Our partners in Colorado Springs recently received a $75,000 grant from the BUILD Health Challenge, a national awards program.

03ebb1656b8d7eafb9ed8599535fe50cThe grant recipient is Project ACCESS, a collaboration between LiveWell Colorado Springs, YMCA of Pikes Peak Region, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, El Paso County Public Health, Colorado Community Center Collaborative, Youth Violence Prevention (YVP) Initiative, Community Care of Central Colorado, Peak Vista Community Health Centers, and Kaiser Permanente. Project ACCESS targets barriers to services, health care and safe environments in Southeast Colorado Springs, an area struggling with rising poverty levels, high unemployment and violence. “We’ve worked with each of the partners over years, so when this opportunity came up it was a natural fit,” says Mina Liebert, Community Coordinator for LiveWell Colorado Springs. “Working together allows us to tackle more broad issues that the individual organizations couldn’t address on their own,” she adds.

Southeast Colorado Springs experiences significant disparities in access to crucial services; there are no primary care providers and very few organizations serving the community’s needs. As a result, residents suffer from high rates of obesity, chronic illness, untreated pain issues, substance abuse, and mental illness. The collaboration seeks to improve neighborhood safety and reduce exposure to violence among youth and families. Its goals include gathering current data and research, engaging the community, and mobilizing residents to create lasting change in the community.

“The most important thing [for the project] is being able to actually engage the community with these efforts,” Liebert says. “We’ve struggled to gain the community voice—so far there has been little resident participation in the conversations about their community. This planning grant and initial assessment will help move us toward the integrated community investment we need if we’re going to truly address the challenges here,” she says, adding, “We want to make sure we’re doing this with—not to—the community.”