The city has provided more than $3.3 million in American Rescue Act Funds (ARPA) funds to support three direct cash assistance programs.

The City of Boulder aims to foster a sustainable, equitable and resilient community by supporting financial security, economic opportunity and social mobility for all people regardless of their race, ethnicity, age, gender, ability or economic status.

These goals are particularly relevant in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the city is using federal COVID-19 relief funds to increase community members’ financial stability. One of the most impactful ways to do this is to give cash directly to those who need it most. As evidenced by networks like Mayors for a Guaranteed Income and the Stanford Basic Income Lab, direct cash assistance is a growing trend nationally and has already proven to be transformative.

That’s why the city has provided more than $3.3 million in American Rescue Act Funds (ARPA) funds to support three direct cash assistance programs.

"Our economy isn’t working for low-income people, who are working very hard to care for themselves and their families,” said Elizabeth Crowe, deputy director of the city’s Housing & Human Services Department. “We need more tools to be able to address this problem and are excited about the power of direct cash assistance to impact our community members’ lives. By collaborating with low-income community members and the organizations that serve these individuals, we ensured that our funding filled gaps inclusively and we were able to create dignified processes for those in need to access life changing financial support.”

Left Behind Workers Fund

Not everyone affected by the COVID-19 pandemic was able to access federal aid. The Left Behind Workers Fund is a collaboration between community-based organizations, philanthropists and the public sector that was incubated by Impact Charitable. The fund helps workers without documentation access cash grants and rental assistance as quickly as possible in times of need.

The city's investment of $200,000 to support the Left Behind Workers Fund provided direct cash payments of $1,000 to 66 low-income workers in Boulder for whom unemployment benefits or stimulus payments were not available. The Boulder-based organization El Centro AMISTAD assisted applicants applying for assistance to ensure a grassroots, community-based approach to the program.

Read the Left Behind Workers Fund project report PDF on the Impact Charitable website.

Elevate Boulder

Elevate Boulder is the City of Boulder’s guaranteed income pilot project that will provide 200 low-income Boulder households with $500 per month for two years. This assistance is unconditional and unrestricted; that means it can be used how participants choose, and they won’t have to do anything in return. The city is allocating $3 million from its American Rescue Plan Act funds for the project.

From the beginning, Elevate Boulder has been a collaborative effort between city staff from several departments, community members who served on a task force that helped design the project, and nonprofit partner organizations that serve low-income community members.

“Elevate Boulder will impact our community in many positive ways,” said Perla Delgado, Executive Director of the I Have A Dream Foundation of Boulder County, whose staff assisted community members in applying to the project. “It provides community members with an additional financial resource to supplement and close the inequalities many faced pre and post COVID.”

El Centro AMISTAD staff also helped community members apply for and enroll in Elevate Boulder. AMISTAD’s Ana Karina Cassas Ibarra said, “Elevate Boulder offers our families much more than mere financial aid. It can signify the distinction between meeting rent costs or not, purchasing sufficient groceries to last the entire month, and obtaining childcare services. Its impact is not just of a monthly payment of $500; rather, it has the potential to establish a stable home environment, improve mental well-being, and foster peace of mind.”

Applications for Elevate Boulder closed in November and participants received their first direct cash payment in January. Learn more about Elevate Boulder on the city’s website.

Thriving Providers Project

In the wake of COVID-19, many Boulder families have struggled to secure affordable child care services, a problem that disproportionately affects low-income families. Adding to the city’s existing child care supports, the Thriving Provider Project provides will help support Boulder’s Family, Friend and Neighbor (FFN) caregivers, who provide child care services in their homes. The city’s investment of $238,000 will provide 20 FFN providers living in the City of Boulder with $500 per month for 18 months. Beginning in January 2024 the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition, a Latina-led organization that serves and advocates for child care and parent resources and policies, started recruiting and screening for Thriving Provider Project participants in Boulder.

“When we can extend direct cash assistance support to the hard-working FFN providers in Boulder, we are ensuring that not only will the individual thrive, but the families and children in their care will also thrive,” said Lorena Garcia, CEO of the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition.

Learn more on the Thriving Providers Project website.