it was difficult for the review team to narrow the proposals to our five recipients. The grants were limited to a maximum of $5,000 and the municipality had to provide a 50 percent match. Small grants were awarded to: the town of Dillon for a community garden on Town Hall property; the city of Leadville to improve pedestrian safety through a Rapid Flash Beacon and additional signage; the town of Frederick to install fitness stations in alignment with their HEAL goal to increase access to active living; the city of Northglenn to purchase and install additional bike racks and a bike repair station; and the city of Colorado Springs to create maps and signage and to do community outreach to activate the bike/pedestrian path on the south side of town.
  • In November, a multi-year policy partnership culminated successfully when Denver voters approved a citywide bond package that included dedicated funding for a new rec center in the Westwood neighborhood. Having identified both the problem and solution, the community organized to accomplish its goal, and LiveWell was able to support the efforts by coaching community members on how to most effectively engage with the city and also advocating directly to city leaders on their behalf. Read more: Westwood Residents Make Big Push to Improve Recreation Opportunities.
  • In November, LiveWell released the year one (2016) Double Up Food Bucks evaluation report. This report highlights primary outcomes for Double Up Food Bucks customers as well as participating farmers. Read more: Double Up Food Bucks Colorado Report Now Available.
  • In November, LiveWell announced its new Community Food Advocates initiative, which enlists SNAP recipients and other community members in efforts to increase participation in LiveWell’s Double Up Food Bucks program to help improve access to affordable healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables for low-income Coloradans. Read more: LiveWell Announces New Double Up Food Bucks Community Food Advocates Program.
  • On November 30 and December 1, LiveWell hosted another successful HEAL Summit. More than 150 participants convened in Denver for the Summit. Through breakout sessions, flash presentations, and keynote addresses, leaders from throughout Colorado—including individuals from municipalities, public health organizations, nonprofits, the private sector, and the philanthropic community—gathered to share expertise, challenges, and exciting new developments regarding HEAL. Read more and watch video interviews with our keynote speakers: Highlights from LiveWell’s 2017 HEAL Summit.