Highlights from 2016

As we double down on our commitment to opportunity, we’re proud of the successes we have had in 2016. Below are five highlights from this year. In the year ahead, we will be building off each of them as we work to inform the progressive conversation around economic opportunity in Colorado.

1. Minimum wage increase

In November, Colorado passed an increase to the statewide minimum wage, which raised the wage for almost half a million Coloradans. Throughout the campaign, the Bell produced analysis that disarmed the opposition, demonstrating that raising the minimum wage improves the economy. Now, Coloradans working at the minimum wage will see their wages increase gradually to $12 an hour by 2020.

2. Predatory lending reforms

During the 2016 legislative session, the Bell successfully led a coalition to stop the predatory lending bill, SB16-185, that would have raised the cost of credit and consumer purchases, saving hard-working Coloradans at least $9.5 million in additional interest.

3. High school equivalency options

At the end of last year, the Bell promoted – and the State Board of Education approved – more options for high school equivalency, putting more Coloradans on the path to the education and training they need to succeed in the workforce. Additional options for high school equivalency assessments recognize and support the wide variety of learning styles, financial circumstances, and aspirations students seeking a high school equivalency diploma bring with them.

4. Bound to Succeed report

We released a new research report on two-generation approaches to education in Colorado. Our research focused on a specific aspect of the two-generation model — one that intentionally links adult education, job training, workforce development and postsecondary education for low-income parents with early childhood education for their young children. We identified barriers to links and recommended policies, practices, and actions to improve those links.

5. Strategic Plan for Aging

In 2016, the Strategic Action Planning Group on Aging (SAPGA) – a group the Bell helped to create – released its initial recommendations for helping Colorado prepare for the challenges and opportunities of an aging population. Several key recommendations hit right at the heart of our priorities for economic opportunity, including retirement security, consumer protections, workforce development, and caregiver support.