Founded in 2002, 211 Colorado has helped Coloradans connect to the resources that they need to keep their housing, jobs, health and more for 20 years.
“Every day Hilltop Community Resources receives dozens of contacts from Western Slope Coloradans needing help making rent, caring for a loved one, connecting to health care resources and more,” shared Sue Conry, director of the Hilltop Family Resource Center at Hilltop Community Resources in Grand Junction and chair of the 211 Colorado Collaborative governing board. “If it weren’t for 211 Colorado and the connection to human services that it provides there would be more workers that would lose their jobs, more older adults that would remain lonely and isolated and more children living with families that have begun experiencing homelessness.”
211 Colorado is a comprehensive information and referral service that connects users to an exhaustive listing of more than 8,000 services throughout Colorado. It streamlines access to nonprofit and governmental assistance by providing one central location where Coloradans can get connected to opportunities for keeping their lives on track. Trained 211 Colorado resource navigators assist individuals, families and service providers who are seeking community services in times of need such as rent and utility support, help finding food resources, adult and child day care options, legal and tax assistance and more. The service is available in English, Spanish and other languages.
Marsha’s experience represents a common 211 user. While she did well living alone since her husband passed away, Marsha eventually became overwhelmed trying to take care of everything that her lifelong partner used to do. Frustrated and discouraged, she called 211. Her friendly resource navigator guided Marsha in problem solving for solutions, gave her a list of resources with contact information, made a direct connection for the most critical needs and assisted Marsha in getting essential support for living independently as an older adult. With a resource database that is updated daily, anyone can make use of 211 Colorado via phone (dial 211), text (send zip code to 898-211) or at the www.211Colorado.org website.
In 2002, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission approved a plan for integrating a system of then independent information and referral services and provided it with the 211 dial code. 211 Colorado was born. Today, 20 years later, 211 Colorado has assisted over 3 million Colorado households and provides border-to-border coverage, serving all of Colorado’s 64 counties. 211 Colorado offering organizations include Hilltop Community Resources, Mile High United Way, Pikes Peak United Way, Senior Resource Development Agency in Pueblo, United Way of Larimer County, United Way of Southwest Colorado and United Way of Weld County.
“211 Colorado is a critical resource for Colorado families, be they facing an everyday disaster like job loss or accident or illness or if they are caught up in a natural disaster like a flood, fire or global pandemic,” noted Lyle SmithGraybeal, vice president of Community Development with United Way of Weld County and the 211 Colorado Collaborative vice-chair. “211 Colorado works with emergency operation centers statewide so that in times of disaster our neighbors can get to a safer place for protecting life and property. 211 Colorado is an essential complement to 911 call centers and emergency operations throughout Colorado.”
With an average 10,000 contacts received statewide each month, 211 Colorado volume increased significantly during 2020 and 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; some months exceeded 20,000 contacts. With each call, 211 Colorado resource navigators helped callers to better understand what they were facing, the resources that were available, and what would be the next best steps to take. The most typical presenting needs of callers in any season include food and housing support, rent payment and utility assistance and emergency shelter.