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News Archive

December 19, 2023

Boulder County Announces 2023 Pinnacle Award Winners

Seven programs honored for upholding the guiding values
of the county

Key Points

  • The Boulder County Commissioners gave Pinnacle Awards to staff for programs that best represent Boulder County values.
  • Boulder County’s Guiding Values are Inclusion, Stewardship, Engagement, Innovation, Sustainability, Service, and Resilience.
  • Winning program staff were celebrated with an event at the Historic Downtown Courthouse.

Boulder County, Colo. -- Boulder County celebrated seven programs throughout the organization for preserving the guiding values of local county government (Inclusion, Stewardship, Engagement, Innovation, Sustainability, Service, and Resilience). Teams from each department were honored by the Board of County Commissioners with a celebration in the Historic Downtown Courthouse Hearing Room and a small bonus for their tireless efforts. This year’s winners are as follows:

Projects that help the county progress as an inclusive and culturally
responsive organization

A team from Housing & Human Services and the Health Coverage Enrollment Center won the award for Inclusion for OmniSalud.

OmniSalud was the first nationwide program aiming to provide health coverage for 10,000 undocumented residents in its first year. Boulder ranked 4th in county enrollments, with the highest percentage relative to our Hispanic population.

The team mastered a new online application system and reached out to a community with limited knowledge of health insurance, especially in the Spanish-speaking community. They organized various outreach efforts like in-person resource fairs, print and social media, radio, and recorded town hall meetings. They distributed materials to many locations and improved their website, including a phase 2 for when they reached the enrollment limit. They also gave presentations and provided resources to partners in the community.

When they realized the 10,000 cap would be reached quickly during open enrollment, they were prepared. They contacted people with later appointments, scheduled evening and weekend sessions, and even held group enrollment events for the first time.

The team handled a high volume of messages and calls daily, successfully responding to every inquiry, enrolling people or directing them to Connect for Health customer service.

Boulder County employees embraced the opportunity to support undocumented residents, embodying the value of inclusion. Their outreach and customer service were culturally responsive, influenced by partners in the undocumented community, and available in both English and Spanish. They also strengthened partnerships with cultural broker organizations, treating everyone with respect and compassion.

Programs which recognize and preserve the county's history to help ensure quality of life for future generations

The St. Vrain Creek Adaptive Management Passage program received the Stewardship award this year for work by staff members from Parks and Open Space. This project has been ongoing for a while and is vital for the health of St. Vrain Creek, which is important for both people and nature.

In the past, the creek was changed by railroads and agriculture, making it disconnected from its floodplain and harming its ecosystem. Many small dams along the creek are old and need repairs, but resources are limited.

The program's first two projects, Niwot Ditch Passage and Longmont Supply Passage, were successful thanks to partnerships focused on restoring the creek, improving water security, and preventing future floods. These projects repaired damaged infrastructure, restored the creek's natural flow, and created a passage for native fish. They also replaced old structures with more resilient ones. More work is planned for other sections of the creek, involving different partners.

High school and college students have learned from these projects, and everyone's input was considered as solutions were found. Bioengineered structures that mimic nature were used to withstand floods and provide habitat for wildlife.

This program benefits the people of Boulder County, as well as the wildlife that rely on the creek for water, recreation, and habitat, especially as the climate changes.

Projects that provide opportunities for collaboration with the community to enrich the services we provide

Engagement was demonstrated with the A la Raiz (RAH-EES) /To the Root program, a collaboration involving the Community Substance Abuse Prevention Program, Community Services' Behavioral Health Roadmap, and Boulder County Public Health's Improvement Process.

Staff, along with three youth Research Assistants from the A la Raiz/To the Root project, organized workshops to gather feedback from young people on mental and behavioral health.

These workshops, led by the youth Research Assistants and supported by staff, used a mountain metaphor to ask young people about their experiences and suggestions. They reached 110 youth from various parts of the county, including Nederland, Louisville, Lafayette, Longmont, and Boulder, in partnership with organizations like Natural Highs, City of Boulder Youth Opportunities Advisory Board, Longmont Children Youth & Families, the Lafayette Youth Commission, Teens Inc, and more.

After staff and the youth Research assistants collected the data, organized and categorized it, each organization received a summary of their own data for their planning.

All the recommendations were summarized and presented at an open house event where youth could vote on the most important ones. These recommendations have been integrated into the Behavioral Health Roadmap, BCPH Public Health Improvement Process, and the A la Raiz/To the Root Project.

This project involved youth throughout the process, serving as a model for community engagement and collaboration across the county. It emphasized the principle of "nothing about us, without us," where youth had a say in the decisions. Since youth often cannot attend sessions focused on adults in the Behavioral Health Roadmap or BCPH PHIP process, this approach provided a youth-friendly way for them to participate and share their voices.

New projects that are progressive and visionary, or that improve county functions in ways that serve as models for other government organizations

Project TEN (This Ends Now), which won the award for Innovation, is a powerful program against human trafficking run by the Boulder County District Attorney's Office. In its second year, the program aims to stop human trafficking, which is sadly common in our county.

This project helps victims, investigates cases, and supports successful prosecutions. It's already made a big impact and improved cooperation and information sharing throughout the county.

Project TEN has investigated two serious cases with many victims and got them ready for court. Right now, they're working on five human trafficking cases, investigating 19 more, following up on over 60 cases, and helping over 100 high-risk individuals. They've done 150 interviews and executed 50 search and arrest warrants.

What's innovative about Project TEN is that they train law enforcement and community agencies to do better investigations and help victims. They've screened over 400 young people, with over 100 of them at high risk for human trafficking, now getting support.

Investigator Edna Munoz now works closely with the biggest law enforcement agencies to help runaway youth. They've educated over 500 community members and law enforcement officers and trained hotel workers in Boulder County.

Project TEN has filled gaps in the system, helping victims and bringing traffickers to justice. They'll keep investigating cases, raising awareness, and training others to make our community safer and support survivors.

Programs which focus on ways to support environmental, social, or economic sustainability in our community

The OSCAR-led Rebuilding Better program is a remarkable example of Sustainability for helping residents rebuild their homes after the Marshall Fire. It offers news, resources, and expert help to make rebuilding more affordable and environmentally friendly.

The program has a website managed by EnergySmart, providing incentives, discounts, educational resources, and advice to homeowners. So far, 50 building permits have been issued for all-electric homes in Boulder County, showing the program's success.

A big achievement is that 68% of eligible Boulder County residents have participated, a much higher rate than in similar programs in other places like Sonoma County, California, which only had a 6% participation rate.

People have praised the Rebuilding Better program for providing more resources and support than what's usually available after disasters. Its main focus is on sustainability and promoting energy-efficient and low-carbon practices in home construction.

The program helps homeowners access green building expertise, solar power, and energy-efficient technologies for their homes.

Projects that demonstrate how the county provides the Best in Public Service (including long-term efforts that demonstrate continuous high performance)

The Immunizations Program had a busy 2022, providing the best Service by conducting 18 community clinics and giving 7,595 vaccines to 5,110 clients. These impressive numbers show the ongoing need for vaccines in our community, which the Board fully supports.

The Immunizations Program team deserves recognition for their hard work in providing vaccines to Boulder County residents. They've been dedicated to meeting the public in important places like food banks and homeless shelters.

Their mission is to educate the community about vaccines and preventable diseases, improving immunization rates and health equity for all ages. They recommend vaccines for both kids and adults at clinics, events, and during outbreaks.

Their professionalism, pride, and dedication even led community organizations to request their vaccination clinics over others in the area.

Programs that focus on future-thinking preparation for the county or community to be better prepared for future challenges

The Bilingual Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant helps public health nurse home-visitors (NHVs) in the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program. They support clients with many social risk factors and high mental health needs and help develop Resilience.

This role also provides direct service consultation and home visits with assigned nurses. Many NFP parents face issues like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, cultural barriers, and trauma.

The program focuses on infant/toddler trauma, child development, and parent-child bonding. NFP serves first-time pregnant individuals who meet income requirements and continues until their child turns two.

This aligns with Boulder County Public Health's mission to promote health equity among high-risk, low-resource populations for a healthier life.

The program specializes in trauma, culture, equity, attachment, and early childhood development. It often helps families navigate systems. Over 50% of clients are Hispanic and/or BIPOC, with one-sixth being Spanish speakers.

The Nurse Home Visitors gain skills and knowledge to support mental health. The program builds community partnerships, offering culturally appropriate care.

It promotes health equity by addressing bias, fostering positive relationships, and coordinating care. Families benefit from increased awareness, support, and access to mental health services.

The program introduces, screens, and provides consultation for mental and behavioral health care, serving as a bridge for clients who may be hesitant to reach out for help.

The County Commissioners also selected the Bilingual Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation for the Commissioners’ Choice Award, as it captures all of the Boulder County values and truly exemplifies the absolute best in public service.

“We are all here to serve the people of Boulder County,” said Commissioner Claire Levy. “Helping mothers with limited resources and the additional challenges of language barriers, mental health concerns, and trauma, serves our most vulnerable and offers a ray of hope during what may possibly be the most difficult time ever experienced by these clients. This program can help set moms and their young ones on the path to a better future and serves to create equitable and positive experiences for all infants and young children, including those from historically marginalized and oppressed communities.”

Public Health winning 2023 Pinnacle Service Award

The team from Public Health pose with the Commissioners in the Historic Downtown Courthouse Hearing Room to celebrate their 2023 Pinnacle Award win for SERVICE.

Collage of all three Boulder County Commissioners