Aurora, CO. --The Resident Leadership Council (RLC) spent 2022 planning and facilitating a series of Learning Sessions and Community Academies, addressing the issues that came up in the Winter 2021 Connection Campaign. These meetings have explored issues of gun violence, youth mental health, school closings, and access to healthcare, and providing opportunities for community members to discuss their concerns with representatives from various institutions and community organizations.
After researching these topics and the ways that representatives are involved in preventing gun violence and promoting youth mental health, the RLC took action to ensure that the voices of the immigrant and/or non-English speakers would be heard in the planning to address these issues.
On March 25, 2023, the RLC hosted a Community Action Meeting that provided live simultaneous interpretation in four languages for over 235 community members. At this meeting, the RLC addressed a panel of representatives to share their concerns, propose solutions, and extend an invitation for collaboration. These representatives included Aurora City Mayor Mike Coffman; City Council Members Crystal Murillo (Ward I) and Ruben Medina (Ward III); Aurora’s Youth Violence Prevention Program Manager, Joseph DeHerrera; Interim Police Chief Art Acevedo; Aurora Public School’s Executive Director, District Policy & Strategy, Christie Imholt; and Rebecca McClellan from the Colorado State Board of Education.
The RLC demanded that representatives include Aurora’s diverse community in their decision-making processes and highlighted that community engagement efforts should not exclude Aurora’s non-English speaking communities. Entities such as the police department must work to build trust with residents of Aurora by showing transparent evaluation results. The RLC also called for the implementation of a comprehensive plan to reduce youth violence in Aurora Public Schools.
The RLC received commitments from several representatives to work together to come up with better community-driven decision-making processes to identify priorities and allocation of resources. These processes must include members of Aurora’s non-English speaking communities. Both school-based representatives (Imholt and McClellan) committed to attending a presentation on CU Boulder’s Safe Communities Safe Schools program and collaborating with the RLC to work towards a comprehensive evidence-based plan for Aurora Public Schools.
Other notable meeting outcomes and commitments:
- Christie Imholt, Aurora Public Schools: along with the above, a commitment was made to update the new superintendent on this RLC Community Action Meeting and further agreed to set up a meeting in their first three months of hire to explore gaps and solutions with the RLC on how to support non-English speaking families on mental health issues. Additionally, to connect about the issue of supporting restorative justice programs in Hinkley High School and in other areas of APS.
- Interim Police Chief Acevedo: Commitment to work with RLC to share evaluations and lessons in building trust and transparency and explore adjustments with community input. And to address the need for greater transparency and rebuilding of trust with community, and to build better accountability with city leaders and police force.
- Joseph De Herrera: Youth Violence Prevention Program: Willing to collaborate with community on priorities and such as allocation of resources for the program. Also, to commit to developing a clear timeline for implementation of priorities from community.
- Ward I Councilmember Crystal Murillo: Committed to working with the RLC to come up with a better community-driven decision-making process on allocation of resources, including looking for more resources for interpretation and community engagement. (supported by Councilmember Medina). Committed to participation and in co-governing with the RLC, especially in understanding the budget. (supported by Councilmember Medina). And to prioritize prevention programs and raise issue to re-look at priorities in the next budget meeting.