Our Priorities
Locally Focused Work

At The Colorado Health Foundation, we believe in the transformative power of local communities. 

Real change flourishes when led and driven by the very heart of the communities that need it the most. That’s why we have identified places across Colorado that reflect some of the biggest disparities around health, income, geographic and other identities — and embody a sense of what’s possible when communities themselves drive better health and opportunities for the people who live there.

We currently work in nine unique communities through this effort, which we call locally focused work (LFW).


We’ve witnessed the staying power of locally generated ideas. These ideas are more likely to reflect a community's unique needs, but most importantly, they are more likely to be embraced by the community itself. Working locally in this way can help unlock power for groups that are often overlooked. Deeper engagement in these communities over an extended period of time also allows for building and sustaining relationships that can better foster and support enduring change.

We developed LFW to find ways of collaboration, leadership and idea generation that are authentic to a community’s needs for the future, especially given the multitude of opportunities and challenges they face. Every community has its own features and characteristics that make it home for many. We also know that Colorado’s communities are experiencing ongoing systemic challenges, including housing costs, mental health strain, health care costs, gun violence, crime and environmental worries, such as wildfires and other natural disasters.

Our 2023 Pulse public opinion poll revealed that more than 80% of Coloradans worry most about the cost of living and housing affordability, two areas of concern that we can delve deeper into with our locally focused work.

LFW involves cultivating relationships and nurturing promising ideas within these communities, amplifying voices that are and have been excluded, and advancing change to ultimately improve the health and well-being of communities. From individual community members to networks and coalitions, institutions and policymakers, we’re engaging with local actors at all levels to help unlock and bring community-driven ideas to life. The core of our approach rests on three pivotal outcomes:

1. Cultivating leaders: We aim to empower community members to engage, lead and take action.

2. Strengthening coalitions and networks: Through local people, organizations and networks working together, we tackle health-related challenges.

3. Shifting institutions: Strong, responsive and inclusive institutions enact policies and systems that promote health.

As communities grow stronger and more equitable in these three ways, they will undoubtedly make progress on their most pressing health issues. This progress is especially critical for issues that disproportionately affect marginalized populations, including people of color and those with lower incomes. Our intent for a healthier Colorado is encapsulated in the program’s theory of change: improved population health and reduced health inequities.

The LFW priority challenges traditional place-based philanthropy by adopting a decentralized, community-driven model. It emphasizes equity, inclusivity and adaptability to local contexts. Our key tactics, including leadership development, community building and learning about local cultural narratives, have been effective in building community engagement and trust. Our program staff and partners are also tackling the growing areas of concern for Colorado communities at the local level.

We’re currently engaged in this effort in nine Colorado communities. Each community has a dedicated program officer who is eager to meet with you, the community members, to better understand your perspectives and the local context. Whether sharing a cup of coffee, joining a meeting or taking a neighborhood walking tour, we’re here to connect.

Community Building Through Shared Aims
Transform Your Community with a KaBOOM! Playground. Are you ready to make a tangible difference in your community with a KaBOOM! playground? Contact Sianna Simmon, our community outreach coordinator at KaBOOM!

Build Leadership Skills
The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) is a leadership training partner with LFW to enhance local leaders’ capacity to improve their community’s health through innovative problem-solving and collaboration. Individuals who participate will:

  • Increase their self-awareness and improve their ability to work effectively with others
  • Increase their ability to create innovative solutions to complex challenges
  • Understand the dynamics of leading people through change within their communities or fields of practice

Read a series of blog posts written by our staff working locally in these communities. Gain deeper insights into the work we’re doing and the impact we’re making:

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