We are excited to announce promising new opportunities for our pioneer tax support and awareness programs, Tax Help Colorado and Get Ahead Colorado. After decades of connecting thousands of families to valuable tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, we will be transitioning our Tax Help Colorado and Get Ahead Colorado programs to two of the state’s most established and respected public and nonprofit organizations. Mile High United Way will manage Tax Help Colorado, while the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) will take on key aspects of the Get Ahead Colorado program to provide continued outreach, awareness, data and evaluation activities related to tax credits for Colorado families.
As two of the earliest programs built by our founders Sam and Nancy Gary, Tax Help Colorado and Get Ahead Colorado were created to deliver meaningful economic outcomes to families by creating awareness about tax credits and providing free tax preparation services. We’ve been honored to incubate these programs under our own roof and have always believed that these solutions could deliver even more powerful impact as we grew them beyond our walls.
“Tax Help Colorado and Get Ahead Colorado have helped thousands of low income families access tens of millions of dollars of benefits through free tax filing and access to tax credits,” said Mike Johnston, CEO of Gary Community Investments. “We are so proud of the work our teams have done to make these programs successful. Over the years we have been proud to help incubate these programs and others such as the Urban Land Conservancy and Elevation Land Trust, Denver Preschool Program and Mile High Youth Corps. While we are sometimes the right partner to help incubate these programs, our goal is always to treat our programs like all our assets and transition them to community led stewardship. Our new partnerships represent the completion of our original goal to have community led institutions—with a deep history of providing high quality public service—partner with us to take them on and grow their impact.”
Tax Help Colorado, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, will be adopted by Mile High United Way, a leading nonprofit organization working to address the needs of communities in their seven-county Metro Denver footprint. Thanks to dozens of partners and hundreds of students and volunteers, Tax Help Colorado serves close to 8,000 Coloradans annually and has helped families claim over $174 million in refunds, while saving approximately $19 million in tax preparation fees over the past 14 years. By providing free tax assistance, the program helps families access critical refunds that act as an important safety-net. Mile High United Way is the ideal partner to carry this work forward given their networks within the community, and their strong commitment to creating long-lasting change through innovative solutions and partnerships.
“Mile High United Way has worked in collaboration with Gary Community Investments for many years to ensure all families in our community have access to free tax assistance and are taking advantage of tax credits that are critically important to many families we serve,” said Christine Benero, President and CEO of Mile High United Way. “We are proud to transition Tax Help Colorado to Mile High United Way full-time to ensure we can implement these programs, as well as connect families year-round to resources like our Mile High United Way 211 Help Center. Gary Community Investments continues to be an incredible innovator and we look forward to working with them for years to come to serve our community in the most efficient way possible.”
Thanks to the support of its more than 400 partners, Get Ahead Colorado, a public information campaign aimed at creating awareness about the Earned Income Tax Credit, has helped hundreds of thousands of working families claim cash-back tax credits each year. Components of the work of Get Ahead Colorado will be incorporated into the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) program’s efforts at CDPHE to impact economic mobility for Colorado families. Colorado MCH is committed to improving the health of Colorado families through increasing access to income supports and economic mobility, including tax credits. Community-based partnerships have been crucial to the campaign’s impact, and the MCH program will leverage existing CDPHE partnerships in concert with the Get Ahead Colorado data tool, partner database, and communications materials to continue Get Ahead’s mission of ensuring more families take advantage of tax credits.
“The Colorado Maternal and Child Health program looks forward to continuing many of the efforts of Get Ahead Colorado’s longstanding tax credit campaign to reduce child poverty and improve health outcomes for Colorado families,” said Mandy Bakulski, MCH Deputy Director of State Implementation.
As we seek to increase opportunity for families in new and exciting ways, we look forward to growing, building and changing what’s possible in Colorado. We will always look at the creation, incubation and successful transition of Tax Help Colorado and Get Ahead Colorado as models built to achieve all that and more.