2019 Agency for Human Rights & Community Partnerships Annual Report a year in review

Dear Community Partners,

The year of 2019 was a year of change and accomplishment for the Agency for Human Rights & Community Partnerships (HRCP). We are grateful because we could not have been accomplished without the hard work and dedication of HRCP staff, commissioners, and city department partners.

This report highlights our work. We added new staff, created new initiatives and programs, updated and implemented new policies, and continued our ongoing focus to ensure Denver is a welcoming city for all.

I thank you for taking the time to review this report. Feel free to contact me with any questions, issues and solutions that you wish to share and address. We can be successful only if we work together to tackle the complexities before us.

Here's to another successful year in 2020!


Derek Okubo, Executive Director

About HRCP:


HRCP envisions a unified city, with community leaders and the resources of government coming together to create strong partnerships and capacities throughout Denver. In addition to supporting and empowering diverse communities in all neighborhoods, the agency creates opportunities for innovation to take root in local government and throughout the community to affect local challenges. The model of inclusiveness, HRCP recognizes that diverse perspectives, skills and resources strengthen the foundation for lasting solutions.


HRCP works proactively to build capacities and strengthen connections that result in stronger relationships in the community through collaboration, communication and advocacy.

History of HRCP:

The Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships began under then Mayor Quiqq Newton as the Committee on Human Rights in 1947. Mayor Newton created the Committee due to his concerns of racial conditions and systemic discriminatory policies and practices by public and private entities in Denver. The Committee evolved through the years into today's Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships, a public agency that works with city departments and community partners to strengthen Denver's community fabric and unleash the human potential of our residents.

  • $4 million dollar budget
  • 1 division
  • 8 offices
  • 10 commissions
  • 28 staff members
  • 4 university staff members

2019 Staff Additions

In 2019, HRCP hired the following:

  • Jessica Calderon, Learning & Development Specialist, Office of Equity & Social Innovation
  • Will Flowers, ADA Coordinator, Division of Disability Rights
  • Michelle Garcia, Learning & Development Specialist, Office of Equity & Social Innovation
  • Brandon Gibson, Navigation Supervisor, Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection
  • Atim Otii, Director, Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs
  • Jose Rosales, Operations Assistant, Administration
  • Vanessa Saldivar, Cities for Action Regional Coordinator, Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs
  • Kaylie Showers, Staff Assistant, Administration
  • Alvin Tafoya, Program Director, Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection
  • Wil Alston, Director, Office of Strategic Partnerships

*Note: HRCP housed the city's Race & Social Justice Initiative until 2019 when Mayor Michael B. Hancock moved the project into his office. Now known as the Mayor’s Office of Social Equity and Innovation, it houses all city equity programs in one entity.

Census 2020 is coming!

April 1, 2020 is officially Census Day. The day the country will count every person residing in the U.S.

Denver has been preparing well in advance to develop the right strategy to ensure all residents, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, disability, and/or immigration status, all know what the Census is, how their data is protected, and why it’s so critical for all Denverites to participate.

Denver's efforts around Census participation are being led by HRCP and Census Coordinator, Kaye Kavanagh. For more information and to get involved, contact Kaye at: Kaye.Kavanagh@denvergov.org; 720-913-8429.

Office of Disability Rights transitions to Division of Disability Rights (DDDR)

  • Expanded from Office to Division
  • Hired Title II ADA Coordinator and began work to hire three newly allocated positions for 2020
  • Continued managing $650 million budget for improving Citywide architectural and programmatic accessibility for people living with disabilities - 825 plan reviews in total
  • Developed and deployed Citywide ADA Training for all 13,000+ City employees

Changes to Denver's Anti- Discrimination Office ordinance

In order to strengthen current anti-discrimination laws and to conform to changes in state law, the Denver Anti-Discrimination Office made the following changes to its municipal code ordinance:

  • Replaced outdated terms concerning sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Added terms to prevent discrimination based on ethnicity, citizenship, and immigration status
  • Clarified terms regarding disability status
  • Modified terms concerning exemptions for religious organizations

In addition, DADO updated its ordinance to include source of income as a protected class on discrimination claims.

Office of Storytelling created

Denver's Office of Storytelling houses I Am Denver, a partnership that brings City & County of Denver entities together with sister agencies, nonprofits, foundations, and businesses to foster conversations among residents, and open the hearts, minds, and doors of everyone who calls Denver home.

The Office of Storytelling highlights and celebrates our residents, neighborhoods and history while allowing for high-level discussions around topics affecting Denver.

In its first nine months, the Office of Storytelling gathered some 193 community stories that reached nearly 1 million viewers on social media.

In addition, the Office of Storytelling partnered with 30+ community organizations to host 22 I Am Denver Storytelling labs.

(Left photo: 2019 Storytelling lab)

(Video: I Am Denver story)

Denver Office on Aging - DenverConnect begins

DenverConnect is a mobile resource center designed to connect older adults with information. It's managed by the Denver Office on Aging. DenverConnect brings city services and resources to neighborhoods, assisted living centers, and places where large concentrations of older adults are gathered and targets low-income and racial/ethnic minorities.

As rents and home prices increase, it becomes increasingly difficult for our older residents to age in place, or put more simply, to age where they are. DenverConnect aims to help Denver's older adults do just that by connecting them with vital community resources.

Since its inception, DenverConnect has connected over 2,000 constituents to information, resources, and/or services.

(Right photo: The DenverConnect mobile station parked in front of the City and County Building)

Consumer Financial Protection (under the Office of Financial Empowerment and Protection) launches

  • Drafted a new consumer protection ordinance or UDAAP (Unfair, Deceptive and Abusive Acts and Practices) with expected submission to City Council for a vote in the first quarter of 2020.
  • Commenced Phase II of CFPD's soft launch and responding to inquiries from residents who feel they have been a victim of Wage Theft or Elder Financial Abuse.

Denver Division/Office Highlights

Division of Equity & Social Innovation (DESI)

*Since 1947, HRCP has proactively protected human rights, build capacities, and strengthen connections that result in stronger relationships in the community through collaboration, communication, and advocacy. As a model of inclusiveness, diversity and equity, HRCP was the umbrella agency for our Race & Social Justice Initiative until Mayor Michael B. Hancock created a new stand alone office this year to house our city-wide social equity and racial justice work within a new Mayor’s Office of Social Equity and Innovation.

The mission of Mayor’s Office of Social Equity and Innovation is to lead efforts to eliminate social inequity and race and social injustices by evaluating institutional and structural government systems, policies, and practices.

The Mayor's Office of Equity & Social Innovation includes a newly appointed Equity Officer and two new Learning and Development specialists and has:

  • Provided Race and Social Justice training for all Mayoral appointees and for all City Council members.
  • Created citywide Equity, Diversity and Inclusion teams within all agencies.
  • Incorporated a rigorous academic-rooted approach to implementing and addressing institutional and structural racism by partnering with a behavioral scientist and public management scholar (Dr. Elizabeth Linos) from UC Berkeley to utilize empirical guidance to measure all learning and development content to bolster social equity based outcomes.

(Right photo: Table session during the Government Alliance on Race and Equity's two-day training of city leadership around best practices and strategies to address racial disparities)

Office of Community and Veterans Affairs

  • The Denver Office of Community and Veterans Affairs, in partnership with community organizations, launched Light the World Giving Machines - vending machines designed to allow people to donate to different charities. The giving machines raised $625,000 for these non-profits.
  • For the second year in a row, the Office of Community and Veterans Affairs held a veterans reception on Veterans Day for City and County of Denver Employees who have served or are currently serving in one of the five U.S. branches of services.

(Left photo: Mayor Hancock making the first donation to the Giving Machine on the 16th Street Mall)

Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection (OFEP)

OFEP's Financial Empowerment Centers (FEC) provide free one-on-one financial coaching, free tax prep, and other services resulting in:

  • Total Debt Reduction: $6,212,000*
  • Total Savings: $2,500,0000*
  • New home purchases: 212*
  • Foreclosures avoided: 46*
  • Free tax returns: 5,889
  • Client savings from free tax returns: $3,239,839
  • Micro-business loans: $300,000
  • Job creation: 120

* = inception to 2019

(Right photo: Financial Empowerment Center hosting a table at Denver Housing Authority's 2019 Homeownership & Economic Empowerment Summit)

Denver Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs (DOIRA)

  • Hosted three public forums to educate Denver residents and service providers on the public charge rule change, a federal law change that continues to have local impact on Denver residents.
  • Partnered with a local nonprofit to provide naturalization filing fee assistance for 35 eligible, lawful Denver permanent residents.
  • Created the Denver Immigrant & Refugee Community and Neighborhood Assessment Report.
  • Hired a Cities for Action Regional Coordinator tasked with building statewide and regional partnerships and supporting a national coalition of mayors and county executives advocating for pro-immigrant federal policies and launching innovative and inclusive programming at the local level.

(Left photo: Volunteers providing paperwork assistance to residents at a free Citizenship Workshop hosted by DOIRA)

Denver Office of Sign Language Services (DOSLS)

  • Provided 36 trainings to City employees on Deaf community, culture & language, and Interpreter and real-time Captioning Services provided by DOSLS.
  • Created 40+ American Sign Language (ASL) translations of City brochures, flyers, and website information, making Denver government information accessible to deaf people in their native language.

(Right photo: Attendees of the Beethoven's Nightmare concert band pose for a group photo. Beethoven's Nightmare is the only deaf band in the world)

Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships (DOSP)

  • Working to create the Collaborative Impact Fund of Denver, a privately funded, independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit that will support meeting unmet needs and identifying projects which strengthen the well-being of the community.
  • Continuing to improve the Funding and Contracting effectiveness (FACE 2.0) initiative through convening and surveying nonprofits and city agencies to understand the breadth of contracting challenges facing these organizations.
  • Managed the Energy Efficiency Program with six nonprofit partners to provide energy audtis, upgrades, and education regarding energy efficiency to 3,000 households in need and 24 nonprofit organizations that serve low-income individuals.

(Left photo: DOSP hosts a training to help nonprofits understand the City and County of Denver's grant funding process)

Commission Highlights

Denver African American Commission (DAAC)

  • Hosted 2nd Economic Summit at CrossPurpose focusing on entrepreneurship, home ownership, development, industry, and financial sustainability.
  • Established commission norms around the subjects of communication, meeting structure, and commissioner engagement.

Denver American Indian Commission (DAIC)

  • Partnered with Native Realities in organizing/hosting Indigenous Pop X, a three-day event featuring actors, comic illustrators, artists, music, and a Native pride drag fashion show.
  • Held 4th Annual Run for the Stronghold, a one-hour individual health challenge with more than 150 community runners.

(Right photo: American Indian dancers performing outside of Indigenous Pop X) (Photo credit: Erin McCarley, Westword)

Denver Commission for People with Disabilities (DCPD)

  • Developed a comprehensive guide listing many agencies and resources catering to individuals with disabilities interested in opportunities for adaptive sports.
  • Leveraged awareness video "No to the 'H' Word" into training for all City and County of Denver personnel.

Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission (DAAPIC)

  • Co-recommended and co-signed a letter of support from Mayor Hancock regarding HB1192 which mandates instruction in Colorado public schools to include the history of underrepresented and marginalized communities.
  • Awarded funding to five different arts projects in the Denver metro area including a documentary play on survival and trans identity in a Vietnamese family and a Filipino poetry workshop.

(Left photo: Attendees of a Mahal Poetry Workshop. The workshop is one of DAAPIC's 2019 mini-grant award recipients)

(Video: DCPD's No to the "H" Word campaign)

Denver Immigrant & Refugee Commission (DIRC)

  • Hosted Wage Theft Community Forum with panelists discussing proposed local policy solutions, the Governor’s Construction Task Force, and educating Immigrant and Refugee Communities on the CDLE wage claim process.
  • Volunteered for Colorado is Home Citizenship drives throughout Denver.

Denver Commission on Aging (DCOA)

  • Recommended and signed on to a letter of support from Mayor Hancock in support of SB172 which makes it a crime to unlawfully abandon or confine an at-risk person.
  • Hosted 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Awards at PPA Event Center which included a fashion show featuring older adults.

(Right photo: Fashion show featuring older adults from the Mayor's 2019 Diversity & Inclusion Awards hosted by the Denver Commission on Aging)

Denver Latino Commission (DLC)

  • Hosted for 120 attendees the Inaugural Empowering Voices of Color Conference on August 10th, 2019, featuring four workshops and a 9News Mini Health Fair.
  • Hosted the first Reclaiming our Mental Wellness Day on November 16th, 2019, at La Alma Recreation Center.

Denver LGBTQ Commission

  • Helped pass a City and County of Denver ban on conversion therapy for minors.
  • Assisted Denver in receiving a 100% rating for the 3rd year in a row on the Municipal Equality Index.

(Left photo: The Mayor, HRCP commissioners, and friends at Pridefest Denver 2019)

Denver Strategic Partnerships Commission (DSPC)

  • Supported critical data collection to complete the Nonprofit Economic Impact Study. In addition, developed, administered, and will analyze the Nonprofit Wellbeing survey.
  • Partnered with the City and County of Denver to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of contracting processes through the implementation of FACE 2.0.

Denver Women's Commission

  • Hosted an applicant open house for all community members in an effort to further engage and solidify their commitment.
  • Held a community engagement event for youth with an emphasis on art and women at Girls Athletic Leadership School.

(Right photo: Denver Women’s Commission Event "Your Future, Your Dream, Our Collective History!" where future leaders were led through interactive activities to design their future)