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 that 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 partnered 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.
Based on the findings and recommendations in the pilot project, the RNO Equity Toolkit 2.0 is partnering with 9 neighborhood RNOs in West Denver to fund, implement, test, and iterate tailored recommendations to increase diverse representation, participation, and decision-making in RNOs. Through RNO interviews, listening sessions, and surveys with the West Denver neighborhoods, Radian has found that each neighborhood requires a tailored approach to build diversity, equity, and representation within their associated RNOs.
The barriers to equitable RNOs that were documented during the pilot program include the need for childcare, interpretation and translation services at meetings and events, more flexible meeting times and methods, relationship building, inclusive marketing strategies, and better defining the RNO’s mission, vision, values, and role. Coupled with the overall engagement fatigue and lack of representative leadership in many RNOs, Radian is supporting these RNOS in the co-development of adaptive toolkits that support each RNO where they are with tailored recommendations, implementation plans, project management, funding opportunities, and monitoring and evaluation. Radian is acting as a backbone organization and facilitator working with the RNO’s both one-on-one and collectively to leverage resources, share lessons learned, and brainstorm creative solutions.