Private Public Partnerships: Pathways to Economic Mobility in Colorado

September 1, 2023

Private Public Partnerships: Pathways to Economic Mobility in Colorado

PERSPECTIVES | With Julie Stone

More Colorado families deserve the opportunity to benefit from the resiliency of Colorado’s economy. We must create more pathways for all families to achieve a liveable wage,

Sam Gary, the founder of Gary Community Ventures, used to say that the measure of any company is the health and vitality of the community surrounding it. 

At Gary, we work for Denver metro families to be able to raise thriving children. That work starts in early childhood, continues through K-12, and goes on to depend a lot on people’s ability to access good jobs and build wealth for their families. While Colorado had strong economic recovery coming out of the pandemic, a critical question remains: How can we help more families benefit from it?

This year at Colorado Succeeds’ Future of Work event, I had the chance to sit down with three incredible leaders working to answer this question:  Michelle Marks, Chancellor at University of Colorado Denver; Karla Nugent, Founder and CRO at Weifield Group Contracting; and Helen Young Hayes, Founder & CEO at ActivateWork. 

I invite you to listen to our conversation. But, before you do, here are some key details that will help to frame what the conversation: 

  • 70% of Denver’s young people are not pursuing any form of learning after high school, which very likely means they (and their families) are not on a path to economic stability.
  • Our cost of living in the Denver metro is outpacing growth in median wages by 3-4X.
  • 1 in 4 Colorado households are not breaking even today.  The majority of these households have children and they’re over represented by single moms and people of color. 
  • A single adult needs to make at least $20 an hour and have benefits in order to break even on their basic monthly expenses like rent, food, utilities, transportation, taxes, A mom with two kids, will need more than $30 per hour.
  • 80% of households that aren’t breaking even have one full-time worker. 
  • 25% of Colordans with a 4 year degree cannot afford their basic cost of living. 

These staggering statistics bring me back to a critical question – How can more Colorado families benefit from Colorado’s economic recovery and how do we create more and new pathways to liveable wages?

– Julie Stone


Julie Stone

Julie Stone is the Director of Family Economic Mobility at Gary, focused on exploring and activating self-sufficiency and wealth-building strategies for Colorado families. With a career that’s included leadership roles in many sectors, Julie is committed to solutions that combine the best of government, non-profit, philanthropy and business to create shared ownership and opportunity — for everyone.

Learn more about Julie >

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