Caring for Denver Foundation Reaches $44 Million Milestone in Grant Awards; $11 Million Additional Pending in August

News Release


June 2, 2021

Denver, CO — Caring for Denver Foundation announced it has reached a critical milestone this month having awarded $44.8 million in grants to organizations transforming how mental health and substance misuse supports and services are delivered across the city.

Caring for Denver is also now accepting grant proposals for its $11 million Alternatives to Jail initiative which includes funding for co-responders and similar programs aimed at reducing the incidence of those struggling with mental health or substance misuse from entering the criminal justice system. Co-responders are the highly effective and recognized program that provides trained mental health experts to accompany police officers on 911 calls involving incidents with a mental health dimension and ensures that those in mental health and substance misuse crisis are diverted from the criminal justice system and toward the right care.

This last year of funding included the launch in June of the Denver STAR (Support Team Assisted Response) program which dispatches a paramedic, instead of police, and a mental health professional in a mobile crisis unit to respond to someone in a mental health emergency, stabilize them, de-escalate the situation and divert them from the criminal justice system by connecting them with the appropriate community resource for ongoing care.

 “We are proud of the work Caring for Denver has been able to accomplish in one short year,” said State Representative Leslie Herod, Board Chair of the Foundation. “Through our alternatives to jail grantmaking, we have led the charge on innovative and transformative programs like STAR. Investments like these ensure that we are providing people the critical services these need to break the cycle of incarceration and poverty, freeing up critical tax dollars for more productive uses.”

The nature of Caring for Denver itself stems from innovation and transformation. Voters in 2018 approved the formation of Caring for Denver as a non-profit foundation funded by city sales tax revenues to support mental health and substance misuse services.  Caring for Denver is among the few major U.S. cities employing a sales-tax funded foundation to address mental health needs.

The city ordinance that created Caring for Denver specified that the foundation focus on four areas: Alternatives to Jail, Care Provision, Community-Centered Solutions, and Youth.  Since its inception in 2018, Caring for Denver has funded more than 171 grants across these four areas ranging from less than $20,000 up to $600,000.

“Caring for Denver was created by Denver for Denver 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,” said Lorez Meinhold, Executive Director of Caring for Denver.

“It’s fitting that we have passed the $44 million grant milestone as National Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close,” said Meinhold.  “Denver’s foreword-thinking approach to providing resources to meet these challenges is, we believe, a national model. We thank all the hard-working individuals and organizations that are doing the work in our communities to support and deliver the support and care that’s needed.”

Applications for grants in the Alternatives to Jail initiative are being accepted through June 10, 2021 at 7 p.m. MST. Caring for Denver was established in 2018 by approval of Denver Initiated Ordinance 301, which passed by a 75%-25% margin of Denver voters.  The ordinance calls for $.25 of every $100 in city sales tax to be allocated toward mental health and substance misuse needs in the City and County of Denver. 

A small portion of Caring for Denver’s funds are directed back to the City of Denver for mental health and substance misuse services; the remainder are delivered to non-profit organizations, public schools and agencies through a rigorous grant review process.

About Caring for Denver

Caring for Denver Foundation was authorized by a vote of Denver voters in November 2018.  Its mission is 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.  To learn more please visit caring4denver.org.