Elevate Boulder

The Elevate Boulder application process has not yet begun. Please check this webpage in mid-October 2023 for updates on the application process and other important information.

Elevate Boulder is the City of Boulder’s guaranteed income pilot project that will provide 200 low-income Boulder households with $500 per month in direct cash assistance for two years, no strings attached. Through this project, the city and our partners hope to help community members become more financially self-sufficient, foster equity, and build trust with community members in need.

Project Overview

An estimated one in four Boulder households does not have enough income to meet basic needs. This is true even for people who work and receive food, healthcare and housing benefits. COVID-19 and rising costs of living. disproportionately affects low-income community members.

To help address this problem, Boulder City Council approved $3 Million to design and implement a guaranteed income pilot as part of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

Boulder is a member of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, which provides access to resources, best practices and research results from existing guaranteed income pilot projects. Assisting the city with Elevate Boulder project tasks are consultants Impact Charitable, OMNI Institute and AidKit, and local nonprofit organizations serving low-income community members.

What is guaranteed income?

The Mayors for a Guaranteed Income network defines guaranteed income as “a monthly, cash payment given directly to individuals. It is unconditional, with no strings attached and no work requirements. A guaranteed income is meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net and can be a tool for racial and gender equity.”

Who will be eligible to apply?

Through Elevate Boulder, 200 participants will be selected to receive $500 per month in unrestricted assistance, for two years. The city anticipates opening the project application process in Fall 2023. Please do not contact city staff at this time, to inquire about the application process or timeline. Please check this webpage mid-October 2023 for updated information.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Reside in the City of Boulder;

  • Be at least 18 years old;

We anticipate receiving a significant number of applications. A randomized lottery process, operated by the project evaluation consultant, will be used to identify participants. The city and local organizations will use media, social media, email and text communication and other outreach methods to alert community members when the application process is open.

What might we accomplish through Elevate Boulder?

Through this project the city hopes to improve the financial stability of participants' households; enable additional outcomes such as improved food security and mental health; and generally, improve quality of life for low-income community members. Immediate outcomes for participants may include:

  • Increased ability to meet basic needs (housing, childcare, food, transportation, healthcare)

  • Decreased debt (paying down/eliminating) or reduction in taking on additional debt

  • Decreased stress, worry, anxiety, etc. over immediate expenses

By the end of the two-year pilot project, we hope that participants will also experience improved financial stability; increased savings; reduced food insecurity; improved mental well-being and improved feelings of self-determination.

What evidence is there that this approach can work?

Dozens of U.S. cities have already implemented direct cash assistance pilots and have experienced a wide range of benefits to community members receiving funds.

The Center for Guaranteed Income Research is working with at least 10 pilot cities to assess benefits such as enhanced maternal and child development, improved racial and gender equity, reduced income gaps, enriched family relationships and more effective youth goal setting. The Center, in partnership with the Stanford Basic Income Lab and Mayors for a Guaranteed Income also publish data from U.S. pilot projects on a public online dashboard.

How can you support Elevate Boulder?

Community members, businesses and organizations can donate to the Elevate Boulder Fund, in partnership with the Community Foundation Boulder County. Funds raised will help ensure that:

  • Applicants receive culturally-centered assistance from diverse, professional staff

  • The evaluation process is inclusive, robust and can help ensure project sustainability

  • Project participants can receive a higher direct cash assistance amount, or other resources to help them achieve financial stability

Contributions to the Elevate Boulder Fund will also help city staff determine the potential for ongoing, collective community support to extend the project after the pilot phase is complete.

Project Timeline

  • Establish a Community Task Force to provide input to city staff and the project consultant on key project design elements (Dec 2022 – Jan 2023)

  • Present pilot project design details to city council (Mar 2023)

  • Identify potential investment partners, research partners, legal partners and other professional experts (Feb – April 2023)

  • Finalize application and, technology platform, evaluation metrics and methods (Summer 2023)

  • Secure partnerships with local organizations to assist with outreach and application process

  • Identify investment partners to ensure successful implementation and increase the project impact (Spring – Fall 2023)

  • Accept applications; select participants (Fall - Winter 2023)

  • Begin payment distribution (January 2024)

Guaranteed Income Pilot Project Community Task Force

Members of the guaranteed income task force pose with city staff on a flight of stairs.

Nine community members served on a Community Task Force to provide input and guidance on key pilot project design elements. All members have experience living with low-income in Boulder and/or work with low-income community members and identify with a population that is underrepresented or underserved or experiencing systemic disparities. Task Force members are:

  • Silas Atkins

  • Shelby Bates

  • Nicole Borrelli

  • Magali Botello

  • Kellie Cuevas

  • Sheila Davis

  • Indira Kumari

  • Ruby Lopez

  • Rinchen Indya Love

Task Force members met through April 2023 to advise on issues such as project outcomes; eligibility criteria; the amount, frequency and duration of cash assistance. Some are also advising on community outreach, testing the draft application, and providing input on evaluation processes.