Examples of Ideas That Work

Ideas that Work allows us to tell the stories of Coloradans who come together to tackle problems that can’t be solved by individuals alone. Here are some examples:

El Busesito

El Busesito (The Little Bus) is a mobile early childhood education program that provides much-needed high-quality education to children and parents in low-income, migrant, and isolated communities in the Roaring Fork Valley. El Busesito is a successful example of a two-generation approach, organized through the Valley Settlement Project. By operating high school equivalency and ESL programs for parents while simultaneously using them as volunteers for the early childhood education program, El Busesito sends students to kindergarten who are prepared to learn and whose families are prepared to help them on their path to success.

Photo provided by Valley Settlement Collection.

ReHire Colorado

ReHire is a private-public partnership that helps people with significant barriers to employment get the skills and experience they need to succeed as a part of Colorado’s workforce. This transitional jobs program has helped subsidize the training and employment of more than 1,000 veterans, displaced workers aged 50 years or older, non-custodial parents and Coloradans with criminal pasts. Preliminary findings from a University of Colorado evaluation of the program reveal that ReHire has been extremely effective at transitioning formerly unemployed people to unsubsidized employment. Additionally, three-quarters of participants decrease their reliance on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits or move off public assistance altogether. According to the National Transitional Jobs Network, for every public dollar invested in Reire, four dollars are reinvested into the local economy as a result of the success of the program’s participants.

Colorado Preschool Program

The Colorado Preschool Program (CPP) provides funding for more than 22,000 children who would not have been able to afford it otherwise. These children show risk factors that are associated with later challenges in school — many come from low-income or single parent households. Children in this program see significant gains in school readiness compared to children with similar risk factors not in the program, scoring 10 to 15 percentage points higher on Colorado Student Assessment Program/Traditional Colorado Assessment Porgram tests. In the 28 years the program has been running, these gains have shown long-term impacts on student achievement: CPP students are held back less often than non-CPP students, and are far less likely to need intensive literacy supports. CPP graduates in Denver Public Schools scored at or above the level of the rest of the students on the 11th grade ACT test, showing that investments like the CPP can make a sizable difference in helping to break the cycle of poverty.

B Corps

Benefit corporations, or “B Corps,” is a class of corporations focused on the dual mission of benefiting shareholders and society. B Corps are assessed based on how they treat their workers, their surrounding communities, how they impact underserved populations and the environmental sustainability of the company. B Corps are certified by B Lab, which grades them according to how well they maintain B Corps’ high standards of practice. Colorado recognized benefit corporations as a corporate classification in state law in 2013, and the B Lab Colorado headquarters is now housed at Impact Hub in Boulder. There are 1,929 corporations worldwide and 78 in Colorado, including New Belgium Brewing Company, Gary Community Investments, and the Colorado Impact Fund. The B Corps model serves as one great example of private-sector initiative to improve communities as a function of a company’s bottom line.