In solidarity with our Asian-American and Pacific Islander Community

As a collaborative committed to a racially equitable and resilient Denver region, we stand with the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community as we collectively grieve the horrific acts of violence in Georgia.

While it may be difficult for some to believe the horrors of Tuesday following this summer’s racial awakening, people of color know all too well the history of hate and violence perpetuated on our bodies as a result of systemic racism, sexism, and discrimination. The history of xenophobia towards the AAPI community in the United States did not begin on Tuesday in Georgia. It permeates US history, from the bubonic plague of the early 1900s to the more recent Coronavirus . Recent data by Stop AAPI Hate shows that harassment and violence towards the Asian American community has dramatic increased over the last year, with attacks towards those of East Asian descent being fueled by a former President that uses hateful, racist rhetoric when speaking about the Coronavirus pandemic. 

We urge you to center the voices of the AAPI community in this conversation and support in whatever way you can.

Mile High Connects partner 9to5 Colorado’s National Office in Georgia is working with the AAPI community on the ground and nationally to center the needs of those impacted. You can help by contributing towards the ongoing healing of the Atlanta AAPI Community. Take immediate action to show solidarity with AAPI communities by adding your name to the list of individuals and organizations calling for a community response to AAPI violence. Nationally and locally, support organizations that advocate for economic and social justice with and in low-income AAPI communities such National CAPACD, Asian Pacific Development Center, Vietnamese American Community of Colorado, Boulder Asian Pacific Alliance, and the Asian Chamber of Commerce. Our Asian-owned small businesses need our support now more than ever – consider spending your dollars at locally owned AAPI restaurants and businesses.

We hope for healing, justice, and a more equitable future for all.

In solidarity,

Deyanira Zavala

Executive Director, Mile High Connects

Advocates and Leaders Discuss Transit’s Role in Economic Recovery

Mile High Connects and Denver Streets Partnership hosted Transit is the Future: Denver Transit Justice Forum, a panel discussion with elected officials and area leaders on the importance of public transit as a critical piece in reconstructing a more equitable, resilient, and sustainable economy.

Framing the conversation, Downtown Denver Partnership President and CEO Tami Door stated that  “A successful city is a resilient city, and transit is at the very center of that.”

Debra Johnson, new General Manager and CEO of RTD, shared that “Transit has been largely underfunded across the country for decades. The transit problems we’re experiencing aren’t indigenous to Denver.” 

Attendees also heard from Grace Rink, Executive Director of the Denver Office of Climate Action Sustainability and Resiliency; Shoshana Lew, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, Boulder County Commissioner and Air Quality Control Commissioner Elise Jones, Denver Resident and NAACP state conference member Gina Jones, and Grishma Pradhan, Legislative Counsel, Office of Sen. Michael Bennet.

For more on this and future events, visit Mile High Connects’ event page and Denver Streets Partnership.

Connect to…Your Ballot

As the smoke from our state’s wildfires reaches the Denver metro region & with COVID-19 cases on the rise, understanding what’s on the ballot and how it impacts our ability to create and maintain safe, healthy homes is more critical than ever. That’s why Mile High Connects and Metro Denver Nature Alliance joined together to host an information session on ballot measures affecting equitable, affordable access to nature and housing in Colorado, Adams County, and Denver.

Chris Stiffler from the Colorado Fiscal Institute unpacked the Gallagher Amendment and the TABOR Amendment, which affect local property taxes, public school investments, and state and local governments’ ability to raise funds for public programs.

Conor Hall front the Trust for Public Land discussed two ballot measures in Adams County affecting open space (1A) and infrastructure (1B) investments supported by long-standing tax assessments. One of Colorado’s fastest growing counties, the population of Adams County is expected to surpass that of Denver within 30 years.

Sebastian Andrews with the Denver Streets Partnership shared details of Denver’s Ballot Measure 2A, which would fund the city’s climate action. The measure, and Denver’s approach to climate change mitigation and adaptation, was informed by work in other cities (like Houston, TX) and the Climate Action Task Force.

Thank you to our partners MetroDNA and panelists for sharing their insights with us. While MHC and MetroDNA do not endorse specific measures, we share this dialogue in the spirit of community engagement and to ensure all residents have access to information.

Bike Mobility Across Denver + Mexico City

Denver_portal: Ciclovías: Bike Mobility Across the Americas

Join us for another episode of Denver_portal programming as we explore "Ciclovías"--urban bike lane infrastructure--and other mobility models from across the Americas. Learn how places like Mexico City are leading the way in pedestrian and bike lane expansion projects and how Denver leaders are getting creative to meet our city's mobility needs. The Denver_portal programming is a collaboration between the Biennial of the Americas and Shared_Studios. Moderator: Deyanira “Deya” Zavala (Denver, CO) Executive Director, Mile High Connects As Executive Director, Deyanira Zavala leads the development and implementation of Mile High Connects’ strategic direction. She is responsible for fundraising and relationship management to advance the Mile High Connects collective priorities. Prior to joining Mile High Connects, Deyanira dedicated her career to supporting aspiring Black, Latinx and immigrant entrepreneurs in Colorado and Texas as a pathway to community asset & wealth building. She also brings national experience having worked with NALCAB- National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders, where she facilitated a variety of community economic development projects in support of member organizations, including resource development and capacity building activities. Deyanira is the first in her family to graduate from high school and college, holding a Masters of Public Administration from the University of North Texas and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Arlington. Deyanira is trained Technology of Participation (ToP) facilitator and alumni of the NALCAB Fellowship and Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Elevate Fellowship programs. She currently serves on the RTD Accountability Committee, Reimagine RTD Community Advisory Group, and the Denver COVID-19 Mobility Task Force. Jill Locantore (Denver, CO) Executive Director, Denver Streets Partnership Jill Locantore is Executive Director of the Denver Streets Partnership, a coalition of community groups advocating for people-friendly streets. Previously, Jill was the Executive Director of the pedestrian advocacy organization WalkDenver, which merged with Bicycle Colorado in 2020 to fully staff the Denver Streets Partnership as a division of Bicycle Colorado focused on reclaiming Denver’s streets for people. Jill also worked previously for the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments where she supported regional efforts to coordinate land use and transportation planning. Throughout her planning career, Jill has focused on the intersection of land use and transportation with environmental sustainability, economic development, public health, and social justice issues, and has built a reputation as an important advocate and spokesperson for human-centered transportation and its key role in building healthy communities. Jill has a Masters degree in community planning from the University of Maryland, as well as a Masters degree in cognitive psychology from the University of Toronto. Areli Carreón (Mexico City, Mexico) Areli is a longtime activist and a founder of Bicitekas A.C., an organization that promotes the use of bicycles in Mexico City and lobbies for policy change around cycling and urban mobility. Areli studied Rural Development at the UAM Xochimilco She’s an environmentalist, founding member of Bicitekas A.C. and currently serves as the “Bike Mayor” of #CDMX, an honorary position created by the Dutch innovation lab BYCS in order to promote cycling around the world. Their goal is to create a network of 100 bicycle mayors who shift urban traveling to more than 50% by bike by the year 2030. Ivan de la Lanza (Mexico City, Mexico) Iván is the Active Mobility Manager at WRI México - Ciudades. He’s in charge of supplying technical advice and managing the cities for the development of pedestrian projects, cycling, and micro-mobility, as part of the integrated transportation network, public spaces recovery, and safety. Previously, he was the Manager of Culture, Design and Cycling Infrastructure in CDMX, an area specifically created for the implementation of the Bicycle Mobility Strategy, which was responsible for the implementation of the system of public bikes EcoBici, the building of ciclovias and bike parking, as well as operating the “Sunday Ride” and “Bike Schools”. He has a Degree in Administration at the UVM and has participated as a panelist in several forums and international conferences. See Less

Posted by Biennial of the Americas on Thursday, August 13, 2020

Mile High Connects & local partner Denver Streets Partnership joined Biennial of the Americas and Shared Studios for a special conversation on “Ciclovias” and mobility models from across the Americas. Share what you learned from the session with us!

Responding to COVID-19’s Stressors: Our low-income workers and entrepreneurs need us – now more than ever

By Deyanira Zavala, Executive Director

This week has been a whirlwind of activity as Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) continues to dominate headlines and our meeting agendas.

Community organizers, nonprofits, and others in our network are responding with tremendous heart and courage. They are issuing calls to action in support of protecting our front line workers – those living paycheck to paycheck – from the ripple effects of this public health crisis. Folks who were are already feeling the anxiety of a paycheck stretched beyond the numbers on it due to rising rents, higher monthly transit costs, and stagnant wages. Mom and pop entrepreneurs who turned side hustles into full-fledged, full-time businesses when they couldn’t secure a job and are now worried that the next client that walks through the door for a pick up order may be their last.

Mile High Connects will be compiling resources and updates on our website, so please visit www.milehighconnects.org/covidresources for the latest news. We will also update our Facebook and Twitter regularly to share what we’re hearing and seeing in the communities we are a part of, and the opportunities we have in front of us.

We’re calling on you, our Community, to stick with us as we reflect on the inequities that this crisis has highlighted for us as a region – inequities that we have long known and felt, but are now facing the bright light of day.

Leadership Transitions at Mile High Connects

Dear Partners,
I am announcing today that I am stepping down as Executive Director of Mile High Connects effective April 5th. In my nearly two years with the Mile High Connects team, we have realized our long-term goal of achieving affordable transit for the region, facilitated meaningful conversations around racial equity with the City and County of Denver’s leadership, and transformed the way our collaborative works, stepping into equity conversations fully present to the realities of our current environment. 

We are stronger today that that ever before, with an extraordinary Steering Committee comprised of regional thoughtleaders and Community Builders. Our Steering Committee has unanimously decided to ask Deyanira Zavala to step into the Executive Director role.  We have worked very closely over the last 18 months and I have full confidence that she is the right person to lead Mile High Connects in this next phase.

As for me, I will be heading home to Amherst, Massachusetts to help take care of my elderly parents. I was hoping that I could make this decision later and continue to help Mile High Connects through this crucial time of transition before moving on, but for personal reasons I am needing to prioritize the needs of my family at this time. 

I am proud of what we have accomplished together. It has been a privilege and honor to work with you all and lead this extremely important and powerful collaborative at this crucial time in the Denver Metro Region. 

With Deep Respect and Gratitude,

Jeffrey Su

An open letter to RTD from MHC

Last week, the RTD Board approved the Preferred Alternative for the 2019-2012 Fare Structure, by a vote of 10 to 5 in favor of the recommendation. This includes two new discounts:

  • Low-Income Discount – 40% discount
  • Youth Discount – 70% discount

This is the culmination of five years of collaborative partnership between RTD, Mile High Connects, and many community partners. Tuesday’s board decision is a major milestone towards making Denver a more equitable place to live and work as it ensures that our public transportation system – and the economic opportunities it provides – is both affordable and accessible to all.

We commend RTD’s board and staff for all of their hard work and commitment to working with the community and we commend all of the individuals, elected officials and community members for their unwavering support. The decision to form The Pass Program Working Group, a community based, highly diverse working group, alongside strong executive-level staff support demonstrates RTD’s dedication to successful community stakeholder relations. This was a consensus approach to decision-making that involved considerable compromise and t the outcome is commendable. For those with the lowest levels of mobility and income, affordable transit can have significant and positive implications for social and economic inclusion.

MHC is deeply grateful to our network of partners and also recognize that our work is not done. We are fully prepared to deploy resources to assist RTD with implementation and continue to support future efforts to furthering transit equity. In the near term, we commit to working with RTD to ensure the program achieves the desired outcomes and ensuring all in our region have access to opportunities. But today, we are taking a moment to celebrate. The new fare structure will ensure youth and low-income people have a chance to get to class on time, to the doctors appointment, to that job interview, to that higher-paying job, or to the grocery store.

How many Nonprofit & Philanthropic Organizations and Regional Leaders does it take to convince RTD?

DENVER MAYOR CALLS ON RTD TO IMPLEMENT LOW-INCOME & YOUTH DISCOUNTS

MHC’s leadership along with a number of partners and RTD, developed a low-income and youth discount pass program. This program will create a 40% discount for transit for those living at or below 185% of the federal poverty level. The proposal is currently under review by RTD and MHC continues to actively seek support from the public to ensure RTD implements new discounts for youth and low-income riders. Mayor Michael Hancock’s 2018 State of the City Address included urging RTD to adopt the complete Pass Program reccomendation.

“And to our friends at RTD, we urge you to adopt the proposal before you, which would dramatically reduce fares for students and low-income residents and make transit free for all youth under the age of 12.” – Mayor Michael B. Hancock

RTD Needs to Hear from YOU!
RTD is currently hosting informational meetings to provide updates about the completed Pass Program Study and current fare review. At these meetings, RTD staff will discuss fares, the Pass Program Study and the working groups fare recommendations, the agency and its budget, and more. RTD staff will be available to answer questions from the public so now is your chance to let your voice be heard. MORE INFO

Upcoming Neighborhood Meetings:
Wed., July 18, 2018, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Englewood- Englewood Civic Center
1000 Englewood Pkwy, Community Room, 2nd floor

Thur., July 19, 2018, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Lakewood- Clements Community Center
1580 Yarrow Street

Sat., July 21, 2018, Noon – 2:00 p.m.
Montbello- Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver
4397 Crown Boulevard

Mon., July 23, 2018, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Aurora- Aurora Municipal Center
15151 E. Alameda Parkway City Café, 2nd Floor

Tue., July 24, 2018, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
South Denver- Thomas Jefferson High School
3950 S. Holly Street

Wed., July 25, 2018, Noon – 2:00 p.m.
Downtown Denver- RTD Administrative Offices
1660 Blake Street, Rooms T & D

Thur., July 26, 2018, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Thornton- Margaret W. Carpenter Recreation Center
11151 Colorado Blvd, Rooms B & C

Affordable Fares Update: MHC reinforces RTD’s effort to realize affordable fares

After a year long effort by RTD’s Pass Program Working Group the future of equitable fares is now sitting in the hands of RTD staff and board. Mile High Connects (MHC), a member of the Pass Program Working Group, is on hand and ready to help. MHC’s experience dates back to 2014 when the first Affordable Fares Task Force of over 100 public, nonprofit, philanthropic and private sector partners was convened by MHC to advocate for affordability in the fare structure. MHC recognizes the challenge facing RTD staff both in the planning and implementation phases of an equitable fare structure, but also wants RTD to understand that they aren’t in this alone.

MHC and its network of partners are fully prepared to deploy their diverse resources to assist RTD staff with developing an implementation strategy. MHC recognizes that implementation will require some work but we urge RTD to take a problem solving approach and reach out to their community of experts ready to help.  The Denver metro region cannot afford to let the “design complexity” hinder access to affordable fares . Making Denver a more equitable place to live and work starts with ensuring that our public transportation system – and the economic opportunities it provides – is both affordable and accessible to all.

RTD’s staff will make their first public report to the board of directors regarding the Pass Program Working Group’s recommendation to modify the existing discount pass program on Tues. March 27th at 5:30 pm. RTD first committed to creating an equitable pass program and convened a 25-member working group and hired a consulting firm to assist the group in evaluating the existing program over a year ago. The group completed its yearlong effort in February 2018, recommended 40 percent discount for low-income riders and a youth pass where riders under 12 are free and riders aged 13-19 receive a 70 percent discount.

The complete recommendation made by the working group and details of the proposed changes can be viewed on RTD’s Pass Program Working Group webpage. MHC will continue to advocate for a 50 percent discount for low-income riders recognizing that implementation of 40 percent discount will represent significant progress. 

To Date organizations such as The Denver Foundation9to5United for a New Economy, Colorado Cross Disability CoalitionDenver Women’s CollaborativeMi Casa Resource CenterCultivandoDenverWorksBayaud EnterprisesColorado Fiscal Institute, West Denver Business Improvement District, Urban Peakthe Denver Post Editorial BoardThe New York Times and others have voiced their support for equitable fares. Now is the time for the Denver Metro Region to move forward with a new pass program.

For those with the lowest levels of mobility and income, affordable transit can have significant and positive implications for social and economic inclusion. It’s time RTD’s commitment to building equity is put into action … Stand with MHC in support #FairFaresRTD to ensure that youth and low-income people have a chance to get to class on time, to that job interview, to that higher-paying job, to the grocery store or to that first-time home-buyer class. Attend the next RTD Board Meeting and make a public comment, call and send your elected RTD Board Director an email, and sign the petition created by Together Colorado.

View a list of RTD Board Members by county

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