2018 Annual Report Denver Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships

A Note from the Executive Director

Dear Friends,

It is with great pride that the Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships shares this report of highlights from 2018, this glimpse into the important work dedicated agency staff accomplished with and on behalf of the Denver community throughout the year.

I am privileged to work each day with the most talented, creative and committed staff I have experienced in my professional career, people who truly understand that being a public servant means always keeping our residents as our focus. Mostly via the herculean efforts of a single individual, HRCP's 9 offices -- with another coming on board in 2019 -- work to ensure that our city's most vulnerable are heard, served and represented.

The agency houses 10 commissions formed of Mayoral appointees who volunteer as public servants. They dedicate hundreds of hours annually to advocate for members of our communities and develop strategies to ensure resident concerns are addressed at the highest levels of city leadership.

We are grateful to Mayor Michael B. Hancock for his ongoing support of the ideas and strategies that emerge from HRCP staff and commissions. He and his leadership team take the time to understand the issues at hand, any strategy recommended on behalf of community, and the rationale behind it, as well as how the work will be implemented and measured. He is always ready to lock arms and proclaim, “Let’s go!”

The HRCP team also includes other city department leadership and staff, nonprofit and business partners, and members of Denver's diverse communities. Their partnership in addressing the city's complex issues allows us all to achieve positive change.

As with all advocacy and community efforts, the work is never done. We look forward to joining forces with you all again in 2019 to continue our efforts on behalf of our cherished Denver community.

Here's to an exciting and productive 2019!


Derek Okubo, Executive Director

The Denver Agency for Human Rights & Community Partnerships (HRCP) is the umbrella agency for 9 (and soon to be 10 offices) and 10 commissions that endeavor to create a more just and equitable Denver.

Through advocacy, capacity building, collaboration, community engagement and direct services, we strive to generate lasting and positive change for Denver's residents.

We work to ensure that people from all corners of our community are empowered and supported with the innate knowledge that diverse perspectives, skills and resources strengthen the foundation for lasting solutions. We constantly work in partnership with community leaders and organizations on a wide variety of topics.

Commission Partnership Day 2018


Operating Budget: $1.4 million

Grants and nonprofit money distributed: $3 million

Staff Members: 22 full time. 3 contract.

Offices: 9 (Up to 10 in 2019)

Commissions: 10

Commissioners: 173

One of five pieces of artwork chosen for Healing As One

Office Highlights

Anti-Discrimination Office

  • Updated Denver Anti-Discrimination Ordinance language to conform to state statutes.
  • Drafted an ordinance (which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019) to protect against discriminatory acts in purchase and rental housing transactions based on source of income.

Office on Aging

  • Devised DenverConnect, a mobile office that will bring the information, services and resources older adults need to thrive into the communities where they live.
  • Completed phase one of Age Matters as part of the AARP Age-Friendly livable communities needs assessment.

Office of Community Affairs

  • Organized Healing As One, a project that asked youth from Arts Street, a creative industries training program, to envision the world they wanted to live in and to share those visions on billboards in the city.
  • Awarded $30,000 in Race and Justice Mini-grants to fund projects that create collaboration and build relationships between youth and law enforcement; foster neighborhood connectivity, inclusion and equality; and provide justice services and support for immigrant communities.
Bank on Denver training in New York City

Office of Disability Rights

  • Completed unprecedented negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice for the Project Civic Access Settlement Agreement, which required the submission of over 400 completed projects/tasks to the DOJ on the city's behalf and resulted in increased access to buildings, services, and programs, for people with disabilities in Denver.
  • Completed the record-breaking review of 855 site development plans.

Office of Financial Empowerment

  • In 2018, Bank on Denver opened 70 new bank accounts for clients who had never owned a bank account; provided 6 new business loans or lines of credit totaling $76,500 for client entrepreneurs; and established 18 new business checking accounts for clients.
  • Financial Empowerment Centers have helped clients create more than $4.5 million in new savings since 2013. And FEC's financial coaching has resulted in 60 families achieving the American Dream of home ownership each year since 2014.
40 new U.S. citizens from 18 countries take oaths of allegiance in City Council Chambers

Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

  • Launched the Denver Legal Services Fund to provide local nonprofits with resources for free legal services for immigrants in most need.
  • Distributed $18,000 in mini-grants to community groups who developed creative integration projects to bring immigrant and receiving communities together.

Office of Sign Language Services

  • Provided a record 3,100 sign language interpretation hours to residents seeking city services or interacting with city government.
  • Collaborated with Denver Arts and Venues and ImaginASL, a Deaf-owned nonprofit, to host more than 500 attendees at 2018 Deaf Heritage Month events.

Office of Strategic Partnerships

  • Provided $2 million in energy efficiency grants to Denver nonprofit organizations that went toward weatherization audits and energy efficiency upgrades for low-income Denver residents.
  • Helped direct and create an economic impact study of nonprofits in Colorado that showcased how 12,430 nonprofits in the Denver Metro Area contributed $20 billion in revenue and $13.2 billion in spending in 2017.

Office on Women and Families

  • Launched a Race & Social Justice Initiative to train City and County of Denver employees to identify racial disparities and provide them the tools to help improve city processes and systems in a manner that strives for racial equity across the city.
  • Initiated a formal racial equity research project with the University of California-Berkeley to find innovative, evidence-based practices to deliver better services to City and County of Denver residents.
2018 Mayor's Diversity and Inclusion Awards

Commission Highlights

African American Commission

  • Hosted first Economic Equity Summit, in which 50+ attendees learned from industry experts about entrepreneurship, home ownership and personal finance.
  • For the first time since its inception ten years ago, the commission enjoys a full roster of 21 appointees, which speaks to the excitement around the vital work the commission is doing in the community.

American Indian Commission

  • Planned the 2018 Mayor's Diversity and Inclusion Awards, with a "Confluence-Connection-Continuance" theme celebrating American Indian culture and Denver's unsung community heroes.
  • Hosted Confluence Week, a series of indigenous-focused events in the Denver metro area.

Asian American Pacific Islander Commission

Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Resource Fair

Commission on Aging

  • Updated commission bylaws.
  • Increased commissioner participation in Commission Partnership Day by 40 percent.

Commission for People with Disabilities

  • Generated the "H Campaign," a public service announcement encouraging people not to use the word "handicapped."
  • Created an Employment Resource Guide for people with disabilities.

Immigrant and Refugee Commission

  • Held community forums on two key topics in 2018: One on Housing Discrimination and the Source of Income ordinance and the other on proposed changes to federal Public Charge policies for immigrants.
  • Advocated for continued city funding of the Denver Legal Services Fund in 2019.

Latino Commission

LGBTQ Commission

  • Helped Denver achieve a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index.
  • Worked in partnership with the Mayor's Office and City Council to ban conversion therapy for youth at the local level.
Mayor Hancock, HRCP commissioners and staff celebrating Pride Day 2018

Women's Commission

  • Assisted in revising the Mayor’s Office Discrimination Harassment and Retaliation Policy and Office of Human Career Service Rules 16 and 18.
  • Formulated a strategic plan to launch the Denver Thrives When Women Thrive Guide, a tool to help employers work toward operationalizing industry-wide gender equity standards.

Strategic Partnerships Commission

  • Organized initiatives to create a "Mayor’s Fund" for Denver, which will allow public and private entities to collaborate on efforts to address the diverse needs of Denver’s varied communities and residents.
  • Shaped Funding and Contracting Effectiveness (formerly Efficiency) 2.0 to provide transparency and improve nonprofit contracting with the City and County of Denver.
Demographic map of those age 55+ in Denver

Data and Research

  • Developed demographic profiles for Denver's 78 neighborhoods that include information on gender, race/ethnicity, immigrant population, languages spoken, age, disability, education, and economics data such as median gross rent, poverty level and median household income.
  • Created 50+ demographic maps to assist government, nonprofit and business organizations in outreaching to Denver's various demographic groups.
6th Annual Denver Days

Also of Note

  • Coordinated 6th Annual Denver Days during the first week of August to encourage neighbors to get to know their neighbors by hosting block parties, picnics and service projects that create community.
  • Proudly expressed our appreciation for our immigrant community by hanging two "Denver Loves Immigrants" banners on the City and County Building and the Webb Municipal Building.
  • Oversaw Denver's Snow Angels Program for the second year, which is intended to encourage neighbors to clear winter sidewalks for older adults and people with limited mobility.
  • All Commissions worked with Denver Arts & Venues to distribute $20,000 in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Mini-Grants to culturally inclusive art projects throughout the community.
  • Launched Denver's Census 2020 outreach effort, which aims to ensure over 75% of the city's residents participate in the every ten year count that begins on April 1, 2020.
  • Launched the Office of Storytelling and "I Am Denver," a community-wide storytelling project, to collect and tell the stories of Denver and give voice to the city's underrepresented peoples.
Denver expresses its support for the city's immigrants

HRCP Staff

Derek Okubo, Executive Director

Jamie Torres, Deputy Executive Director, Director of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Staff Liaison to the Immigrant and Refugee Commission

Rowena Alegría, Chief Storyteller and Director of the new Office of Storytelling

Roz Alston, Special Projects Coordinator

María Corral, Community Integration Coordinator with the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

Kim Desmond, Director of the Office on Women and Families, Staff Liaison to the Women's Commission and to the African American Commission

Linda Eddy, ADA Project Inspector

Perla Gheiler, Director of the Office on Aging, Staff Liaison to the Commission on Aging

Shawn Johnson, Senior Adviser on Community Affairs

Jessica Jorgensen, Data and Research Analyst, Staff Liaison to the Asian American Pacific Islander Commission

Penny Marez, Office Manager

Kaye Kavanaugh, Census Coordinator

Lorrie Kosinski, Director of the Office of Sign Language Services

Swanhilda Lily, Deaf Programs Specialist

Juan Pasillas, ADA Plans Reviewer

Miriam Peña, Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships, Staff Liaison to the Strategic Partnerships Commission

Aisha Rousseau, Director of the Office of Disability Rights, Staff Liaison to the Commission for People with Disabilities

Jason Salas, Director of the Office of Financial Empowerment, Staff Liaison to the Denver Latino Commission

Ken Seeley, Collaboration and Evaluation Specialist with the Office of Strategic Partnerships

Darius Smith, Director of the Anti-Discrimination Office, Staff Liaison to the American Indian Commission and to the African American Commission

Lorelei Sommers, Contract Compliance Coordinator

Thank you for a great year, Denver!

For more detailed information and updates on our work, please visit http://bit.ly/DenverHRCP

Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DenverHRCP/

And/or email penny.marez@denvergov.org to sign up for our newsletter.

Created By
Jessica Jorgensen

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