Registered Neighborhood Organizations (RNOs) in Denver suffer from distinct challenges when it comes to accurately representing the diversity of the communities they serve, disproportionately impacting low-income residents, renters, and communities of color. RNOs in Denver are volunteer organizations and are often constrained by a lack of resources to perform time- and cost-intensive outreach and engagement to identify cultural gaps, structural barriers, and creative solutions.
According to West Denver Renaissance Collaborative’s (WDRC) research, several West Denver RNOs have identified lack of diversity and representation as a challenge that they would like to overcome. This RNO Equity Toolkit Pilot collaborated with two Registered Neighborhood Organizations—West Colfax Association of Neighbors (WeCAN) and Villa Park Neighborhood Association (VPNA)—to identify population gaps in each RNO by comparing RNO participation data to neighborhood demographics, determine population-specific barriers, and develop data-driven recommendations for the RNOs to consider on their journey to becoming more accessible, inclusive, and equitable.
In partnership with WDRC, Radian collaborated with WeCAN and VPNA on research and data collection that would support their efforts to increase representation in RNO participation and leadership. This pilot project consisted of three phases of data collection: Neighborhood Diagnostic, RNO Assessment, and Barrier Identification.
Based on extensive research and data collection with a wide range of West Colfax and Villa Park community members, we have learned that both RNOs struggle with accurately representing the communities they serve due to several community-identified barriers and challenges.
WeCAN and VPNA have prioritized this issue and have supported this project with their time and energy to learn more about the needs of those who are underrepresented and what they can do organizationally to better reflect the full diversity of their neighborhoods. Radian recognizes the challenges inherent in being a volunteer organization and the lack of resources that impede the ability and capacity to perform inclusive outreach and engagement.
Although some of our recommendations are time- and resource-intensive, like offering interpretation and translation services, and may require funding, many of our recommendations are centered around relationship building and can be implemented through creative community collaborations. We encourage WeCAN and VPNA to leverage networks, relationships, and partnerships with local organizations and institutions and act as a conduit of resources to the community.