Caring for Denver Foundation Approves $6.7M in Grants to Support Alternative Responses to Criminal Justice Involvement

News Release

Contact: Taylor Roddy (312) 208-6483

July 28, 2020

Denver, CO – Caring for Denver Foundation under leadership from Executive Director Lorez Meinhold and Board Chair State Rep. Leslie Herod recently approved $6.7M in grants to community-based non-profit organizations and departments within the City and County of Denver offices.

Grants will support programs that help appropriately move Denver from a criminal justice response to a public health, trauma, mental health and substance misuse crisis response.

Through these efforts, Caring for Denver, in collaboration with community partners and agencies, will reduce incarceration, recidivism, and ensure those released from the criminal justice system have the resources they need. Racial and ethnic disparities are a defining characteristic of our criminal justice system and the funded proposals seek to address these issues by supporting community-authored and led solutions.

More than 13,000 Denver residents will receive services and other support from the organizations to break cycles of addiction, decompensation, and involvement in the criminal justice system.

Over 70 percent of the funded organizations utilize peers and mentors with real-life experience as part of their intervention which is a key component to successful recovery.

Of the $6.7 million, $5 million will go to the following community-based non-profit organizations:

  • 5280 High School
  • Brain Injury Association of Colorado
  • Colorado Circles for Change (Formerly Victim Offender Reconciliation Program of Denver)
  • La Raza Services, Inc.
  • Life-Line Colorado
  • Make a Chess Move (MACM)
  • Mile-High Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
  • Second Chance Center
  • Sobriety House, Inc.
  • The Center for Trauma & Resilience 
  • The Delores Project
  • The Empowerment Program
  • Tribe Recovery Homes

The remaining $1.7 million will fund the offices within the City and County of Denver and as stipulated by the founding ordinance for the Foundation. Those offices are:

  • City & County of Denver, County Court
  • City & County of Denver, Denver Sheriff
  • City & County of Denver, Department of Public Safety
  • City & County of Denver, District Attorney’s Office

“This work will be transformational for more than 13,000 Denverites. When we don’t adequately fund mental health and substance misuse, we pay for it in the criminal justice system. These funded programs focus on care rather than incarceration,” said Rep. Leslie Herod, Board Chair.

With robust input from over 1,600 community residents, Alternatives to Jail, along with three other priority funding areas; Community-Centered Solutions, Youth, and Care Provision, were identified as the most immediate areas of need. The full strategic funding priorities report can be found here.

About Caring for Denver Foundation
Caring for Denver Foundation was founded and funded with overwhelming voter support to address Denver’s mental health and substance misuse needs by growing community-informed solutions, dismantling stigma, and turning the community’s desire to help into action.

About Lorez Meinhold
Lorez Meinhold serves as the Executive Director of Caring for Denver. She brings over nineteen years of implementation and policy experience as a director of multilateral initiatives involving the public, private and civic sectors, working at the local, state, and national levels. Lorez has worked in many capacities integrating health programs addressing mental health and substance misuse needs, connecting early childhood and health communities, delivery and payment system reforms, and efforts that required statewide stakeholder engagement.

About Rep. Leslie Herod
Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod (D-Denver) was elected in 2016 as the first LGBTQ African American in the Colorado General Assembly. Since then, she has passed 52 bills, addressing criminal justice reform, mental health, addiction, youth homelessness, education, and civil rights protections. Herod championed the Caring for Denver Ballot measure and now serves as Chair of the Caring for Denver Board.