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Community Engagement and Planning

Community Engagement and Planning

The Boulder County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) has partnered with the Community Foundation of Boulder County and local community partners on community engagement to ensure ARPA funding investments achieve the highest level of positive and equitable impact for the community.

The first phase of the community engagement process entailed six weeks of collecting feedback from residents, businesses, workers, and students in the county. The engagement process revealed that the greatest challenges facing community members are:

1) Negative Economic Impacts
2) Housing Affordability
3) Cost of Living
4) Mental Health
5) Childcare

These results were consistent across gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, employment status, and disability status.

When asked “What’s one thing Boulder County Can do to improve the lives of you, your loved ones, or your business?” an overwhelming number of respondents suggested increased and improved affordable housing options. The other top suggestions include economic support to offset the impacts of the pandemic, improved mental health services, including initiatives to combat social isolation from the digital divide, increasing affordable childcare options, and greater support for the arts and artists.

Feedback also revealed widespread skepticism and doubts from the community that their opinions will be heard. We also heard that while the County has made resources available to those who have struggled throughout the pandemic, many individuals and businesses are unaware of the programs they can access or do not know how to navigate the current systems.

Read the English version of the report, find the Spanish version of the report on this link, or watch the ARPA Steering Committee’s November 10th presentation to BOCC for more insights from the engagement process, lessons learned, and recommendations for Phase 2.

Phase 1

The process for collecting feedback in Phase 1 entailed six weeks of in-person and online outreach (September 1st – October 15th), in partnership with community leaders, seeking ideas for building a durable and equitable recovery. County staff and the community partners organized and/or attended over 41 events throughout the county to listen to people’s concerns. The BOCC hosted an ARPA-focused Town Hall that took place on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, and gathered a community survey – Boulder County Wants to Hear from You! – from Boulder County residents, businesses, workers, and students. Watch the Town Hall video and learn more about the ways to use the funding, the community engagement process, and Q&A from Boulder County residents! Surveys were collected through October 15, 2021, online in Nepali, Spanish, and English, in person at many local events throughout Boulder County, in community newsletters, and more. In addition to the survey and other opportunities for community engagement, existing data and prior feedback from the community were collected and synthesized.

1539 surveys completed

Phase 2: ARPA Working Groups Planning Process

The Boulder County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and ARPA Steering Committee completed the process to appoint three ARPA working groups in December 2021, moving into the next phase of Community Engagement and Planning. The ARPA Steering Committee in November invited applications to join the inaugural working groups from community members that understand the diverse interests and needs of Boulder County and can speak first-hand to the needs of those most impacted by COVID-19. Members have been appointed in the three working group focus areas of: Economic Challenges, Housing Affordability, and Mental Health and Social Resilience.

The first meeting of the ARPA working groups was a full-day virtual meeting on February 28th, 2022. The session consisted of educational and informative workshops to brief all participants on the impacts of COVID-19 in the county, the needs and ideas of community members, Treasury guidelines for ARPA and the ARPA framework to promote equitable outcomes, and more. The recordings of these meetings are posted on the ARPA Working Group’s Meetings YouTube channel.

ARPA Working Groups Schedule

Kick-off meeting: February 28

Working Group Sessions: March and April

Presentation to BOCC: May

Each of the working groups included a community partner and County staff as co-leads and a County Commissioner as a sponsor to support the process. Please follow the link for detailed information on the structure, roles, and responsibilities of each one of the working groups and its members.

The groups proposed recommendations to the BOCC that support ARPA investments in each of the three focus areas for a total of approximately $45 million in funding.

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